Guwahati, Oct. 10: It was a field day for cricket veterans in Assam today. While 22 of the veterans laced up their spikes and strapped their gloves to wield the willow on a sunny afternoon at Nehru Stadium, the others occupied the stands to cheer.
Among the 22 men in yellow-and-white was former Test stumper Syed Kirmani, who made no mistake in facing former state left-arm seamer Gautam Dutta, one of most successful pacers Assam has ever produced.
Marking the 15th Foundation Day of the Veteran Cricket Association of Assam, the T20 match was between the VCAA President XI, led by Badal Thakur, and Secretary XI, led by Pranab Phukan. The latter clinched a two-wicket victory with an over left to spare. The fun was not in the match but the struggle for fitness by most of the veterans who had hung up their boots some 20 years ago.
Against all odds, the President XI piled up 120 and the Secretary XI men chased it successfully. “It was a competitive affair,” said one of the players Nasir Gul Khan, who is also the secretary of the VCAA. “I was not expecting this game. I feel honoured to rub shoulders with my contemporaries from Assam in this match,” Kirmani said.
The programme ended with a felicitation ceremony at Deshbhakta Tarun Ram Phookan Indoor Stadium. Apart from Vijay Hazare Trophy runners-up Assam senior team, players like Abhinab Choudhury (under-16), Sidhartha Sankar Baruah (under-19), Pritam Das (under-25), Pallab Das (senior), Ritu Dhruv (girl’s under-19), Jenevi Pandu (women) were felicitated for their performance last year.
Seasoned off-spinner Arlen Konwar was also honoured. Pranabjit Chaliha of Sivasagar was honoured with the sports organiser award while former state first class player Anup Ghatak was conferred the lifetime achievement award of Rs 30,000 posthumously. He passed away last month. Conferring the awards and citations to those feted, Kirmani appealed to the cricketers to emulate Sachin Tendulkar, who announced his retirement from cricket today, and respect the rules set for a player to be successful in the career.