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Blast from past: Contractor and Pakistan series
« on: January 21, 2006, 03:42:45 PM »

More than anything, I'd like to point out that the Simon and Garfunkle song he quotes was quoted by cricinfo just a month ago. Plagiarist.

from dnaindia
If you lose to Pakistan, I will kill you: A fan to Contractor

Ashish Magotra
Friday, January 20, 2006  22:40 IST

In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade; And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him

- Simon and Garfunkel, The Boxer

These are the words that came to mind as one saw Nari Contractor point to a scar, right between his eyes.

“This is a permanent reminder of that series I played against Pakistan in 1960-61. I was also captaining India for the first time. But everytime I look into the mirror, this is what I see,” said Contractor, who averaged 53.16 in the five Tests he played against the arch-rivals. It wasn’t easy to get Contractor to share his experiences.

“What do I say about that time? Pakistan had great players like Fazal Mahmood, Mushtaq Mohammad and of course, Hanif Mohammad. But people only believe what they see,” he said.

The fact that Contractor was named skipper for the series was itself a surprise. In the lead-up to the series, India had seen captaincy become a game. The series against West Indies in 1958-59 had India being skippered by four different players in five Tests. The next series against Australia saw another change in captaincy.

“I was the youngest player to captain India then. Once Polly (Umrigar) had refused to take on the job, it was wide open, anyone could have got it. It was a lot of responsibility and I enjoyed it,” he said.

He enjoyed it all right and the players had some fun with Contractor as skipper too. One incident came to the 71-year-old’s mind instantly.

“I was trying to be clever and say things in a language that the Pakistanis would not understand. So I could not use English or Hindi. When I wanted to Chandu Borde to field a little closer to the batsmen, I decided to use Marathi: ‘Arrey chandu, maghe ye re’,” said Contractor.

“Surprisingly when he heard me say that, he moved into a deeper position. For the next two balls, I repeated my words and he responded by moving deeper. At the end of the over, I went over to Chandu and asked him why he didn’t listen to me. That’s when Chandu said that maghe means to go back, If you wanted me to get closer you should have said pudhe ye,” he added with a smile etched across his face.

Among the Pakistani players, Hanif and Mushtaq have earned legendary status over the years while Fazal’s genius is known to all as well. “Fazal was a great bowler. What can you say about him that his statistics (134 wickets at 24.70) don’t already reveal? On a matting wicket, he was virtually unplayable. If the wicket was bad, he knew how to exploit the conditions very well.”

The 1960-61 series resulted in five draws on the Indian pitches, as had the previous rubber between them, played on the mat in Pakistan. The feeling among most people is that the teams were specifically told that defeat was not acceptable.

“That really isn’t the case. You must understand the conditions that we played in. When we played, teams had to bowl only 75 overs in a day. Add to that the fact that there was no bouncer rule. So any batsman could expect at least three bouncers in an over. So the batsmen were facing around 40 overs in a day. Can you get a result in such conditions?” asked Contractor.

A lot of the passion attributed to the matches in the 70s and 80s was due to the tension between the two countries. So what was it like to play an India-Pakistan match in the 50s? “I remember just before the first Test, I got a fan mail. It went something like this, ‘Congratulations on becoming skipper and blah, blah, blah.’ Then in the end, it was written: ‘Let’s hope you win the series against Pakistan. If you cannot win, let’s hope you draw. But if you lose, I will kill you’.”
« Last Edit: March 06, 2006, 04:53:49 PM by kban1 »
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