One of Bollywood’s famous villians, who played the role of Gabbar Singh, Amjad Khan’s namesake is the only cricketer to be born in Denmark and played one Test for England © Getty Images
With the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 having taken off and high-profile cricket having resumed at Sharjah, cricketers and Bollywood stars will rub shoulders yet again. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at an XI who had namesakes in Bollywood.
Cricket in Sharjah and Indian Premier League (IPL) have both been synonymous to Bollywood superstars who have often graced the venues with their august presences. What about the men playing the match, then? Cricketers have gone on to pursue careers on celluloid, but this article is not about them: this is about the rarely talked about cricketers who have found namesakes in the world of glitz and glamour.
1. Shahrukh Khan
Shahrukh Khan, still a teenager, has already played List A and Twenty20 (T20) cricket for Tamil Nadu after going through the Under-16s, Under-19s, and Under-22s. A player with questionable abilities, Shahrukh has never batted in his four List A matches, and has sent down a single over with his (possibly) innocuous off-breaks. Hardly the King Khan we know.
2. Salman Khan
There have been quite a few Salman Khans in cricket, but only one of them has played First-Class cricket: the Oxford University fast bowler had played 17 matches with a batting average of 19.00 (he scored one fifty) and finished with a haul of 21 wickets at 70.71. It is for the reader to decide his worth. Among other news, it is generally believed that he played cricket with his shirt on.
3. Kunal Kapoor
The 26-year old Karnataka batsman hit the winning runs in this year’s Vijay Hazare Trophy final. Though it is his debut series in List A cricket, he has played ten First-Class matches and has scored two hundreds. Perhaps a tad better than his Bollywood counterpart, Kapoor will probably find a place in the Karnataka squad next season.
4. Raj Kapoor
Raj Kapoor had played a solitary List A match for Delhi against Haryana, but it was good enough for us to include him in our XI. He scored a mere nine, but brought on first-change after captain Manoj Prabhakar and Shakti Singh, Raj Kapoor had sent down five overs for 19. Not really the showman you had expected.
5. Dilip Kumar
If Raj Kapoor made it, could Dilip Kumar be far away? Seven years back, Dilip Kumar had opened the bowling in each innings for Sri Lanka Army (ahead of Ajantha Mendis and Seekuge Prasanna) against Police Sports Club in his only First-Class match. He managed to whisk out Saman Wijeratne, the opposition captain.
It can be argued whether Rajinikanth can be considered a Bollywood actor, but a cricketer sharing the name is too tempting to miss out on. Rajinikanth, a left-arm medium-fast bowler from Singaraddiyur, had played two matches for a Tamil Nadu XI five years back against a formidable New Zealand A. Mind it.
7. Rajendra Kumar
The Southern Punjab cricketer Rajendra Kumar had managed a pair in his only First-Class match; neither did he manage to score a run. Little else is known of him, and especially less of whether he had put his tear glands to extensive use.
8. Pankaj Kapoor
Leg-spinner Pankaj Kapoor’s rather small List A career was rather singular: in the only match he played (for Himachal Pradesh against Services) he did not bowl and batted at eleven. It would probably take a Karamchand to solve the mystery of his rather baffling inclusion.
9. Amjad Khan
The only Test cricketer born in Denmark, Amjad Khan had won a solitary Test cap for England against West Indies at Queen’s Park Oval, trapping Ramnaresh Sarwan leg-before. He also played a T20I. The police, as far as this columnist’s knowledge goes, have not announced a Rs 50,000 reward on him.
10. Yashpal Sharma
Had the cricketer Yashpal Sharma not been the part of a World Cup winning squad, there was not much to choose from the stature of the two. The actor has carved out a niche of his own, pulling off some excellent performances on both side of the law in an illustrious career.
11. Imran Khan
And finally, the captain of the team: Aamir Khan’s nephew (his uncle’s shadow will never cease to chase the poor guy) is an in-and-out Bollywood face, but his namesake on the ground, one of the greatest names in the history of the sport, needs no introduction.
(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)