Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Spinner who bowled with a Classic Loop

Erapalli Anantharao Srinivas Prasanna was born on 22nd May 1940 at Bangalore. He played Ranji Trophy for Karnataka. His first class career started in 1961. He made his test debut against England at Madras in 1961. In 1962, he went to the West Indies on his first overseas tour. He took a sabbatical from cricket between 1962 and 1966 to finish his engineering degree. He was known in the team as `Pras’. Erapalli Prasanna belonged to the famous spin quartet of the Indian cricket team. He was a right hand bat and a right arm off spinner. He played 49 tests scoring 735 runs and picking up 189 wickets with a best of 8/76. He played 235 first class matches and picked up 957 wickets. He played his last test against Pakistan at Lahore in 1978. He played first class cricket between 1961 and 1978. Erapalli Prasanna led Karnataka twice to the Ranji Trophy championship, once ending Bombay’s reign of fifteen long years. In the series against West Indies in 1966, the spin quartet troubled the West Indian batting line up. Prasanna helped India record its first victory overseas when he took twenty five wickets in four tests in New Zealand in 1968. Erapalli Prasanna grew professionally under the guidance of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Jr. He enjoyed bowling to batsmen who were eager to try and loft him. He was always out thinking his victims before he delivered the ball. He had complete control on the trajectory of the flight. He was sometimes difficult to play even on good batting tracks. When the batsmen thought that they were going to meet a half volley, they found that the ball had pitched a foot shorter than they had anticipated. His arm ball drifted like a floater and wobbled in the air. He spun the ball with a classic loop towards the batsmen with good chances of beating them in the air and also making the ball bounce higher than the batsmen’s anticipation. Hanumanth Singh has hailed this legendary off spinner as the finest spinner he has faced. In his memoirs, he has written, “Prasanna had plenty of variations and his repertoire was unlimited as was his imagination. How he bowled depended on what you did as a batsman. It was a constant battle of wits. We were playing on a bad turning wicket in Madras. There was a cross breeze from the Marina Beach and he was bowling from the Southern End. He went around and bowled a flighted delivery. The ball floated out. I planted my front foot too soon. The ball drifted in. The foot remained there but the bat was dragged away towards the ball, creating a gap. The ball pitched, turned and went through the gate, bowling me.” Erapalli Prasanna was known as the chess grandmaster of off spin bowling as a result of his deceptive style. He has written his autobiography titled ` One more over’. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1970 and the Castrol Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

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