Home > Features > Moments in history >

Indrajitsinhji: A blue-blooded cricketer who was born at the wrong time

image_20130615081828

KS Indrajitsinhji… followed in the steps of his great-uncle Ranji and uncle Duleep into the Test arena. Photo courtesy: Indrajisinhji family

KS Indrajitsinhji, born June 15, 1937, was a long-serving wicket-keeper batsman in domestic cricket who played four Test matches for India.  A nephew of the great Duleepsinhji, Indrajitsinhji and Chandu Borde combined in a memorable ninth wicket partnership in the 1964-65 Bombay Test against Australia to clinch one of the most memorable match victories in the history of Indian cricket. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the career of the blue-blooded cricketer.

Jamnagar of the present day, formerly known as Nawanagar, houses the world’s biggest oil refinery — belonging to Reliance Industries. However, historically, the city was the seat of the Jadejas. It had been substantially renovated by Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji during the 1920s. Saying adieu to cricket, the Jamsahib, the erstwhile oriental magician with the willow, had turned his attention to his state and building Jamnagar had been one of his major initiatives.

Four years after Ranji’s death in 1933, and five years after his brilliant nephew KS Dupleepsinhji had to give up cricket to preserve his health, a new scion of the family saw the light of the day in this very city.

From his lineage and family tree, Kumar Shri Madhavsinhji Jadeja Indrajitsinhji was perhaps expected to set the cricket grounds on fire with deeds to match the length and expanse of his name. In the end, his number of Test matches ended one short of the number of initials of his name.

Yet he did have his moments and his career did leave some interesting marks.

Having chosen keeping wickets as his day job, he was disadvantaged by time. He was born in the same era as Budhi Kunderan and Farokh Engineer. Impressive behind the stumps and dependable in front, Indrajitsinhji was not quite of the same standard as his illustrious contemporaries. He kept with a lot of distinction for Saurashtra and Delhi, and sometimes made it to the Zonal level, playing tournaments named after great-uncle Ranji and uncle Duleep respectively. Yet, for most of his career the Test arena remained out of bounds.

On Indian tracks he excelled, especially when keeping to spinners. He kept ably to the likes of Subhash Gupte and Bapu Nadkarni. With the bat he was considered good enough to open the innings on occasions. Unfortunately, so were the other two gentlemen — with distinctly more skill.

Opportunity came his way finally in 1964-65 when Bobby Simpson’s men visited India. Both the frontline ’keepers were dropped from the team for reasons unclear. Indrajitsinhji pouched behind the wicket for the first time after 10 years spent in the domestic circuit. With Bill Lawry and Bobby Simpson’s celebrated collaboration at the top, no snicks came his way for long. However, after almost an hour’s play Simpson went forward to Salim Durani, was beaten by the turn, and the bails were whipped off by alert hands. Indrajitsinhji had finally registered on the international scoreboard. He went on to take three catches in the match as well.

He opened the innings on his Test debut — sent in with ML Jaisimha more as a stop-gap arrangement than with confidence and vision. The results were dismal. Neil Hawke got him to snick to the wicketkeeper for four in the first innings and got past his defence to hit the stumps for a duck in the second. Hanumant Singh, Indrajit’s cousin, fought hard with 94, but Australia won by 139 runs.

The second Test at Brabourne Stadium, Bombay, was the highlight of his career. He did a decent job behind the wickets, and stumped Brian Booth at an important juncture in the second innings. Having been relegated to lowly No 10 from the elevated status of an opening batsman, he put his head down to make a sensible 23. It was in the second innings that he became part of history. Chasing 254 to win, India slumped to 122 for six, before being revived by a 93-run partnership between captain Nawab of Pataudi Junior and Vijay Manjrekar. When both were dismissed within a space of nine runs, Indrajitsinhji walked in at 224 for eight, still 30 runs away from victory. He batted for 41 nerve-racking minutes, scoring just three, but in the process helped Chandu Borde put on 32 to clinch a narrow victory. It was quite an achievement against Graham McKenzie, Alan Connolly and Tom Veivers. As the victorious duo made their way back to the pavilion, Borde’s bat was snatched away by an enthusiastic fan.

Indrajitsinhji did precious little in the third Test in Calcutta, aside from stumping McKenzie off Rusi Surti and being stumped by Barry Jarman himself. His performances were not enough to cement his place in the side, and after the series both Engineer and Kunderan were back.

It was an injury to Engineer which gave him another opportunity in 1969-70, when Graham Dowling’s New Zealanders were in India. In the third Test at Hyderabad, Indrajitsinhji kept to Bishan Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan. His contribution was limited to one catch, and dismal scores of seven and 12 as the opener. The match was marred by ugly riots, which held up the proceedings for a considerable while. With India looking down the barrel of the gun in the second innings, the score reading 76 for seven, the match was saved by a heavy splash of rain followed by some deliberately tardy efforts at mopping up the water from the ground. Indrajitsinhji, who had let through a few byes in the second innings, never played for India again.

The 51 runs, three stumpings and six catches were all that he accomplished in the four Tests. However, he continued to play First-Class cricket for three more seasons, and appeared in as many as 90 matches. While 3694 runs at 26.76 with five hundreds mark him out as a useful batsman, the incredible feature in his career was the ratio between catches and stumpings. He held 133 catches and effected 80 stumpings during in First-Class cricket, a remarkably high proportion of stumpings – one of the highest —in the post Second World War era.

Indrajitsinhji remained in touch with the game by helping several Saurashtra players emerge as stars of Bombay. One such cricketer who went on to serve India with distinction was Karsan Ghavri. Renowned for an astute cricketing brain, he was also reputed to have a finely developed sense of the history of the game.

Indrajitsinhji passed away in 2011 after a battle with cancer.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan’s double ton puts Pakistan on top against Australia at stumps on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

India vs Sri Lanka 1st ODI at Cuttack, Preview: Teams aim for winning start

WICB officials should visit India to minimize damage: Andy Roberts

Younis Khan: I want to be remembered as team-man

ICC World Cup 2015: New Zealand prime minister urges Indian fans to attend the tournament

Mohammad Yousuf: Muttiah Muralitharan would not have been allowed to bowl under current ICC rules

Don Bradman dismissed twice on the same day

Virat Kohli’s captaincy opportunities important in context of India’s succession plans

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here