Six decades is a long, long time. But as Chandu Borde starts speaking about his old colleague and dear friend Salim Durani, who passed away on Sunday morning, the octogenarian travels down memory lane.
He remembers those January mornings of 1962, when Durani’s five-wicket haul and Borde’s four-for in the first innings paved the way for India’s iconic 187-run win against Ted Dexter’s England at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
And as the Durani-Borde pair made the Englishmen dance to their tunes in that Test - fourth of the five-match series - it also set the tone for the home team’s series win against the superpowers of world cricket.
A debonair figure: Salim Durani, who made his India debut in 1960, was the first cricketer to receive the Arjuna Award.
Durani was a tall man, who could get the ball to lift and turn on any surface with a bit of help.
The Indian cricket team selected to tour West Indies (1962): Durani (sitting, first from left) scored 1202 international runs with the highest score of 104 against the Windies on this tour.
England cricket player K.F. Barrington from Surrey bowled by Durani on the second day of the fourth Test match between India and England. Durani scalped eight and ten wickets in the Kolkata and Chennai Tests to guide the host to a 2-0 series victory.
A group photograph of the Rajasthan team, runner-up of the Ranji Trophy cricket match in Bombay in 1964. Sitting (L to R) Sundaram, Hanmant Singh, Vijay Manjrekar, Raj Singh (captain) Kishan Rungta, Durani, Surya Veer Singh. Standing (L to R) C.G. Joshi, Chand Mull, Kher Mohamed, Gatani, Trivedi, Rajendra Rungta.
England’s J.D.F. Larter is snapped up brilliantly at short-leg by Chandu Borde off Durani on the third day of the second Test match at Brabourne Stadium on January 23, 1964. The match ended in a draw.
Durani loses balance as he attempts to sweep E. Prasanna during the quarterfinal of the Duleep Trophy between Central Zone and South Zone at Hyderabad on December 27, 1970. Durani scored 52 runs.
Photo shows (left to right) M.L. Jaisimha, BS Chandrashekar, Durani, Gopal Bose and Vishwanath during the Moin Ud Dowla Gold Cup Trophy at Lal Bahadur Stadium, Hyderabad on September 28, 1976.
Former BCCI president Shashank Manohar (L) presents the Lifetime Achievement Award to Durani during the BCCI Awards 2009-2010.
“They would call us the spin twins,” Borde says.
And they earned that moniker for a reason. India did not have a perfect build-up to the Test match as Subhash Gupte and Kripal Singh were suspended in dramatic circumstances, but when the team took the field under the leadership of Nari Contractor, the onus was on the Borde-Durani duo.
After contributing significantly with the bat - Borde scored 68 in the first innings, while Durani chipped in with 43 - and guiding India to 380, the duo claimed nine wickets among themselves as the England batters struggled.
While India rung in the New Year in style, with a convincing victory, what followed thereafter spoke volumes about Durani’s ever-rising popularity. “Salim was a handsome cricketer and very easy going. He had a huge following. Back in those days, we did not have luxurious accommodation, and Salim and I were room-mates on most occasions. And wherever he went, his followers would come over to our room and there were times when I had to tell him that, “ Yaar Salim kya kar rahe ho? Let me at least rest…,” Borde reminisces.
And every time his ‘Chandu Bhaiya’ would admonish him, Durani would make up for it with a fascinating show on the field. “We were all-rounders. We performed well with the bat and ball. You could get along with him easily and even when he performed well, he was pretty chill about it. He was very easy going.
The crowd wanted him to hit six and he would try to oblige it. That’s why he was popular, and we shared a very good relationship…”
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Off the field, Durani shared a great rapport with ML Jaisimha, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Abbas Ali Baig, and Borde. “Our team spirit was very good. We were good friends on and off the field and we always tried to help each other and appreciated each other’s performance…”
Back in those days, cricketers weren’t paid handsomely, lucrative endorsements were unheard of, but it’s the passion for the game and the camaraderie that kept the players going. “On the field, directly or indirectly, Salim and I would help each other - be it with batting or bowling. Throughout our stay at the crease, we ensured that we had great conversations,” Borde says. “Even in challenging times, we never showed any signs of tension. And we had a perfect relationship - both on and off the field - and that helped…”
“Salim made batting look easy and never looked under pressure whatsoever. He never thought about who the bowler was, he knew that his job was to go hammer and tongs and he did it in style,” Borde says, adding: “He was a very elegant player and a wonderful soul, who loved the game…” And, also life!
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