In all spheres of sports, we come across players of rare calibre who, undaunted by the limited avenues and various hurdles that life throws at them, bounce back repeatedly. To this elite group belong the highly talented players, who (despite giving their hearts out to the game) do not achieve the pinnacle of glory they justly deserve. Sudha Shah is one of those rare breeds of players, who fit into this group by the sheer strength of her perseverance.
Like Mohinder Amarnath, who made it a habit of staging come-backs, Sudha also has been at the receiving end on various occasions but had resolutely fought back and proved her critics wrong. Both Sudha and Mohinder were solid in defence and technique was their forte. The only difference is that Sudha did not call the selectors a bunch of jokers but bore it all with a grin - and perhaps a pinch of salt.
Sudha started off as the key player of Tamil Nadu right from the inception of the game in India. She virtually carried the entire burden of Tamil Nadu on her capable shoulders for over two decades. Tamil Nadu became a team that the opponents dreaded. If there has been one player who has scripted the fortunes of her state team, it can only be Sudha. Tamil Nadu cricket has revolved round her and her performance.
The two of us played for teams that were traditional rivals. The battles were sometimes fought hard and there was always a feeling of rivalry between the two teams. Matters were compounded with the officials of the two states fighting over the captaincy of the zonal team and this sometimes percolated to the teams, making the moments even harder. Sudha and I invariably occupied centre stage in this battle for captaincy and things ought to have been difficult between us.
But, the reality was altogether different. Perhaps I have not got along so well with anyone else as I did with her on the field. It made little difference as to who was leading and this spirit steered South Zone to victories against more formidable sides. Being the automatic choice for the South Zone captaincy on many occasions, Sudha has led South Zone more often than anyone else has.
Sudha was a totally committed player and when she started her career, her stroke play was a pleasure to watch. But with experience, Sudha appeared to become more and more inhibited. This resulted in some slow innings for India when she was criticised more than needed.