A tourney of rainy-day blues and Irani teas

The Moin Ud Dowla trophy, played during the monsoon season, is known for its frequent wash-outs and endless hours of time spent in the dressing room.

Arshad Ayub... “We'd play cards waiting for the skies to clear.”   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

Come the Moin Ud Dowla trophy and can the rains be far behind? No cricket tournament in the world falls prey to this cat and mouse game with the elements as often as this annual event. Nature has 'showered' its blessings to such an extent that players and public fondly call it 'Rain Ud Dowla.'

The biggest names in Indian cricket have plied their trade here, especially in the nascent stages of their careers or when out in the cold. Rendered helpless against heaven's artillery, many whiled away the rain-affected hours with endless cups of Irani tea and distinctly Hyderabadi Osmania biscuits.

“There were more matches washed out than played,” quipped Akash Chopra. “The rainy days served as a great bonding exercise outside the game,” said the former Indian opener of the camaraderie that knit teams and players together. “In our days, they were three-day games and held at Fateh Maidan (also known as L. B. Stadium). When cloud bursts cut short play, we'd troop into the rooms of Roger Binny and Kapil Dev, who were put up in the Fateh Maidan Club's (FMC) second-floor guest rooms,” recalled Arshad Ayub.

‘Lavish’

“Vazir Sultan Tobacco (VST), the team I played for, was lavish with hospitality, which was on the house. We'd feast on the fine fare coming out of FMC's kitchen. We'd play cards waiting for the skies to clear,” the former Indian off-spinner added.

“Being a fore-runner to the Ranji season, many were keen to make a mark,” said Y. Venugopal Rao. “When it rained, there were pranks and practical jokes or foot volley that was a lot of fun. Now there are Instagram updates every 10 minutes,” he said of how the times and trends have changed in the dressing room.

Frantic run-making

Former Hyderabad Cricket Association president's XI captain T. Suman cannot forget the 2013 season's two-day quarterfinal at the Vijay Anand ground. After the first day's play, it rained cats and dogs with prospects of a regular start on the second bleak. “Our team had to chase MP's 300 if we were to make the last four stage,” remembered Suman.

“Our coach N. S. Ganesh and the entire 15-member team began mopping operations, sponges and plastic buckets in hand. Believe it or not, we overhauled the rival total in the 50 overs possible after lunch,” said Suman.

“For the bowlers, the rains brought welcome rest. As a teenager I was overawed by the seniors. I chose to watch what routines they adopted, trying to learn anything I could by following their ways,” said Pragyan Ojha.