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Team-mates pay tribute to former India allrounder Rusi Surti, who died at the age of 76
January 13, 2013
Chandu Borde, former India team-mate
When a batsman hit the ball hard, Rusi, usually standing at a close-in position, would rush to the ball. That approach was completely in contrast to the rest of fielders who would normally wait for the ball to come. He was a very good allrounder and if he had played one-day cricket, he would have been really successful. He was an asset to the Indian side.
Unfortunately, he was not consistent and that played against him. But his best quality was his grit. He was a jigar baaz (braveheart) cricketer. He would never take things lying down, he always liked to fight it out.
Bapu Nadkarni, former India team-mate
He was a very old colleague of mine. We played together for about 18 years for Bombay and Times of India in the local Mumbai leagues. He was a really bold, big-hearted cricketer. Take the example of the second Test of the 1967-68 tour of Australia: it was a horrible wicket, an absolute green pitch with lot of movement. There was no chance we could face the likes of Garth McKenzie. India won the toss and elected to bat and were 25 for 5. Surti had retired earlier, hit just that once by McKenzie, but returned later to give Tiger (Nawab of Pataudi Jr) good support. If not for their daring knocks (and partnership worth 74 runs for the eighth wicket), India would have faced the disgrace of getting out for a low total. Rusi's 30 was the finest innings on one of the fastest pitches, and he was proud of that innings, but would never talk about it himself. I have not seen a bigger fighter than him against all odds. Whatever side, tournament and level he played for, Rusi was a great team man.
Farokh Engineer, former India team-mate
"Uska baap ka kya gaya [how would it matter to him?]" was the line Rusi loved to use from his young days. Delivering it with that Parsi-Gujarati accent, he made it sound more interesting. He once said it reacting to Bill Lawry in the 1967 Mumbai Test, after the Australian had missed an easy full toss. Rusi, standing at silly mid-on, had turned his back as the batsman went for the stroke, but as soon as he heard the Australian captain use curse words, he instinctively came up with his favourite line. I had to pacify him in native Gujarati, but Rusi would not listen.
I had known him from our days at the Dadar Parsi Colony Sporting Club and our careers ran parallel. He was an extremely talented player and a brilliant fielder. Along with Tiger Pataudi, Eknath Solkar, Abid Ali and myself behind the stumps, we comprised a very good fielding unit at one time. I would thank Rusi for improving my wicketkeeping skills. Playing for the Parsi Cylicsts in the Kanga League on horribly wet pitches, he would turn the ball from wide outside the leg stump and curl it outside off stump. He should have played more Test matches considering he was an extremely talented cricketer.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Nagraj Gollapudi
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