The old days of Hindi commentary did have some memorable moments. Arunabha Sengupta remembers one such from this day 25 years ago, when the heroics of Kapil Dev and Kiran More were described in a delightful sentence.
These days, when the Sunil Gavaskars and Geoff Boycotts air their views from the commentary box, we tend to turn a condescending, semi-indulgent eye towards the voices of the past. Those persevering men who used to describe the proceedings with fervour, often making quaint attempts to communicate untranslatable cricketing jargon in Hindi. Diligent men who understandably avoided technical details, and made endearing mistakes otherwise; who stacked up experience and vocabulary to compensate for cricketing finer points and primitive camera techniques.
Yet, some memories from those good old days stick around as the fondest– when the joy of watching the game was echoed by voices similarly excited by the action, for whom experience at the highest level had not turned magical moments into mundane.
Twenty five years ago such a moment flitted by on Doordarshan. Immortal words were heard which delighted the cockles of cricket loving hearts.
India was playing New Zealand at Bangalore during the 1987 Reliance World Cup. The start had been disastrous. Gavaskar and Krish Srikkanth had been run out, the latter while sauntering outside the crease for some unknown reason. Dilip Vengsarkar had closed the face of the bat too early to be caught and bowled by Willie Watson.
Navjot Singh Sidhu had slammed four sixes and plundered 75, but when Ewan Chatfield held on to a return catch from Manoj Prabhakar, the scoreboard read an unimpressive 170 for seven from 41.3 overs. It needed something special to get to a respectable total.
And something special was indeed provided by a fascinating partnership between skipper Kapil Dev and stumper Kiran More. Martin Snedden and Watson were flayed to all parts of the ground as 82 runs were ransacked in the last 51 deliveries.
People expected such heroics from Kapil, who raced to 71 from 58 balls. However, the diminutive Indian wicket-keeper surprised all, outscoring his captain, screaming away to a breathtaking 42 off 26 balls, pulling out strokes that no one had suspected to be in his repertoire.
Veteran Hindi commentator Ravi Chaturvedi was on air as More skipped out and lofted Watson’s medium-paced offeringinside out over cover for four. A couple of balls later he repeated the stroke with similar nonchalance and the same end result. And the television viewers across the country heard the delighted Chaturvedi summing up the collective enchantment, “Bade miyan to bade miyan, chhote miyan subhan allah!”
The essence is lost in translation, but can be approximated by, “Big brother is big brother, but little brother – Glory be!”
Perhaps for the only time in history the entire nation laughed in happy unison.
India won by 16 runs and Chaturvedi’s immortal words during that electric moment were lovingly framed in millions of memories.
(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