Venkatesh Prasad retires aged 35
The former Indian seam bowler, Venkatesh Prasad, has announced his retirement from cricket. Fittingly, Prasad made the announcement at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, his homeground, and spent the evening recounting his playing days in a get together with Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble.
Prasad, 35, played 33 Tests and 161 one-day internationals for India in a five-year career, in which he took 96 Test wickets and formed a regular opening bowling partnership with Javagal Srinath. He made his Test debut against England at Edgbaston in 1996, where he took 4 for 71 in the first innings, including Graeme Hick for 8 - his first Test victim. Although neither he nor Srinath returned outstanding statistics for the series, they bowled with immense skill and tenacity and, according to Wisden, established themselves as "one of the best new-ball attacks in the world".
Prasad was also a regular in the Indian one-day side and made a mark with his fast legcutters when the pressure was on. The moment when he tore through the rising tension and shattered Aamir Sohail's stumps, in the World Cup quarter-final at Bangalore, will always live in the memory. His final international match was an ignominious one-day defeat against Kenya in the Standard Bank Triangular series in October 2001. He continued playing first-class cricket till December 2003 and was an outside contender for India's tour of Australia that season.
Born in Bangalore in August 1969, Prasad was also an integral member of the Karnataka side that dominated the domestic scene in the mid-ninties. He played his part in Karnataka's two Ranji Trophy triumphs and finished with 361 wickets at 27.75 including three ten-wicket hauls.
He is now a qualified coach and was put in charge af India's Under-19 side in January this year. He was also mentioned as a candidate for the bowling coach of the national side.
Venky, as he was fondly called, will be remembered as many things: Srinath's able ally; lanky medium-pacer who utilised seaming conditions wonderfully,; a gentle giant who could surprise the best with his change of pace and variations; and a classical No. 11 who made us chew our nails frantically when he walked out to bat.