Kapil: 'Mumbai’s contribution to Indian cricket can't be matched'

Kapil Dev and Mohinder Amarnath have some fond memories of their contests against Mumbai and Mumbai cricketers. “It was a name dreaded and respected in Indian cricket,” said Amarnath, who shifted from Delhi to Mumbai before settling down in serene Goa.

Both Kapil Dev and Mohinder Amarnath have fond memories of their contests against Mumbai.   -  AFP

Kapil Dev and Mohinder Amarnath have some fond memories of their contests against Mumbai and Mumbai cricketers. “It was a name dreaded and respected in Indian cricket,” said Amarnath, who shifted from Delhi to Mumbai before settling down in serene Goa.

For Kapil Dev, a match against Mumbai was “a battle worth looking forward to. You lost some and won some but enjoyed each and every of those games.”

Haryana’s 1991 win over Mumbai in the Ranji final remains one of Kapil’s favourite moments on the cricket field.

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“It is to Mumbai’s credit that India has come to do so well in world cricket. The Mumbai player still plays correct cricket and I have always admired the way they construct their innings. I am sure they would adapt and Mumbai would give India would have some of the biggest hitters of the ball. Mumbai's contribution to Indian cricket can't be matched,” added India's first World Cup-winning captain.

In Amarnath’s opinion, “Mumbai was the acknowledged centre of cricket. Before partition too they had so many tournaments. I remember even for a school match there would be a huge crowd. Mumbai cricket had a superb infrastructure and system in place and that is why they dominated Indian cricket for so long. It was only after Bishan (Singh Bedi) came that we (in North) learnt the importance of team-work and could believe Mumbai could be beaten too.”

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As Amarnath described, “Just look at the number of international players Mumbai has produced and continues to do so. A Mumbai cricketer always had this confidence that he was better than others. Even a fringe player from Mumbai thought he was better than international players from other states. Such was the importance and pride they attached to Mumbai cricket.”

Kapil can vividly recall some of his duels with stars like Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar. “To bowl to a Mumbai batsman and do well was a huge reward. I admired the discipline that marked Mumbai cricket. Their batsmen were technically so sound that it made getting their wickets so very precious.”

It was the competitive structure of Mumbai cricket that attracted Amarnath. “I worked two years for JK and played some of my best cricket in Mumbai. There was respect for your performance because of the demanding conditions that you encountered. I found playing in Mumbai a thrilling experience.”

Looking back, Amarnath observed, “Mumbai cricketers had more skills because they were playing all the time. They were always match fit. We would excel individually but Mumbai shone collectively. “Mumbai,” emphasised Amarnath, “was a great opponent. We would always be charged-up to take on Mumbai because a good performance against counted and helped in selection to the Indian team. A Delhi-Mumbai match was like a Test. It was great fun.”

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