Alur diaries: Farhaan Behardien to Unibic cookies

Covering India A’s second Test against South Africa A at the Platinum Oval in Alur, around 25 kms from Bengaluru, here are a few sights and sounds that caught our attention.

The ride to Platinum Oval through Huskur Road in Alur.

The primary thought that tickles the mind while touring for a Test match is the location. And if it is an uncharted territory, the adventure widens.

Now that the first two fixtures of the Quadrangular Series have been called off in Andhra due to rains, let’s relive the sights and sounds from the final four-day Test between India A and South Africa A that got over in Alur this week.

Dravid, retired da?

Around 8:30 am, the lady who sells fruits on the edge of the Bengaluru-Pune highway was taken aback as she saw two luxury buses, one carrying a group of foreigners, enter Huskur Road — a narrow stretch that leads to the grounds — Platinum Oval, Golden Oval and Silver Oval. By 12 noon, word had spread that Rahul Dravid was around. Some people thought he had come for an exhibition match. “Retired, da? When did he?” asked C. Vishnu, who bunked college to catch Dravid in action.

He had no idea that the former India cricketer is now the coach of India A and the U-19 team. Dravid walked around freely. No mob, no frenzy. “He is our local boy, we have seen him as a kid,” said Mahesh Senapathy, an avid cricket lover who sat under the trees, right behind the deep mid-wicket area.

Behardien in the house

While India A batted for a draw on Day 4, another bus entered the stadium corridor. With swanky headphones and sunglasses, walked out Farhaan Behardien.

Farhaan Behardien (second from left) enters the Golden Oval in Alur.

 

In limited-overs cricket, he has worn the South Africa jersey 96 times — 59 ODIs and 37 T20Is — but perhaps, he is still not popular enough to be recognised. He stood outside the second ground, where the Karnataka State Cricket Association Invitational game between Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat had just ended. The South Africa A ODI squad looked set for a net session but the players were clueless when to start.

“Are we going to practice here?” Behardien asked one of the local groundsmen, but the only language the man knew was Kannada. He looked at Behardien in bewilderment and walked away. Stunned with the silence, Behardien circled his fingers around his head to imply that the man is mental. “I had a long flight from South Africa [and not Sri Lanka],” he cleared another confusion before heading to the nets.

South Africa A team gets itself ready for a practice session.

Thank you, India!

South Africa A manager Jeremy Fredericks, also a broadcaster back home, thanked India for being a good host. “You always dream to go to cricketing countries. My involvement with cricket spans a long time. In broadcasting, I have worked with Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri. I even did commentary with Rahul Dravid in one of India’s South Africa tour,” he said. 

Fredericks remembers the late BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya for his initiative to host the new South Africa, after apartheid, in 1991. “I have the highest regards for him. He was an absolute gentleman. You guys supported South Africa back into international cricket. We played a three-match series and I remember Clive Rice meeting Mother Teresa in Kolkata. I love India and the cricketers here.

“I told Rahul [Dravid] the other day what would you call your current captain when he retires. Gavaskar was the Master, Sachin Tendulkar – the Little Master and Kohli, maybe Grand Master,” (laughs).

Like everything in India ends on a 'sweet' note, the KSCA officials were generous enough to take the handful of journalists to the Unibic factory, a few yards from the stadium.  Cookies galore! That’s how you end a tour.

Photos by Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya

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