November 18, 2001

Kambli sparkles with a brilliant century in Mumbai

Vinod Kambli
Kambli - brilliant ton
Photo AFP

It was eight years ago that Vinod Kambli scored a Test double hundred against England at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. On Sunday, the latest England attack was at the receiving end as the local hero smashed his way to 109 runs off 111 balls. Mumbai Cricket Association President's XI then closed their innings on 373/5 at the end of the first day's play in the two-day match against England XI at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. Without an iota of doubt, Kambli's knock was the highlight of the day's play. There was almost nothing for the touring men to take heart from, other than the fact that they spent one whole day in the field under a scorching sun.

Nasser Hussain did not hesitate to bowl first after winning the toss; he had pinned high hopes on the three fast bowlers making early inroads. MCA XI openers Wasim Jaffer and Vinayak Mane though were in no mood to gift away their wicket. Jaffer was particularly harsh against some wayward bowling from Matthew Hoggard, James Ormond and Craig White. The fast bowlers were guilty of bowling short and on both sides of the wicket.

There was some moisture trapped in the track and with the sun beating down on it, the pitch transformed itself into a batting beauty. Jaffer played a few sweet cover drives and whipped the ball through midwicket for fours. Mane too joined in the fun, playing a couple of rasping drives. The two put together 100 runs for the first wicket before Mane was tragically run out in the 23rd over. After playing the ball to Graham Thorpe in the covers, Mane took off for a quick single. Jaffer was not too keen on the single and Mane was sent back. Mane wearing shoes with rubber soles slipped and ran himself out. The young opening batsman made 33 runs off 65 balls with the help of six boundaries.

In walked Kambli and he went through his customary early innings jitters. MCA XI went in for lunch at 123/1, with Kambli on 11* and Jaffer on 69*. The second session was sheer entertainment, Kambli smashing the bowling to all parts of the field. The English bowlers were getting tired and they slowed down proceedings a bit. That though was not going to stop Kambli from scoring 95 runs off the session to go to 106*. The post-lunch session produced 141 runs off 27 overs and MCA XI only lost the wicket of Jaffer.

Jaffer was on 99 when he flicked a delivery from Craig White to Richard Dawson at mid-wicket, the simple catch was taken and the unlucky Jaffer missed out on a well-deserved hundred. Jaffer faced 148 balls and struck 15 fours in his knock. The two batsmen put together 126 runs for the second wicket.

Soon after tea, MCA XI lost the valuable wicket of Vinod Kambli, which slowed down the run rate considerably. Kambli was caught by Uzman Afzaal off the bowling of the off-spinner Dawson after making 109. The former India Test batsman punished the English attack for 19 boundaries in his stay in the middle. Amol Mazumdar (4) failed, falling in the same over from Dawson, caught by Nasser Hussain.

Hoggard bowled a brilliant spell in the evening, giving away just six runs off five overs. It is the kind of stuff that England will be looking for in the Test matches. Neil Foster bowled such a spell in Chepauk many years ago and that set up a great Test victory for the tourists. The only difference here being Hoggard went wicket-less.

Bhavin Thakkar (46) was caught by Thorpe off the bowling of Ramprakash. It was left to the experienced Sairaj Bahutule to show his batting skills. He remained unbeaten on 52 off 103 balls, which included eight boundaries. Abhjiy Shetye was unbeaten on 10 at close of play.

Dawson was a completely different bowler when he started giving the ball more air. The young off-spinner will have to bowl a lot during the tour and he seems to be building up a nice rhythm. Ramprakash and Vaughan had to do bit of bowling, which would hold the tourists in good stead. England will look forward to a full day's batting tomorrow and it is also an opportunity for their senior batsmen to run in to some good form.