THE YEAR witnessed some memorable, some forgettable and some sad moments for sports in Indore. While a few legendary figures passed away, some others hung their boots. There were also glimpses of the making of champions.
One of the singular achievements of the sporting fraternity here could be the successful hosting of the one-day international between India and England on April 15 at the newly constructed Usha Raje Cricket Stadium by the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA). The pitch was good, India won the match and MPCA earned more than Rs 1 crore.
For Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was then the chairman of MPCA and later elected president, it was a memorable occasion, as his father the late Madhavrao Scindia had dreamt of hosting an international match at MPCA’s own stadium. Until this stadium was constructed (in a record time), matches were played at the Nehru Stadium, which also used double up as venues for political meeting and other cultural activities.
Along with the stadium, MPCA, under the young dynamic leadership of Jyotiraditya Scindia and secretary Sanjay Jagdale, sought to work for the development of the game right from the district level.
Jagdale, incidentally, was appointed as one of the national selectors for a record sixth time. ‘Catch talent from the rural areas’ was the catchword. It is also decided to improve the infrastructure, including turf pitches, at the district level. MPCA appointed former Indian seam bowler Balwinder Singh Sandhu to coach the State team and everything seemed looking bright for Madhya Pradesh cricket. But the good things ended there.
Madhya Pradesh team, which just two seasons ago had defeated Mumbai in the Elite Group of Ranji Trophy, suddenly found its fortunes going down. Last year it was relegated to the Plate Group and even in that they lost in the final to Saurashtra and thus remained in the Plate Group. There were some hopes this year that the team might bounce back.
But they have lost all their matches this year including to the lowly Kerala and Goa. If the senior team’s performance has hit the rock bottom, the less said the better about the junior team. Even the local Indore team has not fared any better, losing matches to teams from Sagar, which does not even have a turf wicket for its players to practice on.
Observors here feel that the reason is lack of a second string of players. For example, in the senior team, wicketkeeper Naman Ojha has been there for seasons with only occasional good performances, but cannot be replaced because there is no alternative in sight.
There are talents like Mohnish Mishra, Anand Rajan and Brajesh Tomar, but the seniors have not been firing, as a result of which the team has failed. But a ray of hope comes in the words of Sanjay Jagdale who feels that every team goes through such patch and the team can come back in about two years time.
While the cricket story was pathetic, there were some sad moments too. Hockey wizard and Olympian Shankar Laxman passed away after suffering from gangrene in nearby Mhow. Some other big names who passed away included former BCCI secretary A W Kanmadikar.
It was because of Kanmadikar’s singular efforts that Indore got to host the a World Cup match in 1987. Former Test cricketer Narendra Hirwani hung his boots and another former Indian player Amay Khurasia found himself out of the State team.
On the positive notes, Border Security Force had the opportunity to host the shooting selection trials for Asian Games here and some prominent shooters were seen in action. It was a proud moment when Puja Reddy of the Indian Airlines created a national record by scoring 573 points in the 50-metre rifle three position junior category at the 50th National Shooting Championship. Similarly, two shooters of the Army Marksmanship Unit, Mhow — Naib Subedar Vijay Kumar and Havildar Imran Khan — won bronze medals in the recent Doha Asian Games.
Then there was Ashwini Tare who brought laurels in the World Yoga competition. But an individual who shone like a bright star was local lass Aishwariya Agarwal, who won the Asian Junior Tennis Championship twice in Sri Lanka, and once each at Chennai, Gurgaon and Bangkok in the age group U-14. There is no doubt that the year 2007 would witness Aishwariya marching further in her chosen field.