Life's biggest achievement - Chatterjee
Over time, when they look back at the history of the game for inspiration, they would do well to consider Soumik Chatterjee's unbeaten 34, made on one leg and with plenty of bravado. Unable to walk, the Services captain had been carried off by four of his team-mates from the dressing room to the team bus on day one, after he'd badly damaged his left knee while fielding. He'd dragged himself out to the middle to bat at No 11 in the Services first innings, and lasted one delivery. In the second, with Services 54 for 5 in their chase of 113, Chatterjee hobbled in again and went on to play the most significant innings of his career, which led to what he called the biggest achievement of his life.
"This match is my life's biggest achievement," Chatterjee said of Services' Ranji Trophy quarter-final win over Uttar Pradesh. "Maine ye socha tha ki aaunga toh jitaake aaunga, warna baahar nahi aaunga [I won't come back without winning it for the team]. Yes, I was injured but I knew that if I made up my mind, I could win the game for the team.
"It was a matter of having a partnership for five-six overs. When that happens, the other side loses the advantage. I knew that if I and Rajat [Paliwal] could play out five-six overs, the game would be ours."
Chatterjee was asked whether he had thought about the chance of aggravating his injury when deciding to come out to bat. Scans had revealed serious clotting around the knee. "There was no risk. Even if I lose my life, I will always be there for team," he replied in the emotional aftermath of victory.
When Chatterjee came out to bat, the immediate reaction among journalists watching the game was that with his perceived inability to run, he would end up squeezing out any remaining momentum from the chase. But to everyone's disbelief, he soon started limping and then, unable to bear the pain, hopping on his fit right leg for singles.
Wing Commander Deepak Bhaskar, the Services manager, said it was a collective decision by himself, the coach and Chatterjee to send in the captain at No 7. "We were not sure whether he would be able to run," Bhaskar said. "It was all down to him, how he felt out there when he started batting."
While Chatterjee was sure he would be able to recover in time for the semi-final starting on January 16, Bhaskar was more realistic. "It is a call we will have to take," Bhaskar said. "We will see how his treatment goes."
There is still more than a week left for the semi-finals, and for the moment, Chatterjee was grateful to all his team-mates. "All 11 players of the side are special and I give credit to all of them," Chatterjee said. "We won because of all of them. Not only the 11, but all the 15 (in the squad) and the 17, including the coach and the manager, and also the four who have sat out, I credit them all. We won because of all their hard work."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo