Home > Features > Moments in history >

Pochiah Krishnamurthy: India’s gloveman from the West Indies tour of 1971

Pochaiah-krishna-Murthy
Pochiah Krishnamurthy

 Born July 9, 1947, Pochiah Krishnamurthy was the Hyderabad mainstay behind the stumps throughout the 1970s. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the man whose contribution in India’s maiden series win in West Indies has been long forgotten.

 

At 5’8”, Pallemoni Krishnamurthy (usually referred to as Pochiah after his father Pallemoni Pochiah) after his was taller that most Indian wicket-keepers, but that did not curb his agility against spinners on the bouncing turners India produced in the “golden era of spin”.

Bold enough to stand up to the stumps (Wisden mentioned that he actually “enjoyed” doing so) against the quick bowlers (which, of course, was not a common phenomenon in India in the 1970s), Krishnamurthy was more tidy and efficient than elegant and flamboyant.

Unfortunately, his career coincided with those of Farokh Engineer and Syed Kirmani, which meant that competition was always going to be stiff. He was not as belligerent with the bat as Engineer, and neither did could he hone his skills by getting to keep wickets to spin giants like EAS Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar at domestic level.

Though Krishnamurthy was used judiciously up and down the order (he batted at every position in First-Class cricket) his return from 108 matches was 1,558 runs at a paltry 14.98 with eight fifties. He also effected 218 victims, of which a staggering 68 were stumpings, which gives a fair idea of the kind of pitches he had played on. His 39 stumpings still remain a record for Hyderabad, while his 116 dismissals come next to only Ibrahim Khaleel and Youraj Singh.

His batting was no better in the five Tests on that historic tour of West Indies in 1971 — which turned out to be his entire Test career. His numbers read 33 runs at 5.50, though he finished with seven catches and a stumping.

Early days

Krishnamurthy was born in Hyderabad to a family that ran a dairy business. He broke into First-Class cricket at 19, playing for Indian Starlets against State Bank of India, impressing with his neat glovework to Salim Durani. He toured Ceylon with Hyderabad Blues, and made his Ranji Trophy debut in a star-studded Hyderabad line-up against Madras. It turned out to be a no-contest, as Srinivas Venkataraghavan and VV Kumar ran through the tourists in each innings on a spinning wicket.

His first fifty (51) came that season against Andhra at home, and opening batting with Kenia Jayantilal in the Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup quarterfinal of 1968-69, he scored 49 and helped add 90. His career-best of 82 came next season for State Bank of India in the semifinal of the same tournament.

Krishnamurthy’s best season came in 1970-71, when he scored 283 runs at 28.30 with three fifties, in addition to 11 catches and seven stumpings. With Engineer pulling out of the 1971 tour of West Indies, Krishnamurthy was chosen as one of the two uncapped wicket-keepers, the other being Rusi Jeejeebhoy.

Hyderabad-boys-in-the-1971-team-to-WI...-Jayantilal,-Abid-Ali,-Abbas-Ali-Baig,-Krishnamurthy-and-Govindraj.-Missing---ML-Jaisimha1
Hyderabadi players from the 1971 tour of West Indies : (from Left to Right) Jayantilal, Abid Ali, Abbas Ali Baig, Pochaiah Krishnamurthy and ML Jaisimha

Test cricket

Krishnamurthy played the match against Jamaica before the first Test at the ground. He did a sound job behind the stumps against Bishan Bedi, Durani, and Prasanna, and scored 19, helping Venkat add a crucial 40 that saved the match for India. He won the Test cap as a result.

With spinners dominating the proceedings throughout the series for India, Krishnamurthy did not have a lot of dismissals to show against his name. His victims, however, made an ensemble cast — consisting of Rohan Kanhai (twice), Garry Sobers, Clive Lloyd, and Roy Fredericks.

His only innings of any significance came in the first innings of the final Test at Queen’s Park Oval: walking out at 296 for seven Krishnamurthy scored 20 — his Test best — and helped India reach 360 in the company of Venkat and Prasanna. His other five innings yielded a combined total of 13. However, thanks to a decent domestic season and his crucial role behind the stumps in the historic series, he was named an Indian Cricket Cricketer of the Year.

Striving for a spot

With Engineer back for the England tour, Krishnamurthy had to relinquish the Test spot. His outings were restricted to giving Engineer the much-needed rest by taking up the big gloves in the tour matches. Thereafter he returned to domestic cricket, but was on the sidelines for a major part of the 1970s.

He achieved a rare feat in the Ranji Trophy encounter against Karnataka in 1973-74. Batting at 11, he scored 28 and helped Abid Ali put up 105 for the last wicket. With several hundred-run stands as an opener, he became one of the limited few to be involved in hundred-run partnerships both as an opener and as a number 11.

He was selected for the twin tours of New Zealand and West Indies in 1975-76, but could not break through despite a not-too-good performance from Kirmani. However, after India lost the first ODI at Lancaster Park in the two-match series, Kirmani was left out to make way for Krishnamurthy.

The 35-over (46.4 six-ball overs) match was a no-contest: New Zealand scored 236 for eight before rolling over India for 156. Krishnamurthy scored six (and did the unthinkable by being dominated by Chandra in a partnership), but had managed to stump Glenn Turner off Venkat and catch Richard Hadlee off Chandra. He never played another international match.

Final days

Krishnamurthy played on till 1978-79. He led Hyderabad Cricket Association XI in the Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup Tournament of 1976-77. He eventually retired from all competitive cricket after the likes of Bharath Reddy, Surinder Khanna, Daljit Singh, Zulfiqar Parkar, and Sambaran Banerjee appeared on the scenario.

Krishnamurthy continued to work for State Bank of India and served as the Chairman and as a selector of Hyderabad Cricket Association. He passed away on January 28, 1999. He was only 51.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

Amla feels Proteas more acclimatised to conditions

Live Cricket Score Duleep Trophy Central Zone vs North Zone, semi-final at Mohali Day 4: Mahesh Rawat’s ton puts match beyond North’s reach

Live Cricket Score Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test, Day 4: Pakistan declare with lead of 437

Live Cricket Score Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe, 1st Test Day 1 at Mirpur: Bangladesh grab upper hand at Stumps

World Cup 1992, England vs Pakistan: Three hours of rain changes course of tournament

David Warner’s transformation into a dependable and effervescent batsman

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Dwayne Bravo says West Indies pull-out had everybody’s consent

Younis Khan scores 26th ton to establish Pakistan record

Younis Khan becomes seventh Pakistani cricketer to score two hundreds in a Test

Bangladesh gain upper-hand over Zimbabwe at stumps on Day 1 of 1st Test

Ahmed Shehzad’s ton gives Pakistan 382-run lead over Australia at tea on Day 4

Younis Khan scores 26th ton to establish Pakistan record

Younis Khan becomes seventh Pakistani cricketer to score two hundreds in a Test

Virat Kohli and others with 20 ODI hundreds

David Warner and others with records related to hundreds in consecutive Test innings

Strangers, Brothers and Cricket— the English novelist CP Snow’s lasting passion for the game

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

Dear IAF, every smartphone not just Xiaomi could be a security threat

Nitish Kumar to hold ‘Sampark Yatra’ across Bihar from Nov 13

Dhanush’s Vellai Illa Pattadhaari completes 100 days!

Shahid Kapoor’s Haider screened at Rome Film Festival!

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

Apple to merge Beats Music with iTunes next year as music sales fall 14 percent in 2014: WSJ

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

To escape Islamic State jihadis, Yazidis hide on Mount Sinjar

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here