A trip down memory lane with the voice of Indian radio cricket commentary

Dr. Narottam Puri was immensely respected by the players, for he was always spot on even with tricky dismissals during days when the luxury of TV replays wasn't available.

Noted Cricket Commentator Dr. Narottam Puri during an interview with The Hindu in New Delhi   -  SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

He described the game as he saw it. And he saw it with the eyes of a keen student of the game, not missing out little details like a change in the field settings. He literally gave you a ring-side view. Dr. Narottam Puri’s mellifluous voice was an added attraction to follow cricket on the radio.

Dr. Puri was immensely respected by the players and also young cricket journalists who would flock to hear his stories from the past. Many, like me, would confirm a dismissal from him because Dr. Puri was always spot on. “Missing leg, hit the bat, did not nick,” were simple responses that would guide us in tricky dismissals during days when the luxury of TV replays was not available.

A reputed radio and television commentator, Dr. Puri conducted a popular quiz for Doordarshan for 18 years. He is currently involved as advisor with Fortis Healthcare and Indian Medical Academy.

Dr. Puri is not known to give interviews but he makes an exception for SPORTSTAR as he reflects on his cricket journey.

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Excerpts:

Q) Your earliest memories of cricket?

A) It’s always a pleasure interacting with you and a very happy coincidence that you called me on a day when I was just going through some of the old recordings of Don Bradman and the various greats of Australian cricket and just looking at YouTube because there's very little to do otherwise at home. Yes. I think radio commentary as you've described is not as popular today because of the availability of television. But let me just remind everyone that 1922 was the first ever radio broadcast of a cricket match. And it was for Charles Bannerman's Testimonial. That was the first time that radio was used to broadcast a cricket match. The commentator was a gentleman by the name of Lionell Watt. Five years later, the Essex vs. New Zealand game was broadcast and the commentator was former England player Plum Warner. And for some reason after that, BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) did not pursue it very actively.

Q) When did radio commentary make its debut in India?

A) 1934 is the first time that a match was broadcast in India, from Bombay Gymkhana. It was, I think, Pentangular or Quadrangular, between Muslims and Parsees and Bobby Talyarkhan was the commentator. My association with cricket commentary dates back to 1948 because my father was chosen as one of the commentators for India-West Indies series, and I believe I watched that match from my mother's lap. Obviously I have no memory of it, I was too young to remember it. But from then onwards, cricket and cricket commentary became kind of a dining room conversation for me, because my father played for India - one unofficial Test match and plenty of Ranji Trophy, Pentangulars, etc. - so cricket was in the family. My uncle (my father's younger brother) played Ranji Trophy too. And it was a kind of fodder for a young person's ear to always have cricket being discussed. And obviously, one started falling in love as one started playing it as well. And during those days, my father was still playing Ranji Trophy and he represented five states and then you got to meet a lot of cricketers who were greats of their own time because they were friends of my father and they dropped in at home and so was the case with some great commentators like Berry Sarbadhikari, Pearson Surita, and therefore, you know, my love for the sport continued to grow. The Hindu’s sports chief at that time was S. K. Gurunathan. Guru uncle, as we used to call him, was a frequent visitor to our house. And I think this love for cricket, the love for reading about it, writing about it, and describing it subconsciously entered some part of my brain and remained active.

Q) When did you get to hear commentary from close quarters?

A) When I got an opportunity to go with my dad to the All India Radio studios. Those days a lot of sports broadcasts used to take place. And they were 10 minute long. A lot of people will not know about the General Overseas Service, GOS, as it was called, it's broadcast outside India. And there were also sports broadcasts at primes slots like 9 pm. And therefore, one started learning how to control the number of words, within that time span that was available to you and to be able to express what you wanted to express within that time frame. Also the value of time, when to start, when to end. So I think these were important life lessons as well. And I guess I was lucky in being able to see this, watch this, hear this happen right in front of my eyes. And because of the fact that, I guess, I was always available in All India Radio during the sojourns that my dad made there.

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Q) How did you get your break?

A) I guess an opportunity came when they were looking for a scorer. It was a London Schoolboys team visiting India and All India Radio was doing a broadcast of that match. I was booked as a scorer. So that was my first paycheck as a schoolboy. 15 rupees per day and also a great opportunity to watch a match from where I became very accustomed to watching. That is from the commentators’ box. It sort of grew and before I realized that I had got too deeply into it. I was good enough to play up to the university level, but being a medical guy, cricket those days used to be four and five day matches and cricket and my studies couldn't go hand in hand. So these opportunities I got gave me an chance to kind of stay connected to the game, even as a doctor, but I couldn't pursue it as a player beyond the university days. Of course, club cricket remained an active space for me. So the association has been there right throughout.

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Dr. Narottam Puri's mellifluous voice was an added attraction to follow cricket on the radio   -  SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Q) What were your early lessons?

A) I think we had some really great broadcasters available. I will make a distinction between a broadcaster and a commentator. This broadcaster was usually somebody I would describe as Melville de Mello, Jasdev Singh. You know who would describe an event. But a commentator, particularly in the context of cricket, became what was rightly described by BBC as someone who did ball to ball commentary. So it wasn't storytelling. There were the odd commentators who were storytellers. But they were not ball-to-ball commentators.

Q) Any example?

A) An example that comes to mind is Vizzy. Maharajkumar of Vizianagram. I spent a long time with him in the commentators box. He used to have his personal scorer, in addition to the scorer that All India Radio provided to the other commentators. The job of that scorer was to hand over a coin in the hand of Vizzy and the hand was always kept under the table. And he will put a coin into Vizzy’s hand and Vizzy will describe first of ball of the over and then he'll go into describing past events, etc, etc. Meanwhile, as the game is going on, and suddenly you got to know from a sentence like “Meanwhile, two wickets have fallen, 15 runs have been scored.” So that was that was one style of broadcasting. But BBC defined it as ball to ball commentary because it allowed the non spectator sitting miles away, to not only get the flavour, but to get an accurate description of how each ball was bowled - each delivery was defended or the ball was stroked away, where the fielder was. Therefore, I would make this distinction between a broadcaster and ball to ball commentator.

Q) The attributes of a good radio commentator?

A) The ball-to-ball commentator needed to have at least three major attributes. One was an ability, through his words, to create a picture through the use of his words. There was no television. The second was the ability to have a command over the language because you couldn't be doing commentary and be searching for words. Therefore, you had to have that fluency of expression. And the third was a decent knowledge of the game. Because cricket is a highly technical sport. You can get away with lesser knowledge in some games as a ball-to-ball describer. In some games, you cannot do a ball-to-ball commentary. For example, table tennis. It is just too fast. And having had some experience of doing radio commentary in table tennis, I can tell you it's impossible to do a ball-to-ball. But cricket is ideally suited to have this ball-to-ball description. And I think this was one of the great things that happened as a learning that if you had these three attributes of knowledge of the game, command over the language and an ability to create a picture through your words, you could be a good commentator, or a good ball-to-ball describer. That was not necessarily true when I migrated to television because the picture was already there. Then the principles changed.

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Q) You once told me how you would smuggle in the transistor during classes..

A) Those days transistors were relatively new. Initially they were very large, so you couldn't kind of smuggle them. Then they became smaller and smaller. And it was possible to put it in your coat pocket, lie down at the back of the class and put the transistor to your ear because those days there were no ear phones. And I'm talking of 60s. So I was in a medical college and then important matches were going on which one couldn't miss. And there was no television. I remember one tennis match particularly in which I missed the entire lecture. And that was India versus Brazil.

Ramanathan Krishnan came back from two sets down and next day he beat Thomas Koch in five sets. These are memories that are etched in a part of my brain, all thanks to the description by the radio broadcasters and commentators who brought it home to us.

For several years, all these games were dominated by English commentators; tea stalls would have blackboards displaying scoreboards and radios blaring where people would be gathered outside cinema halls or in parks to listen to the matches.

I think what really took the game of cricket from streets and lawns into the house was the use of regional and Hindi language commentaries. The game really spread deeper and deeper inside the homes because of language.

Q) How was your preparation for the matches?

A) There were two things. One is that, in those days we didn't have statisticians. I was one of the first people to do television statistics work in 1966 for the match between Board President’s XI and Gary Sobers-led West Indies, which was the very first match that was telecast live in India. My father was the commentator in English. Joga Rao was the commentator in Hindi. Maharaja Fatehsinghrao Gaekwad was the expert and I was a statistician. In those days, there were no computers. So every statistic had to be compiled. During the early days of my commentary, starting from 1971, we didn't have statisticians. Most of the Ranji Trophy games and Test matches, there were no statisticians except for Anandji Dossa in Mumbai. Later Sudhir Vaidya, H.R. Gopalakrishna in Bangalore and various statisticians started coming up.

You needed to have this kind of data available to you to be able to fill in gaps during the match, particularly for those phases, when nothing was happening.

For example, if rain had occurred, and you knew it was a passing shower, then what do you do? There was this one gentleman who was doing Hindi commentary, read the scorecard three times because he didn’t know how else to fill the time. The producer of the program couldn't take us back to the studio because we knew it was a passing shower.

Second thing, I, by nature, wanted to have a little more information about everything that possibly could be related to the match. It later helped me create the sports quiz conducted for 18 years on Doordarshan. I was fortunate in the sense that I had a decent memory and you remember things that you are in love with. There was never a day when I went for commentary without doing my homework, like a student.

Q) Though it is not the case in India, radio cricket commentary in many countries is very popular. How do you think it has evolved worldwide?

A) I think the game of cricket owes part of its popularity to radio broadcasting. Before television came it was the only medium and even when television came the reach was pretty limited. And even now, I would say radio commentary has a great role to play. What has happened in all over the world is that like for example, the Test Match Special of BBC, has been maintained at a certain standard. What attracts listeners is the rapport you develop with them and the use of, as I described, the prerequisites of being a good commentator.

Secondly, you need some kind of a persistence. What has happened historically in India is that someone like Talyarkhan dictated that if he's doing the commentary, nobody else will commentate and he was the only commentator. This, of course, changed in ‘48. But after that, unfortunately All India Radio became a little too democratic. So people who were good were often clubbed with people who were indifferent or less than good. And it was a democratic kind of a distribution that everybody will get two Test matches each. Even during my career, this is what happened irrespective of how you were rated by the Audience Research Unit of All India Radio or Television later. So, what happened was that that degree of connect that was necessary for the commentator to develop with the listener did not occur.

When it did occur, for example, Jasdev Singh and hockey, it was a long-lasting one. This wouldn't have happened if Jasdev was himself not working for All India Radio and if he was an external person, he would have also got two matches and then somebody else would have been fitted in.

In the Test Match Special or ABC Radio, you will find the same people over a period of time and they were given the entire series to cover. So for example, in the great names that come to mind are John Arlott, Trevor Bailey, Brian Johnston from BBC special. Later, Christopher Martin Jenkins. In ABC we had Alan McGilvray, Michael Charlton, and Lindsey Hasset. So, there was it. It’s like having Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor all together with you and then deciding that these three are the best and therefore, will continue. That didn't happen in India.

I am not very much in touch with All India Radio now, but, listen to it. Part of the reason is that I think standards over a period of time have fallen. But part of the reason for that is because I don't think people are that much serious about radio broadcasting in India, it’s a sad, sad fact. But I think the specialisation element, the love that was there earlier in the powers that be who take decisions about these things isn't there or if it is there, I don't know much because I've kind of disassociated myself with it.

Q) Your personal liking or association with some of the fascinating commentators you have shared the mic with. Or maybe you have enjoyed listening to them?

A) If I were to say listening, yes, I would get up at five in the morning. Try and find enough reception to catch ABC Radio and listen to Alan McGilvray. I thought he was super, he was an outstanding commentator and he and Lindsay Hassett too made a great impression on my mind. Those are from Australia. From the UK I think that raspy, very intelligent and how should I say very distinctive voice and descriptive appeal of John Arlott from BBC was something that I enjoyed tremendously. I also liked Brian Johnston, particularly for his voice quality. But if I were to say, over the two who were appealing to me the most during my growing up years from the international community, I would say John Arlott and Alan McGilvray. Those days, of course, experts used to be separate from commentators, and Lindsay Hassett would be more like an expert, just as Jimmy Swanton or Trevor Bailey were on BBC 'Test Match Special'.

Q) Your favourites among the Indians..

A) From India, obviously, I was influenced to a great extent by my father (Devraj Puri), Berry Sarbadhikari and Pearson Surita. One reason was that all three of them played a decent level of cricket. Pearson Surita and Berry Sarbadhikari played up to the University level. Berry slightly more, he was a wicket-keeper. And Surita used to bowl left-arm spin, and the language was outstanding. My father, of course, played a higher grade of cricket. But again, the language was something that appealed to me. And their ability to understand what did the public want was very important. And they quickly grasped the fundamentals without having any guidance at all. And these three had the greatest influence on me as I started getting into the commentators' box more often. There were some from my father's era who had also done commentary with him and then they did with me. I had very high regard for Anand Setalvad. I think he was a terrific commentator. From South India, I had the pleasure of doing commentary with two, who did commentary with my dad too. Balu Alaganan and Anand Rao, both were very good. I thought Balu was underrated. Balu was a very good cricketer. And if memory serves me, right, he captained Tamil Nadu, which was Madras back then in Ranji Trophy. I thought he was an underrated commentator. I liked him a lot, thorough gentlemen. And so was Anand Rao, a very thorough gentleman. So, the other person who I thought had a lot of knowledge, and whom I liked quite a bit, with whom I did commentary, was Dicky Rutnagur. Dicky's repertoire was large because he was essentially a journalist who also did radio commentary. And since he was very widely travelled, I think his knowledge base was extensive. So those would be the ones that left a very deep impression on me and I have very fond memories of that. One other last name that I would like to remember would be Raj Singh Dungarpur. You know, Raj Singh did not do commentary with my dad, but he did with me. We went on the tour to Australia also together. And Raj Singh, of course, was very knowledgeable, had a good voice command, nice. language skills, and was genuinely a cricket lover.

Q) What are the attributes of a good radio commentator. I mean, would it be voice or knowledge of the game or diction?

A) Those three attributes are a must, first of all, knowledge of the game, second command over the language. The third is, of course, you know, ability to create a picture through your words. But the two attributes which are difficult to define are number one would be a love for the sport that you're describing. You must actually be romantically involved. I would put this as nothing short of that. You have to really be in love with that particular sport that you're covering. If you've played it to some level, that's great. But that's important. The second thing is, particularly in earlier days now it's not so important was a knowledge of the principles of broadcasting because those days, you know, you didn't have soundproof rooms where you were broadcasting and you had mics, which were used more in, you know, marriage functions in all. So, later on, the lapel mics, the lip mics came into being, but there were no computers to, you know, drown out the voice or improve the voice quality etc. So you had to learn when to keep quiet when the crowd was shouting, you're not to shout beyond the crowd. So when the crowd sound merged into the microphon, another mic called the effects microphone takes over. So those were things that were handled by an engineer who was sitting in the commentators' box behind us, and he would increase and decrease the volume from one mic to the other. It was all manual. So you had to know what kind of a mic you were using and what kind of surrounding you were in. This came with experience. I learned a lot about these things. Because I used to observe these during the earlier days from the 50s onwards, when I used to be in the box. And secondly, I learned a lot by watching and actually querying a lot of these things from one of the greatest broadcasters India has produced - Melville de Mello.

Q) Can you for us pick the most memorable moment of your career on the mic?

A) You have got me stumped here. I certainly can remember a moment which was both very memorable in a way but also very embarrassing. We were in Melbourne in (February) 1981. It was the 1980-81 series. Sunil Gavaskar was the captain. And we had lost the first Test in Sydney in about two and a half to three days. And we barely survived at Adelaide thanks to the heroics of Sandeep Patil, supported ably by Shivlal Yadav. Sandy got 176 or something like that (174). And in Melbourne, I remember Vishy (G.R. Viswanath) got a hundred (114) and Kapil (Dev) took five for 28 in the final innings with a very badly injured thigh. India went on to win that match and level the series. We hadn't done much of anything of note in Australia if you take aside those two wins that Bishan Bedi’s side had (in 1977-78) but then Australia was not at full par (in 77-78). But this was a full Australian side and to beat them in their own bad backyard, and square the series was a great opportunity. So we were in the stands and I happened to be the commentator along with Raj Singh in English. Ravi (Chaturvedi) and Jasdev were the Hindi commentators. And I'd also shared the mic for a bit with Lindsey Hasset for Radio Australia and then came that moment which I didn't realise when we won. I was wearing a red pullover and I probably subconsciously stood from the my sitting position with the mic in hand and I was shouting away giving this news home. And at night I saw the highlights and there was Richie Benaud describing in one succinct sentence “And there goes an excited Indian commentator giving the glad news back home.” The greatest commentator of all times on television, as far as I'm concerned, had this to say about me.

Q) Was it improper for a commentator to express emotions?

A) I'd always prided myself, like most of my generation did, that we were impartial observers of the game. It was India versus Australia. It was not me versus you kind of thing. But you know those were different days and you felt very, very sad or ebullient in your moods, depending on how the team was doing because you were more or less a part of the team. I felt a little bit more because those days no doctors used to travel so I was unofficially very often consulted by the players. And I remember that morning Yashpal Sharma coming to my room and saying “Doc come and have a look at Kapil’s thigh.” His thigh was pretty bad. I told him that I don't think you can play and he said “No, I'm going to play”. He did pick up five for 28. (Karsan) Ghavri had taken a couple of wickets at the fag end of the previous day, and we won that Test. So that's definitely a lot of good memories. There are many such ones, but that stands out partly for my own fallibility and being caught on the camera as also for the satisfaction of India having beaten Australia and leveled the series.

Q) Can you pick one batsman and one bowler you enjoyed describing the most on air..

A) That is very difficult. I have many favorites. When I was a kid, my favorite was Neil Harvey. I'm not a left hander. But Harvey was a terrific player in my eyes. I saw him get a 100 in Delhi and I fell in love. And I think there are certain moments which stay in your memories because of certain reasons. Subhash Gupte’s leg spin and googly. Vinoo Mankad’s all-round displays against New Zealand. These are what memories are made of. Chandu Borde just about getting a hundred in each innings (109 and 96 in a Test in Delhi v West Indies in 1959), with Vijay Manjrekar - with a fracture - coming in to bat to support him, forgetting what happened to the Test match result. We were only interested in whether Chandu got his second hundred of the match or not. But if I were to say which are the batsmen that I really would pay to watch. I mean, I'd love to watch Bishan (Bedi) bowl. You know, he was poetry in motion. I mean, from the sheer poetry of it. He was so smooth, so relaxed. The way he enjoyed his game, it was very endearing. A person that strangely, and this shocked me as well, and I said this on television a few years ago, a person I'd pay to go and watch would be Virender Sehwag. The way he just blasted the hell out of the bowlers and the consistency with which he has done. But I have a weakness for people who are probably a little more dour and a little more defensive. I thought Sunil Gavaskar, by far was the best opening batsman that I ever saw, not on film, but the best that I ever saw from the perspective of the load that he carried, the attitude that he had, and it was a pleasure to describe Sunny. But what gave me the greatest satisfaction in describing were the square cuts of Vishy (Viswanath). And if I were to continue in the same way, I think a person who I might love to love to watch and love to see play more and more would be Rahul (Dravid). I mean a lot of people will Sachin (Tendulkar). Sachin is great, of course, but Rahul, I think, never got the due that he should have got because he played at the same time. So there are plenty of people I mean, all over the world. There have been some terrific players. And I've been very, very fortunate in getting to see them. But then a lot of people will not know these names, but in 1960, Pakistan had many but they’ll just talk about Hanif (Mohammad). I thought Saeed Ahmed was a terrific player. People who know him say he was a precursor to Yousuf Youhana but a terrific player and pleasure to watch. I think every era produces its own greats. And all over the world, you will have certain class people. The on drive of Greg Chappell was a thing of beauty. So there are so many that you would love to (watch). Sometimes it's difficult even to remember, but it's been a very long innings for me, starting in 1971.

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Dr. Narottam Puri picks an India-Australia contest from the 1980-81 series Down Under as his memorable moment   -  SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Q) Very few people know about your singing talent and I was among the privileged ones to have attended a concert of yours. You surprised me. I mean, I'd never known that you sing so fabulously. Why did you not pursue it or have regular concerts?

A) No no no. I am no singer. I'm just just an ordinary person who loves music. I have done a few concerts. I've learned some ghazal singing and some semi-classical music from Dilli Gharana. It was my Ustad, my Guruji who insisted that I should do a performance, and I've done a couple of them. But I sing basically to please myself, not for public consumption kind of thing. Music is something that is a great, great love of mine. And I love to listen, particularly old Hindi film songs and ghazals. And sometimes, in small groups of family and friends, I do sing, but I've stopped learning now. I'm 73. And there's comes a time when one must retire.

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Q) How do you pass your time?

A) Being a doctor, both a practising doctor as well as a hospital administrator in health care management for the last few years has kept me very busy with work. Although I'm working part time, I'm still occupied three quarters of the day, five days a week at least.

Q) Your connect with the with this game which you have loved so much

A) Cricket I would say was my first love and you never forget your first love. Never. It isn't a game to me. It is life. The way a fielder is moved squarer, four yards to the right at gully; and this mid-on dropped five yards back carries to me a lot of messages. I guess cricket is like a game of chess. And that's why I enjoy it so much because it's a battle of wits. It's a battle of attrition. It's a battle where you can come back despite being down for some period of time, which the faster versions of game don't allow. I mean, it has everything that life has. How is it that somebody is dropped three times and gets a 100 and somebody gets a beauty of delivery, the first ball that he faces and gets out and never gets to play a match again. That's again life. That is how things work in life as well. People keep on getting opportunities till they make it big, and others fail once and are never given an opportunity. So there's an element to me of spirituality or something like gods. I know I'm sounding foolish. But that's the degree of love that I have for this sport. And it has been there with me. I don't know why. But from as long as I remember,

Q) How would you welcome the listener when the producer would connect with you in the commentators box in say Melbourne, and then how would you take us back to the studio when the last ball has been bowled?

A) It’s quite difficult to do. It reminds me of what Tiger (Pataudi) once told me. Tiger was a good friend and senior. I have nothing but praise for that man. He was very helpful to me. Tiger was once asked by All India Radio to judge how good a particular commentator was. It was by the Audience Research Unit. And since this conversation occurred whilst the two of us were in the commentators box and this gentleman was asking him whether he could do it, he said yes, I will do it. Provided that I am also sitting in the ground and watching the match when this is happening and listening in. Not that you record five minutes and make me listen to it in the radio. So of course, they didn't do it and he didn't kind of sit in judgement. He was absolutely right. Unless and until you are there, seeing the action, with that smell of grass, you can't tell. You are a journalist yourself for so many years of distinction behind you, you know what it is?

Q) I agree the presence at ground is critical to capture the ambience….

A) That smell of the earth, that smell of the grass, that atmosphere gets to you. So without that it's very difficult. So during our days, there were lots of do's and don'ts. You used to get a sheet of paper as to what you could or you couldn't say at that time, it's kind of stymied you to a considerable extent But it was, after all, a Government of India undertaking and one can understand that there had to be certain SOPs laid down. Basically you have to be yourself. The idea is that you must not forget what are called the fundamentals of broadcasting. That is the use of the mic. How much is the ambient noise level around you? The second thing is that when you're greeting or you're taking somebody back to this thing, you're leaving them with information. Remember in radio the thing is that everybody is not able to hear every single moment. So in between breaks while you're, you know, maybe taken a coffee break, you're listening to five minutes of commentary. So, if you are in that space, that you are able to judge these things, that the person will need every two to three minutes, an update of what the score, is who's batting on how much, etc, then this is a very important exercise. It might appear repetitive. But it is very important to realize what does the listener want? It's like the same as a good teacher wanting to understand not to show his knowledge, but to understand what does the student want from him? What level is he? So fundamentally, it's very easy. So all that you got to do is put yourself in the listeners shoe, and then describe what will be the situation. In the beginning obviously you're going to say “Good morning, welcome to so and so ground. It's the third day of the match. It's a lovely day. The skies are blue and India are 213 for three, with Kohli batting on such and such and etcetera, etcetera. You do that, just as a quick recap, summarizing in probably 30 seconds, the situation. When you go back, you wouldn't just say that when disaster struck, as far as cricket lovers are concerned, it's not only just rain, it is torrential rain. And it doesn't look like any more play is possible with India on 313 for seven, so and so batting at such such score. This person is batting at such and such score. It's been a day of mixed fortunes for India. Some of them will go back a bit more satisfied than the others. But given the fact that they're batting first, having won the toss, having 300 on the board with inclement whether it's a good position to be in. We'll be with you tomorrow morning, hopefully, with clear blue skies. Till then, bye.” Something like that.

Q) Thanks you for sparing time for THE HINDU and SPORTSTAR despite being busy with work related to COVID-19

A) Thank you. And, to all my countrymen, I would say stay positive. But this is one moment when saying stay negative. That means COVID negative. It is probably the better way to end the conversation. Thank you very much for having me.

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