When Sachin Tendulkar caught Hemang Badani’s signal in a Ranji Trophy game
Sachin Tendulkar, leading Mumbai’s fightback during the Ranji Trophy semi-finals of 1999-2000, recalled how he dashed Tamil Nadu’s plans to dismiss him at a function on the eve of Mumbai’s landmark 500th game against Barodacricket Updated: Nov 09, 2017 10:29 IST
Sachin Tendulkar may have read the body language of international rivals in an illustrious career, but he had to be extra vigilant to pick the tactics in a vital Ranji Trophy match to upstage Tamil Nadu.
Speaking at a function on the eve of the Mumbai cricket team’s landmark 500th Ranji match against Baroda, 83 years after playing the first, its cricket icons regaled the audience and young cricketers with what it took to mould their never-say-die (khadoos) reputation.
Tendulkar picked the Ranji semis of 1999-2000 against Tamil Nadu, when he scored a double century with the No 11 batsman for company, to help get the vital first innings lead. Mumbai eventually won by eight wickets to enter the final.
A ball change suddenly helped reverse swing, and Tendulkar stood outside the crease to negate the movement. “I started to stand outside the crease. Hemang Badani would tell the bowler from cover point in Tamil that I was standing outside. I then went into the crease when the bowler started his run-up. After the match I told Hemang that I understand Tamil,” he said.
Perhaps Badani forgot that Tendulkar’s first love was pace bowling and it was the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai where he tried his luck.
Tendulkar also recalled the 1988 Ranji season, which he spent in the Mumbai dressing room as a 14-year-old. He didn’t get to play, but it helped him rapidly mature as a cricketer.
“I was selected at the age of 14 to go to Baroda. We travelled by train. My room partner was Suru Nayak. It was appropriately selected for me to make sure I slept on time and all that sort of things.
“All in all, the experience was overwhelming and, as time went by, with all these greats of Indian cricket, I started feeling at home. I didn’t play a single game that year (but) it was that time that made me belong to Mumbai cricket. I was never out of place after that.”
Former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar also spoke about a sensational Ranji Trophy final for Mumbai in the 1990-91 season, though they lost to Kapil Dev-led Haryana, who claimed their only national title.
Mumbai were three wickets down by lunch chasing a target of 355, and Vengsarkar was preparing to go out to bat. “We had lost our top three batsmen by lunch time and were chasing 355.
“In the old Wankhede Stadium dressing rooms we used to have common toilets. I was padded up and went to the toilet before heading to the pitch. I met Kapil Dev there, who came to me and said: ‘Dilip let us win one time.’”
Mumbai were dismissed for 352 in the end to lose by a mere two runs. Vengsarkar, unbeaten on 139 in one of the great Ranji innings of all time, was reduced to tears.