Sandhya Agarwal, India's run machine

Published: Monday, October 23, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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As was the case with most of us, Sandhya also was a victim of bad administration by the Women's Cricket Association of India. From 1986 to 1991, there were no International matches and Indian players lost that opportunity to perform when age was in their favour and they were in their peak form.

In the disastrous Indian tour of Australia of 1991, Sandhya was one of the very few batsmen who came to grip with the Australian pitches, albeit to a very little extent. Besides Rajini Venugopal, it was only Sandhya who countered the hard pitches and came up with a half-century (51) in Sydney in 452 minutes.

Sandhya was so set in her style of batting that she reached a stage where she found it difficult to adapt to the changing requirements of One-day games. Her resolve to stay at the middle affected India's scoring rate and this weighed heavily against her when the selectors chose the captain for the 1994 Australian tour of India.

It was felt that Sandhya must be honoured with the Indian captaincy without sacrificing the team's interests. It was decided to name Sandhya as the captain of the Indian team for the Tests while Purnima Rau was named to lead the One-day squad. And for those who laughed at this strategy at that point of time, the Australian men followed this trend by naming Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh as captains of their Test and One-day squads! That was the last time anyone ridiculed the idea of naming different captains for different varieties of the game. But it was also Sandhya's last stint at the captaincy.

Sandhya's inability to come to grips with the changing times, where the accent was on quick adaptability, led to her premature exit from the Indian team. For a person who was a good fielder and had the ability to thrash any type of a bowler on any wicket, it was sad that she failed to read the writing on the wall and therefore had to beat a hasty retreat. Sandhya the batsman in the "Nets" was so aggressive as opposed to her stoic batting in the matches. She could have set up numerous records if only she could have played her natural game in big matches.

Sandhya was undoubtedly the Indian run machine and, in my opinion, the greatest batsman ever to traverse this earth. I have seen England superstar Rachel Heyhoe Flint, though towards the end of her career, but it will be difficult for anyone to match the technique of Sandhya Agarwal and her ability to play a long innings.

Though not consciously, Sandhya appeared to have modeled her batting after Sunil Gavaskar, and this was easily detectable to the discerning. There were no reasons not to as both of them were definitely the greatest Indian batters.

It was no wonder that the Indian government honoured her with the prestigious Arjuna award for 1986 in recognition of her profound talent and services to the game of women's cricket.

Thatscricket.com salutes her for her contribution to the game and the nation by including her in the Golden Oldies section of our write up on women's cricket.

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