Fowzi was India's most stylish batsman

Published: Tuesday, August 29, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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By 1976, Fowzi's place in the Indian team was firmly entrenched and she got reasonable scores against the visiting New Zealand team. But her best was yet to come. Two of her innings are stored in my memory and even after watching the game for over two decades, those still rank pretty high in my estimate.

In the fifth Test against West Indies at Lucknow in 1976, Shobha Pandit and Fowzi put on 88 runs for the first wicket. Fowzi went on to score 84 runs and the Indian total got respectability with her innings. She had also scored 58 runs in the 4th Test at Patna against West Indies in a low scoring match and this enabled India, coupled with some brilliant display by Diana, to register the first ever win against a visiting team.

In the 1981 series against England in India, Fowzi had a few low scores and was dropped from the team. She utilised the England-South Zone match played at Hyderabad to the hilt by top scoring with an unbeaten 57 and was associated in an unbroken partnership of 102 runs in 136 minutes with me.

From 56 for five, we had taken the score to 158 for five at which score I declared the innings. This performance helped her regain her place in the Indian team.

Smarting from the insult of having been dropped, Fowzi always had the desire to make the selectors regret their act. She did not have to wait for long. The 1982 World Cup, held In New Zealand, provided her with the ideal platform to achieve this.

England had the services of the aging super star of women's cricket, Rachel Heyhoe Flint and the highly successful Jannette Britton. In the World Cup fixture between India and England, Fowzi played a never-to-be forgotten innings when she scored 88 runs against them and gave India a fighting chance of beating the highly fancied England.

She played an amazing innings excelling with her cleverly placed lofted shots. As if it wasn't enough, Fowzi stole the limelight again getting five dismissals behind the stumps, three stumpings and two catches. This enabled India to register their first ever victory against England by a margin of over 50 runs in what will always be remembered as Fowzi's match.

She was one of the prolific batsmen of Tamil Nadu, South Zone and India. At that time, hers was one of the three popular names in the game. As she was carrying the awesome responsibility of keeping wickets and opening the batting, she preferred not to lead even her state team.

Even though there are many who have surpassed her score now, there has been none to match her style and confidence. As one of the leading commentators put it, Fowzi could "stump" most people and not just with her wicket-keeping!

The World Cup triumph against England was destined to be her last, besides being her best, as the wedding bells rang and she had to hang up her boots. Fowzi, who is settled in Canada now, gave her utmost to the game and was one of the architects who laid the foundation for the game in India.

Thatscricket.com salutes her for her services to Indian women's cricket.

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