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Let’s gate together now!

Updated on: 27 April,2023 07:00 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Clayton Murzello |

After Sydney Cricket Ground pays tribute to Tendulkar and Lara by naming their turf-access gates after them, here’s a fantasy list of Indian grounds that can also honour some of their top overseas contributors

Let’s gate together now!

India’s Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his century in front of a packed Sydney Cricket Ground Members Stand during the 2007-08 Test. Pic/Getty Images

Clayton MurzelloThe Sydney Cricket Ground authorities have paid Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara an apt tribute by naming their turf-access gates for visiting team players, after the two batting greats. Both players have special affinity for the ground. It was here in 1991-92 that Tendulkar’s 148 made him the youngest (18) player to score a Test century on Australian soil.

Tendulkar was to carve another hundred in that series, a blistering 114 in the final Test at Perth, but Richie Benaud, who commentated on both knocks, opined in his Greatest XI DVD that Tendulkar’s Sydney knock “was regarded” by those who have seen a lot of cricket Down Under as “quite possibly the best innings they’ve 
ever seen.”

Meanwhile, Lara’s 277 at Sydney in 1992-93 was his first three-figure Test score under the maroon West Indies cap. Benaud reckoned that the little Trinidadian “lit up the whole of Sydney with his knock there,” while Ian Chappell, who also called that game from the commentators’ box, revealed in an interview that his friend Sir Garfield Sobers, who is not known to stay glued to the action, watched every ball of Lara’s sizzling knock.

Interestingly, Lara played three more Tests at the New South Wales venue, but his best effort in those visits was only 36 – in his last Test innings there in 2005-06. Tendulkar on the other hand, came up with 241 not out in 2003-04 and an unbeaten 154 in the controversial 2007-08 game.

Also Read: Sachin Tendulkar calls the 1990s 'one of the darkest phases' in Indian cricket

Australia has taken the lead in naming turf-access gates after overseas players who have come up with great deeds at a ground, and I wonder if the rest of the world will emulate them. I indulged in a bit of fantasy and wondered which Indian grounds (who have staged 15 or more Tests) would honour which overseas greats, had they the desire to do so. Here goes…

Ian Botham: Wankhede, Mumbai

England’s Ian Botham came up with an all-round performance worthy of the Gods as he captured 13 India wickets and scored a hundred for the Mike Brearley-led side, to clinch the BCCI’s Golden Jubilee Test in early 1980. No bowler claimed more wickets than Botham in a Wankhede Test before New Zealander Ajaz Patel’s 14 scalps in December 2021.

Rohan Kanhai: Eden Gardens

Like Lara in Sydney in 1992-93, Rohan Kanhai, the West Indies coach for that series, got his maiden three-figure Test score in the form of a big double century (256). Kanhai was at the crease for six hours and hit 42 fours, an effort which resulted in an innings defeat for India, led by Ghulam Ahmed. In 1966-67, Kanhai fell short of an Eden century by 10 runs.

Neil Harvey: Brabourne, Mumbai

Australia’s Neil Harvey figured in two Tests at this splendid venue and scored hundreds in both. In the 1956-57 Test, he worked his way to 140 in 73 overs. He took 368 minutes to reach his hundred and delight the crowd. In 1959-60, his 102 was part of a then record India v Australia third wicket partnership of 207 runs, with fellow batting hero Norman O’Neill.

Vivian Richards: Jaitley Stadium

Vivian Richards took no time in settling into international cricket with a memorable 192 not out in his second Test – at the Kotla in 1974-75. His knock played a role in India going 0-2 down in the series before they were resurrected through the batting genius of Gundappa Viswanath in Kolkata and Chennai. In the 1987-88 game, skipper Richards’s unbeaten 109 out of 276 gave Dilip Vengsarkar’s Indian team no chance to prevent the West Indies from racing away to a five-wicket win.

Malcolm Marshall: Green Park 

Malcolm Marshall knew only one way to kick off the 1983-84 series at Kanpur – with an all-round performance which would go down in the books as one of the finest in West Indies’ touring history – eight wickets and 92 runs – to pierce the first nail of revenge for the 1983 World Cup final loss to India. ‘Marshall Law in Kanpur’ screamed a headline in a newspaper and it was so true. Marshall and his fellow pacemen claimed 19 of the 20 Indian wickets to fall.

AB: Narendra Modi Stadium

South Africa’s AB de Villiers has earned kudos for his batting in limited overs cricket. But his 217 not out in the 2007-08 game added to India’s grief after they were bowled out for 76 on Day One of the Test. South Africa followed up that Dale Steyn-fuelled bowling performance by putting up 494. India fared better in their second dig (328), but that was not enough to duck an innings defeat at Motera.

Younis Khan: Chinnaswamy, B’lore

Pakistan’s Younis Khan 267 played a massive role in the Inzamam-ul-Haq-led team’s win over Sourav Ganguly’s side, who were hoping to win the series. The Inzy-Younis partnership of 324 helped Pakistan amass 570. Younis frustrated India in the second innings as well, with 84 not out, before India were bowled out for 214, succumbing to spin.

Deano: Chidambaram, Chennai

This southern India venue has witnessed some great performances, but Dean Jones’s double century in the 1986-87 Tied Test was quite clearly an innings of a lifetime. The Victorian’s knock had everything – guts, skill, application and temperament. For a cricketer playing in only his third Test and batting at the critical No. 3 position for the first time in Test cricket, the late Jones’s performance was more than just outstanding.

mid-day’s group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello

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