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Cricket — Nilesh Kulkarni rewinds the clock to an ecstatic yet agonising debut


25 years since his document on Test debut, left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni relives the expertise

25 years since his document on Test debut, left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni relives the expertise

The highest whole in Test cricket historical past.

The then highest partnership in Test cricket.

Sri Lanka’s highest particular person rating in a Test match.

Still, for an Indian cricket fan, the run-feast in Colombo throughout the first Test match of the sequence that began on August 2, 1997 is remembered for a singular bowling document. Left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni grew to become India’s first bowler to choose a wicket off his first ball in Test cricket.

Ironically, regardless of dismissing opener Marvan Atapattu off his first ball, Kulkarni went wicketless for the subsequent 419 balls he bowled in the match as Sri Lanka piled on a document 952 for six. Sanath Jayasuriya (340) and Roshan Mahanama shared a 576-run partnership as India couldn’t choose a wicket on the third and fourth day of the match.

Kulkarni, now founder-director of a sports activities administration institute right here, remembers “one of the biggest life-lessons” he learnt throughout that week in Colombo.

It’s been 25 years since that week. Do you take a look at it as a memorable or forgettable week?

You at all times take a look at whether or not the glass is half full or half empty. I’ve at all times checked out it as a glass half full. For me, it’s an exquisite reminiscence as a result of I acquired the greatest alternative to symbolize my nation. I’m grateful that I acquired the alternative to symbolize my nation and put on the cap with utmost satisfaction.

Former India spinner Nilesh Kulkarni remembers his distinctive Test debut on its twenty fifth anniversary
| Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Surely there wasn’t a capping ceremony round toss time throughout these days?

Definitely not. The cap was given to us earlier than the tour began as a part of the package that was offered to us. There was no formal capping ceremony as such. Things have modified now, however in these days, the package got here to my home and we carried that. 

Mumbai's Nilesh Kulkarni seen in action in the Ranji Trophy final match against Tamil Nadu at the M.A. Chidambaram stadium in Chennai, on March 29, 2004. 
Photo: N. Balaji

Mumbai’s Nilesh Kulkarni seen in motion in the Ranji Trophy remaining match towards Tamil Nadu at the M.A. Chidambaram stadium in Chennai, on March 29, 2004.
Photo: N. Balaji
| Photo Credit: BALAJI N

Did you count on to bowl when India declared a couple of minutes earlier than stumps on the second night?

Marvan (Atapattu) and Sanath (Jayasuriya) have been going nice weapons at the begin. We had to bowl round an hour or so and the focus was to get a few wickets. I used to be not hoping to bowl. Rajesh Chauhan was to bowl the final over however Marvan took a single in the final couple of balls of the earlier over, which made Sachin (Tendulkar, the captain) change his thoughts and get a left-arm spinner bowling to a right-hander.

While I used to be altering my fielding place, out of the blue he known as and requested me to bowl. Since I hadn’t had time to put together, I wasn’t actually prepared. As I used to be handing the cap to the umpire, he advised me I had lower than two minutes to bowl the first ball. It was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t get sufficient time to bowl the debut over.

All I used to be pondering of was “don’t embarrass yourself, make sure you bowl the right ball and hit the right length so that the debut would be memorable”. I simply did it. Luckily for me, Marvan was taking part in a little bit of an aggressive innings so he wished to go after the bowlers and dominate. He went for that cowl drive and Nayan Mongia accomplished the catch.

Mumbai bowler Nilesh Kulkarni appeals unsuccessfully for an lbw against Delhi batsman Varun Kumar during the Ranji Trophy Elite Group cricket match at the Ferozeshah Kotla in New Delhi on November 24, 2005. 
Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Mumbai bowler Nilesh Kulkarni appeals unsuccessfully for an lbw towards Delhi batsman Varun Kumar throughout the Ranji Trophy Elite Group cricket match at the Ferozeshah Kotla in New Delhi on November 24, 2005.
Photo: V.V. Krishnan
| Photo Credit: KRISHNAN VV

So what occurred after stumps?

In truth, I didn’t comprehend it was a document. All of us have been joyful. The day was known as off. We have been coming again and I used to be giving throwdowns to a couple of batters. I used to be fully in an informal temper until a couple of press reporters got here down and advised me it was a world document and I used to be the first from India. That’s when it hit me that one thing completely different had occurred in my life. Incidentally, after the day’s play, I met Muralitharan at the resort and he advised me: “Well done, good luck for the next three days”. Little did I realise that I used to be not going to get a wicket for the subsequent three days.

Wasn’t that one in every of the biggest life-lessons?

Absolutely. The vagaries of life. The extremities of life, I skilled them in my debut match. I acquired a wicket off the first ball, was feeling at the prime of the world. The subsequent three days, I struggled to get one other wicket. Fortunately for me, simply earlier than that sequence, I had bowled a marathon spell for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy remaining at Gwalior. Even in the semifinal towards Madhya Pradesh, I had a reasonably lengthy spell.

Mumbai's Nilesh Kulkarni, dismissing Syed Zakaria Zuffri 
of the Railways, was impressive with 25 scalps.

Mumbai’s Nilesh Kulkarni, dismissing Syed Zakaria Zuffri
of the Railways, was spectacular with 25 scalps.

So happily for me, I knew how to handle bowling 50-70 overs. You want to situation your self mentally however you don’t count on that, particularly in the first match. To get a style of Test cricket in such a way, having are available in as the highest wicket-taker in the Ranji season. You go in with that confidence, you begin with an actual excessive and then you definately hit a low for the subsequent three days. I share the similar with my college students.

Does Atapattu nonetheless maintain a grudge towards you for having entered his title in record-books for the fallacious causes?

Every time I meet Marvan, we joke about it and he at all times pulls my leg. In truth, Neluni, his spouse — both they have been simply married or engaged — had come to watch him play for the first time that day and I acquired him out in the final over of the day. We at all times joke about it.



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