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Hyderabad cricket in transition mode

After losing several of their starlets to ICL, Hyderabad's season of transition has finally come to an end, reports Anam Arsalan.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2007 19:05 IST
Anam Arsalan
Anam Arsalan
Hindustan Times

Times, they are a changing! At 33, Daneil Manohar finds himself as the senior-most player in the Hyderabad Ranji squad, where a year back he was one of the many stalwarts donning the Hyderabad colours.

For him, it seems everything has changed overnight. A young breed of players --- naughty, boisterous and at times rowdy --- has taken over, courtesy the Indian Cricket League (ICL), and Manohar seems caught in a time warp.

"We have a lot of new faces in the team this season. Surprisingly, these boys have grown up seeing us play and now they are playing with us," he says with a smile.

"When I see them having fun in the dressing room, it reminds me of the fun we used to have during our times. But then life's like that," he says with a philosophical undertone. "SM Shoaib is the naughtiest of the lot. Woh sab ko chabi karta rehta hai (he keeps troubling everyone). I guess most fast bowlers are like that."

For a moment, Manohar's mind wanders back to the days when he had started playing. "Even N.P. Singh --- now Hyderabad's selector --- was like that."

Incidentally, N.P. Singh and Daniel had started their careers around the same time, but the former decided to retire last year and became a selector. Daniel, despite all the temptations, abstained from joining the ICL. "I decided to stay with the team. I think it was a right decision."

So, does he miss his former teammates? "Sure, I do but then these boys too get along well with us… I mean Arjun (Yadav) and I. We are the only two seniors left in the squad."

Even as Manohar continues to speak about his career, his enlarged family gets busy with a photo-session. A slight interruption and the left-hand bat is back answering questions. "I am the odd one out in this family," he points out. "My family doesn't even like watching cricket. When I started playing cricket as a youngster, my father would always push me towards studies. It was only when I reached the Under-19 level that he actually started supporting me," says Manohar who will be 34 in March.

Recalling his Ranji debut year, he says: "It was 1997. I scored a ton against Karnataka against bowlers like (Javagal) Srinath, (Anil) Kumble and Venky (Venkatesh Prasad). That really boosted my morale and I started nurturing hopes of making it to the top league. Unfortunately, that never happened," he says with a tinge of sadness.

"Next year too I performed well. I made 131 in a Wills Trophy match. But it was not until 2002 that I got to play in the Challengers. That was the best year of my cricketing career. I made 600-odd runs in seven games with three centuries. But all went down the drain, as I could not make it to the national team. I will always regret that."

But those were old times, now Manohar enjoys the company of the young crop. "Ravi Teja is the find of the season. If you get an opportunity, do speak to him," says the opener.

Teja, the 20-year-old batsman comes across as a shy but levelheaded person. No wonder he has led the Hyderabad under-22 team to victory in the South Zone Championship.

So how does he get along with the seniors in the squad? "We have been playing with them for the last three years in various tournaments like the Buchi Babu and the league. So we get along pretty well."

This is Hyderabad cricket post-ICL migration. The young and the not so- young really complement each other.

First Published: Dec 31, 2007 19:02 IST