Guwahati, Dec. 25: It was 11.29am — three minutes into the post-lunch session of the fourth day’s play —when Arlen Konwar triggered celebrations of a different kind at Nehru Stadium ground here by scripting an entry into the history of Assam’s cricket when the world was celebrating Christmas.
Konwar struck for the wicket of Andhra Pradesh batsman Bodapati Sumanth, caught by Sibsankar Roy at short leg, off the last delivery of his fourth over in the visitors’ second innings to become the first ever bowler from the state to take 200 first class wickets.
The man who takes hardly five steps to deliver some of the best turners by any Indian spinner, ran across the ground celebrating before all his teammates gathered into a huddle. Skipper Dheeraj Jadhav, a man who rarely shows his emotions, hugged and lifted up the achiever of the day.
Later on in the innings, Konwar accounted for three more dismissals, including Amol Muzumdar, during whose captaincy he had completed his 100-wicket mark, to return with the figures of four for 46 off 28 overs. He has so far tallied 29 wickets from seven matches this season to be the highest wicket-taking spinner from East Zone.
“It is a different kind of feeling because I had to wait for several matches to achieve this. The conditions were not favourable for spinners in those matches. It is definitely a sense of fulfilment but not complacence. I want to carry on as long as I can,” a beaming Konwar said after the match, when he was felicitated by the Assam Cricket Association with a memento and Rs 15,000.
Konwar, who made his debut against Jharkhand in the 2001-02 season, achieved the mark in his 64th first class match.
Konwar was eyeing the feat from last season but had to remain content with only eight wickets playing for Railways where he had to cool his heels in the dressing room in five matches.
“It is a big morale booster and the ACA’s gesture is very encouraging. My next aim is to help our team qualify for the knockouts and make the season a big one because we are one of the best teams this time,” he told The Telegraph.
“But it pains me to realise that we are yet to have consistent spinners from our state to succeed me in a few years. All our efforts to produce spinners are going in vain,” the 31-year-old, who attributed his success to the efforts of his initial coach Pranab Baruah and spin wizard Bishen Singh Bedi under whom he had trained for some time, said.
Skipper Jadhav described Konwar as a trendsetter and hoped the youngsters would emulate him. “It is a great achievement by any bowler. He is capable of doing wonders. I wish he achieves more feats in the future,” the Pune professional said.
Muzumdar, who is a former teammate, also termed the feat as a rare one and hoped Konwar would continue to script more and more records. “Taking 200 wickets in first class cricket is no joke. He is worthy of all praise,” the Mumbai professional told The Telegraph.
Congratulating Konwar, Assam coach Subhrajit Saikia described the achievement as one which can help him rejuvenate his career. “I wish him more success,” he added.