Saturday, December 17, 2005


May I watch Eknath Solkar get his 100?

The first TV in our building (rather neighbourhood) arrived with Clive Lloyd’s West Indians in late 1974. It came into the home of the Bhats on the ground floor. The Bhats soon realized what a heady cocktail live TV and cricket can make. The entire neighbourhood wanted to watch Clive Lloyd and his merry men smash the Indians to pulp. The Bhats had a simple solution to the problem: A house full board outside their door on match days. I kid you not!

The first TV in our home arrived with the new year of 1975. It was – hold your breath – a 24-inch Standard TV that my father had managed to buy through connections in the customs department. The West Indies were playing India at the spanking new Wankhade Stadium in Mumbai. After losing the first two Tests, India had come back with two wins, thanks to our famed spin quartet and the original little master, Gundappa Vishwath, who single handedly stood up to the fiery Andy Roberts. A keen contest was on the cards.

All I remember of the first two days is Lloyd’s double hundred, suitably aided by Bedi’s butter fingers. On the third day, Lloyd put India out of their misery, declaring for a mammoth 600-odd. Gavaskar provided some early fireworks with a stunning assault on Gibbs.

The next day, as Eknath Solkar edgily, scratchily neared his first Test hundred, there was a knock on our door. A complete stranger stood outside. He said he was a friend of Solkar, showed us a picture of them together to prove it, and wanted to watch Ekki get his ton. Join the party, we said. And he squeezed his way into our crowded living room. Solkar got his ton (if I remember right, he almost got run out running the hundredth run), the stranger thanked my dad profusely and left, Vishwanath played an uncharacteristic innings of 90 and India lost by an innings.

That was the only time one of my brothers, always in the minority of one, scored brownie points in the eternal who-is-better-Vishwnath-or-Gavaskar debate.

It was such a long time ago, I may have mixed up some of the details. My memory is not as good as it used to be :)

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