Mohinder Amarnath Biography
He was often the best of batsmen, and could as easily and as frequently be one of the worst. His broad blade could gallantly carry the hopes of the nation against the most formidable foes, and it could also be the harbinger of inexplicable failures and despair. Mohinder Amarnath ebbed and flowed through 19 long years of international cricket, tracing a peculiar fluctuating path.
He played 69 Test matches — and missed 64. He scored 11 hundreds and never went beyond 138. One almost lost count of the number of times he got hit, frequently on the head and with near fatal consequences. Yet, down the line he was hailed, based on one series, as the best player of fast bowling.
He fearlessly hooked the fastest West Indian bowlers in their backyard, scoring nearly 600 runs in five Caribbean Tests at 66.44. During that phase, Sunil Gavaskar even proclaimed him as the best batsman of the world. And within a year he came back to India to score one solitary run against the same set of bowlers in six innings, averaging 0.17. He rose like again like a phoenix, as he had done throughout his career, almost recapturing his full glory. And yet again, in his final series in 1987-88, against the same old West Indian foes, he was little more than an abject embarrassment to himself and his fans.
Unlike his father Lala and elder brother Surinder, Mohinder did not score a hundred on Test debut. He managed ten more than them. He also sent down his innocuous medium-pacers, often opening bowling in the land of spinners, specialising in holding one end up as the strike bowlers operated from the other.
Amarnath is almost synonymous in Indian cricket with guts and grit, spirit and spunk. He is also the face that appears with Kapil Dev, holding aloft the Prudential Cup — the tournament that changed Indian cricket forever. And he played a pivotal part in that triumph, with Man of the Match awards in both the semi-final and the final.
In those days, when television had just started to beam live pictures of Test matches in Pakistan and the World Cup in England, Amarnath captured the imagination of the country when he frequently ended up as the last man standing. The nation watched spellbound as he held firm in Pakistan against a rampaging Imran Khan. They revelled and rejoiced as he carried India to the epochal victory in the World Cup final. In between filtered in the news of his heroic exploits on the fiery wickets of West Indies against four fearsome bowlers. It was rumoured that he got hit, washed blood from his shirt and resumed his innings. Some said he hit the first ball that he faced after resumption for six. The legend grew.
However, the Amarnath Indians saw at home after that was often infuriatingly unsuccessful — often mystifyingly so. He never quite carried the glamour of 1982-83 to the later days — and by then the focus of the nation had once again shifted to the saga of Gavaskar and Kapil Dev.
Finally he left the scene after calling the selectors — with some justification — a bunch of jokers.
He joined the same bunch in 2011, and was removed in controversial circumstances the following year.