Ranji Trophy: Remembering Hyderabad's glorious moment

Thirty-three years ago, Hyderabad won the Ranji Trophy for the second time; M. V. Narasimha Rao takes a trip down memory lane.

A hero's welcome: Arshad Ayub is chaired by admirers at the Secunderabad Railway Station on March 29, 1987. - THE HINDU ARCHIVES

They played the game when the match fee for a player was just ₹350. They had no professional support staff or high-tech gadgets in place. Yet, Hyderabad, led by M. V. Narasimha Rao, shocked fancied Delhi 33 years ago to win the Ranji Trophy by virtue of the first-innings lead.

For the record, Hyderabad scored 457 in the first innings and in reply, Delhi finished on 433. In the second essay, Hyderabad scored 480 for seven, with the match ending in a draw in New Delhi.

And, Bobjee - as Rao is more popularly called, now settled in Northern Ireland - recalls the memorable journey to that final (March 21-26, 1987) in a chat with Sportstar on Wednesday. “The credit goes to each and every member of the team. I have never seen in my 16-year stint with the State team such passion, camaraderie and commitment from the players,” started off the former India player who donned the role of coach, mentor and trainer, too, to enable Hyderabad to win the trophy only for the second time.

Turning point

Bobjee felt the turning point of the campaign was the league game against Goa which Hyderabad had to win to qualify. He recalled how former India off-spinner Arshad Ayub picked the last wicket in the dying moments of the contest at Gymkhana Ground here. “I must say every member of that team was a captain’s delight, responding to the team’s cause in style under pressure,” he said.

The victorious Hyderabad squad with the Ranji Trophy. - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

“Frankly, in the final, we had the belief that we can do it. And, thanks to Abdul Azeem (114 and 43), Arshad Ayub (174 and 80) and Vijay Mohan Raj (11 and 211 n.o.) [for their] batting on a green-top and Rajesh Yadav (5 for 114 in first innings) and Shivlal Yadav (3 for 74) in bowling, we pulled off a great win,” said the unsung hero of Hyderabad cricket.

Decisive moment

“The decisive moment in the final was Arshad Ayub’s smart catch to send back the well-set Mohinder Amarnath (85) off Rajesh Yadav as that helped us clinch the lead and the issue even as K. P. Bhaskar held one end up (160 n.o.),” he felt.

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“It was an emotional homecoming at Secunderabad Railway Station and great to see such a big crowd,” signed off a nostalgic Bobjee.

All that the members of the Ranji Trophy winning team got then was ₹5,000 each from the then Chief Minister N. T. Rama Rao.

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