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Shodhan relives scoring ton against Pak

In a career spanning just three Tests, Deepak Shodhan pocketed the rare distinction of scoring a Test hundred against Pak on debut.

india Updated: Mar 05, 2004 17:11 IST

Although akin in style to some of India's batting legends like Lala Amarnath and Vijay Hazare of his times, Deepak Shodhan is not a household name in this cricket crazy nation today.

But in his short international career spanning just three Tests, Shodhan pocketed a rare distinction of being the first Indian cricketer to score a Test hundred against Pakistan on debut— a feat which any budding cricketer would dream of achieving against the arch-rivals.

"Aggression and a tremendous fighting instinct," says 75-year old Shodhan, when asked what would be the key to the success of Sourav Ganguly and his boys, who begin their historic tour of Pakistan on March 10.

Coming as a tailender at number 8, the left-handed Shodhan made the most of the chance he got to play in place of an unfit Hazare and scored 110 making his debut at Madras against a formidable Pakistan on December 13, 1952.

India had won the five Test series 2-1.

"Indian players lack aggression and a fighting spirit, which will be the key to our success. They have to develop their attitude and be mentally very tough against a hostile crowd there (in Pakistan)", Shodhan told PTI in an exclusive interview here today.

Citing an example of his own aggression that saw him smash the attacking Pakistan bowlers, Shodhan said: "I was an attacking player myself. I relished the attacking field set by Pakistan. Even when the ninth wicket was lost, I managed to hit two consecutive boundaries to reach 100."

Interestingly, Shodhan had caught the eyes of selectors for his unbeaten 84 against Pakistan while playing for West Zone in Ahmedabad in the same year.

However, Shodhan said he was not in favour of India embarking on the present tour as the team had been playing too much cricket of late.

"Our team has just had a long and strenuous series in Australia while Pakistan has got enough time to prepare. It is too early to embark on this tour. Too much cricket has resulted in injuries to some players," he said.

When asked how would the battle shape up in the series, he said, "The matches would be tense. Both teams will be giving their best. It would be an exciting series".

Shodhan, who improvised on his batting as essentially he was a left-arm spinner, also lamented that the Indian bowlers were "gullible" and felt there was severe drought of international quality speedsters in the country.

"I don't know why there are no quality fast bowlers. Despite a tendency amongst youngsters to go in for pace bowling, we just can't find one," he said.

"Pakistan definitely has an edge over us in the bowling department given the ability of their pacers to swing the bowl like the bowlers from other cricket playing nations. Our bowlers are unable to trace the weakness of the batsmen", he remarked.

Stating that batting would be India's main weapon, Shodhan heaped praises on Indian vice-captain Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman.

"Bowling is our only worry... No one is lethal", Shodhan said while advising young seamer Irfan Pathan to improve on his line and length.

"The players must not be distracted by a hostile crowd there and not panic thinking how would people here react to losing. They must take it as any other game of cricket instead of constantly thinking about the opponent," he said.

First Published: Mar 05, 2004 17:11 IST