CRICKET | Karnataka’s maiden Ranji Trophy title winners feted in a grand function

CRICKET | Karnataka’s maiden Ranji Trophy title winners feted in a grand function

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Team members of the 1974 Karnataka with the Ranji Trophy during the Golden Jubilee Year of its 1st Ranji title win at the KSCA stadium in Bengaluru. From left: S. Vijayaprakash, Siddrama, Arun Kumar, Brijesh Patel, B.S. Chandrashekar, EAS Prasanna, G.R. Vishwanath, Syed Kirmani, Sudhakar Rao, B. Raghunath, A.V. Jayaprakash and Sanjay Desai.
| Photo Credit: K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

 

The golden jubilee of Karnataka’s maiden Ranji Trophy triumph (1973-74), that had broken Bombay’s 15-year stranglehold, was celebrated at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday, with a glittering felicitation function organised for the victorious team members.

On March 27, 1974 in Jaipur, Karnataka, led by the off-spin wizard EAS Prasanna, beat a strong Rajasthan side captained by Hanumant Singh by 185 runs to lift the first of eight Ranji Trophy titles.

The nostalgia-filled event on Wednesday was graced by Prasanna, G.R. Viswanath, B.S. Chandrasekhar, Brijesh Patel, Syed Kirmani, A.V. Jayaprakash, B. Sudhakar Rao, Sanjay Desai, S. Vijayprakash, B. Siddaramu, R. Arunkumar and B. Raghunath. Tributes were also paid to the three departed souls V.S. Vijay Kumar, B. Vijayakrishna and K. Lakshman.

“The win was very satisfying,” Prasanna recollected. “The likes of Kirmani, Jayaprakash, Vijayakrishna lifted their games and scored on a wicket [in the final] that was conducive to our kind of bowling. The Karnataka team may not have looked very good on paper, but we were very effective on the pitch.”

But much before Chandrasekhar bowled last man C.G. Joshi, the Karnataka team had slipped into a different kind of euphoria. On the rest day between the third and fourth days, members had partaken in Holi festivities and ingested Bhang, unknowingly.

“It took us two days to come down to earth [from the high],” Viswanath said, as the audience guffawed. “Everybody in the team was just laughing. But I had become very serious. The England tour was coming up, and I was a bit worried about that. I didn’t get runs in the final.

“But the important thing was that we won. The train journey back to Bangalore, which was supposed to be for two days, took nearly 3.5 days as the train stopped everywhere. But not a single passenger complained that the train was late.”

G.R. Vishwanath and wife Kavit celebrate their wedding anniversary during Karnataka’s Golden Jubilee Year of its 1st Ranji Trophy win at KSCA stadium in Bengaluru.DU

G.R. Vishwanath and wife Kavit celebrate their wedding anniversary during Karnataka’s Golden Jubilee Year of its 1st Ranji Trophy win at KSCA stadium in Bengaluru.DU
| Photo Credit:
K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

That last lap of victory was not without its fair share of drama. “We thought all arrangements for our return journey would be taken care of,” recalled Prasanna. “But when we reached Delhi, we didn’t have tickets for Bangalore.

“A railway official recognised us and got us tickets, via Chennai. Even our Chennai-Bangalore tickets weren’t booked! And by the time we reached Bangalore, all the joy had come down.”

One of the highlights of the triumphant campaign was Karnataka’s victory over Bombay in the semifinal, and Prasanna’s dismissal of Sunil Gavaskar.

“It is one of the greatest deliveries I have ever seen,” said Viswanath. “I was standing at first slip. It wasn’t a doosra, teesra or leg-cutter. Just a proper off-spinner that left the batter slightly. Sunil had covered everything, but may have just left a millimetre open. And Pras got him.”

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