Steely resolve was Sudha Shah's forte

Published: Monday, September 4, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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In 1981, when England toured India, no player was given such a raw deal as Sudha. She was not named in the South Zone team as it was assumed she would be an automatic choice for the Indian team. As things turned out, she was not picked for the Indian team. She was brought in to open the batting in the fourth Test at Calcutta and dropped thereafter without giving her adequate chances.

History repeated at the time of selecting the Indian team for the 1982 World Cup held at New Zealand. She was named as the first standbye and with Shashi Gupta injured, she should have been included. But WCAI picked Mangal Babar of Gujurat and Sudha had the mortification of seeing lesser talented players taking what was rightfully her place.

Sudha has been a prolific scorer for South Zone and formed the nucleus of the side's batting. Her best innings till date has been her 89 not out against the formidable West Zone team in the Rani Jhansi Inter Zonal tournament held at Mumbai in 1983. West Zone had the services of players like Diana Edulji, Shubangi Kulkarni, Shobha Pandit, Vrinda Bhagat, Nilima Joglekar and Anjali Gurjar.

South Zone were set a target of 200 plus in 49 overs and were 52 for two in 25 overs with Sudha batting on 25. The third wicket pair of Sudha and myself added 150 runs for the unbroken third wicket to steer the side to a comprehensive victory. While I went after the bowling to accelerate the scoring rate and got 80 not out, it was Sudha who stood like the rock of Gibraltar and guided South Zone to their second championship victory.

The little known fact about her has been her ability to bowl well. She was one of the key bowlers of the Zonal team. Her bowling enabled South Zone to register a victory over the highly fancied Institutional side in the Ghaziabad Rani Jhansi Trophy of 1994.

Statistics by itself can never enable people to gauge the value of a player or of the services rendered. Sudha has a Test half-century to her credit, which she got against New Zealand in the 1985 series. Sudha qualifies as one of the most knowledgeable captains in the domestic circuit. She led India in the Delhi Test in 1975 against Australia that ended in a nerve-tingling draw. Her unassuming posture did not help her cause to be considered for the Indian captaincy again.

But she has proved her capacity in the sphere of player management with the Indian team winning most matches against England in England in 1999. As the Cricket Manager of the Indian team, Sudha will have a large role to play in essaying a good Indian performance in the World Cup starting in November this year in New Zealand.

For once Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI) have not erred in naming the Cricket Manager of the Indian team. Sudha is the best available and Thatscricket.com wishes Sudha and her team a memorable World Cup.

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