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5 things you need to know about Gulabrai Ramchand

Gulabrai Ramchand holds the record of best bowling figures in Pakistan © Getty Images
Gulabrai Ramchand once held the record of best bowling figures by an Indian in Pakistan. He is also the only batsman to score hundreds in four consecutive Ranji Trophy finals © Getty Images

Gulabrai Ramchand, the first captain to lead India to a victory over Australia, was born July 26, 1927. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at five things cricket fans ought to know about him.

Gulabrai Ramchand was a hard-hitting batsman, a penetrating bowler, an outstanding fielder, and a successful captain. A champion at First-Class level, Ramchand went on to lead India to their first Test victory against Australia when Jasu Patel ran through the tourists at Green Park in 1958-59. Let us, then, relive a few bits of trivia about him on what would have been his 87th birth anniversary.

1) A Taylor-made situation

Ramchand was present in a cricket awards ceremony in the 1990s; since few recognised him (as is often the norm in India when it comes to most former cricketers) he went from player to player to collect autographs for his niece. It was then that a visiting cricketer (obviously trailed by an enthusiastic crowd) walked up to him: “Sir, my name is Mark Taylor. I am here to receive an award on behalf of my team. Can I request to shake the hand of the man who led India to their first win over us?”

2) An inauspicious debut

Though he led India to one of her most historic victories, Ramchand did not have the most auspicious of Test debuts. Playing at Headingley he bagged a pair, though he managed to avoid both Alec Bedser and Fred Trueman: he was caught by Allan Watkins off Jim Laker in the first innings and stumped by Godfrey Evans off Roly Jenkins in the second.

In the process he became the 16th cricketer and the first Indian to achieve this “feat”. At the point of writing this article 38 cricketers and three Indians (Maninder Singh and Rashid Patel being the others) have faced the ignominy.

3) The record that stood 28 years

At Karachi in 1954-55 Vinoo Mankad gave Ramchand the new ball, and he rose to the occasion: doing the bulk of the bowling himself Ramchand finished with figures of six for 49, skittling out the hosts for 162. In the process he set a new record for best bowling by an Indian in Pakistan, going past Polly Umrigar’s six for 74.

The record stood till 1982-83 before Kapil Dev picked up seven for 220 at Faisalabad (and bettered it with eight for 85 at Lahore in the same season).

4) The man for the finals

Ramchand was a crucial cog for the Bombay Ranji Trophy side in their halcyon days from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, having a penchant for big scores in the finals. He remains the only batsman to score hundreds in four consecutive Ranji Trophy finals.

Season Venue Winner Runners-up Ramchand’s scores Margin  
Innings 1 Innings 2
1959-60 Brabourne Bombay Mysore 106 innings and 22 runs
1960-61 Udaipur Bombay Rajasthan 118 DNB 7 wickets
1961-62 Eden Gardens Bombay Bengal 107 innings and 31 runs
1962-63 Jaipur Bombay Rajasthan 102* innings and 19 runs

5) The nephew

Not much of a trivia, but Ramchand is one of the few Sindhis to have played Tests for India (the first being the wonderfully named Naoomal Jeoomal; Gogumal Kishenchand and Pananmal Punjabi are two others). Ramchand’s nephew Alan Sippy was a swashbuckling left-handed batsman who averaged 49.38 in First-Class cricket and 55.80, but stiff competition in Bombay cricket kept him out: he played only 27 First-Class matches in seven years.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

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