Pramila's intrinsic worth was under utilised

Published: Monday, November 6, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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In the 1993 National Championship played at Hyderabad, Pramila was leading Karnataka. Air India had made their debut and Karnataka played them in the quarter-finals. With half the side out chasing a moderate score, Pramila and Mala Sundareshan added over 90 runs to win the match for Karnataka. And again in 1994 when the Australian team toured India, she scored a very fluent unbeaten 45 in the Second Test at Lucknow. This after taking a handful of wickets!

But immediately following the 1994 tour, the Indian team went to New Zealand to participate in the triangular series with Australia and hosts New Zealand. The Australian team, arguably the world's best in the last 12 years, lost to India where Pramila captured two wickets including the prize wicket of skipper Belinda Clark. And when India still needed 50 odd runs to clinch the issue, she came up with an unbeaten 35 that ensured India's victory.

Pramila's ascent to the throne (Indian captaincy) was under vague circumstances. Purnima Rau had fallen out of favour with the team management and after India's defeat in the Jamshedpur Test against England in 1995, Pramila was an automatic choice. She had by then matured as a captain having led Air India in the domestic tournaments.

In her debut match as captain at Lucknow, she captured four for 15 against England that virtually sealed England's fate in the One-dayers. India won the One-day series but lost a golden opportunity to square the Test series when they failed to get the last wicket for over 90 minutes, thanks to dropped catches, in the Hyderabad Test, which was led by Pramila.

The Indian team, led by Pramila, was widely expected to win the 1997 World Cup hosted by India, as our spinners on Indian pitches were a difficult proposition. But the team was loaded with a lot of so called all-rounders who, in the ultimate analysis, neither batted nor bowled well. Pramila was the first to admit that the absence of a fine batsman like Rajini Venugopal was sorely felt. However faulty tactics and lack of planning did contribute to India's exit from the tournament.

The Indore match against New Zealand, which ended in a tie, put India in the semi-finals against Australia whereas a victory there would have seen India in action in the semi-finals against England in Chennai. India obviously had the capability to overcome England and New Zealand easily but that was not to be.

Pramila's contribution to Indian cricket was enormous as a bowler. Indian spin attack has always been a nightmare to the opponents and Pramila's role in carrying on the tradition of making the Indian spin attack an envy of the rest of the world is significant. A totally dedicated player, who quit international cricket in 1997, she always gave her best and Thatscricket.com salutes this great cricketer among the other "Golden Oldies", who left indelible impressions in the women's cricket horizon.

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