Cricket is all about getting your strategies and tactics spot on, and then eventually building up on them to script success. In order to achieve success from out of the box strategies, a team must have the presence of a shrewd and astute leader who can experiment efficiently. One such captain was MV Sridhar, who led Hyderabad in the 1997/98 season of the Ranji Trophy.
Sridhar back then, used such a strategy, which would only invite ire and criticism. But as things turned out, it was this strategy which benefited his team to a great extent.
In the 1997/98 edition of the Ranji Trophy the points were allocated on the following basis:
- 8 points for an outright win
- 5 points for achieving a first innings lead in a draw
- 3 points for conceding a first innings lead in a draw
- 2 points for abandoned matches
- No points for a loss
Before Hyderabad took on Tamil Nadu in Chepauk, things looked bleak for Hyderabad. While Karnataka headed the table with 24 points in 4 games; Tamil Nadu stood second with 10 points and Hyderabad too had 10 points, but from an extra game. In all, a team would play a maximum of five games in the round, before moving on to the quarter finals. It was a tight situation as every single point mattered.
In Chepauk, it rained cats and dogs, and that was a spoilsport. However, Hyderabad batted as soon as the rain stopped but found it extremely hard to score the runs. Arvind Kumar and Daniel Manohar opened the innings, only to be troubled by Robin Singh and his new ball bowlers. Both the openers were sent back to the pavilion with just 15 on board. The skies opened up again when the score was 30-2 and there was no further play on day one or day two.
MV Sridhar, the Hyderabad skipper then played a masterstroke by declaring at 30-2. With more rain predicted for the rest of the game, Sridhar knew that by getting just two points from an abandoned clash wouldn’t help his cause. As soon as the rain stopped, he put Tamil Nadu in to bat. Because of the heavy rain forecasted, Sridhar knew that Tamil Nadu wouldn’t push for an outright win. Even if Tamil Nadu made more than 30 (Hyderabad’s first innings score), Tamil Nadu would get 5 points, while Hyderabad would get 3. Getting 3 points was much better than getting 2 from an abandoned game. Thus Sridhar decided to put Tamil Nadu in, rather than continuing batting.
Tami Nadu too struggled and eventually made just 33-1 in 22.5 overs before rain had the final say. No further play was possible and the game ended in a draw. Hyderabad got 3 points from the game, and the extra point was the benefit.
In the next game for Hyderabad, it was an easy victory over Goa as skipper Azharuddin returned. Hyderabad won the quarter finals as well, but lost in a nail biting semi-final to Karnataka by just one wicket.
Hyderabad might not have won the title, but their skipper ensured that it was a memorable campaign for them.
Here’s the brief scores of the match –
Hyderabad 30 for 2 declared. drew with Tamil Nadu 33 for 1.