Rain stops Shailendra Kirtikar from witnessing India's MCG win!

Dec 31, 2018, 08:33 IST | Clayton Murzello

Delay on Day 5 forces Shailendra, who played under head coach Ravi Shastri at Podar College, to leave Melbourne for Singapore before India clinch third Test

Rain stops Shailendra Kirtikar from witnessing India's MCG win!
The MCG groundstaff appear helpless as rain delays the start of Day Five in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/AFP

Rain could not prevent India from winning the third Test against Australia yesterday. But the wet weather did manage to thwart an Indian's ambition of witnessing an India victory at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Shailendra Kirtikar, 56, a Singapore-based wealth manager's planned holiday included watching the first four days of the Test match. Had Pat Cummins not played out of his skin to score 61 unbeaten runs on the penultimate day of the Test, Kirtikar would have ended his break on an ideal note and left for his Sunday afternoon Melbourne-Singapore flight satisfied with the thought that he saw India's third Test win in the Victorian city in 71 years of the rivalry.

Shailendra Kirtikar at the MCG
Shailendra Kirtikar at the MCG

Deprived of Day Five action
Cummins's brilliant show with the bat saw the Test stretch to Day Five and as predicted, rain caused enough delay for Kirtikar to cancel plans of heading to the stadium. Instead, he packed his bags and headed to the airport. Around nine hours later, he landed in Singapore and figured that India had won the Test. "Yes, I am disappointed that I could not be at the ground but it was so good to know that India managed to win," said Kirtikar, who played in a Podar College team under current India head coach Ravi Shastri.

Tickets for the first four days of the Melbourne Test were booked well in advance and the only reason why he didn't include Day Five in his plans was because he had to be back in office on December 31. "I arrived in Melbourne on the morning of December 26 and I had to inform the immigration personnel that I want to be at the ground at the time of the toss. I managed that," he said.

Kirtikar's unforgettable memory of the Melbourne Test was Cheteshwar Pujara's sublime century that set things up for the bowlers. "It is was such a fine innings and our bowlers were spot on. Clearly, India are the strongest team in the world," he said. For someone who loved displaying correct technique, Kirtikar, who batted in the middle order, appreciated Pujara's prowess greatly.

There was another aspect of the Melbourne Test that Kirtikar will never forget - the kids among the 71,000-plus crowd on Day One. "I was delighted to notice the interest for Test cricket amidst the slam bang variety. The kids were enthused by Test cricket and that was so good to see," said Kirtikar, who watched the action just near the sightscreen at the main end. Like several cricket fans, Kirtikar was surprised that India didn't ask Australia to bat again after dismissing them for 151. "Yes, I was puzzled as to why India didn't enforce the follow on considering the bowlers didn't bowl too many overs, but look, there must have been a strategy and Virat Kolhi, Ravi, Sanjay Bangar are not idiots," he remarked.

The Kohli at college
Kirtikar had encountered a Ravi and Kohli even before fans followed them as household names. Shastri was his captain at Podar College and the team also had an opening bowler called Sanjay Kohli. This Kohli was hell bent on going all out in the Podar nets before the 1978-79 inter-collegiate semi-final against Siddharth College and Kirtikar was hit on the top of his right eye in the process, a serious enough injury to miss the match.

Podar beat Jhunjhunwala College at the Wankhede Stadium and the batting star of the final, Shishir Hattangadi, remembered yesterday how Kirtikar allowed him to play with his Gray-Nicolls Twin Scoop bat. "It was a very fine gesture by Shailendra… even when he walked to the crease, he let me continue my innings with the bat," said Hattangadi, who scored a triple hundred in the final.

The studious Kirtikar went on to make a mark in wealth management and uses cricketing anecdotes in his chats on leadership and teamwork. He'll have another bright example to bring up - the Indian team's fine comeback win at Melbourne.

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