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Narendra Hirwani – A Man Who Created History on Test Debut
Narendra Hirwani is mainly remembered for his extraordinary success on his Test debut against West Indies in 1987-88. He is born on 18 October 1968 in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. His main ability to bowl leg-spin, he played 17 test matches for India between 1988 and 1996. He started his Test career with a bang, when a 19-year-old boy, rocks the west indies by taking 16 wickets on his Test debut at Madras. Hirwani was a stalwart in domestic cricket, ending their first-class career with 723 wickets at 27.05 in 167 matches. He was a pillar of Madhya Pradesh, claiming about 400 wickets.
Narendra Hirwani retired in 2006, finishing a 23-year-old first-class career, and he was selected to the national selection panel in 2008. He belongs to a well-off family, as his father owned a brick factory. At the age of 16, he took 5 wickets for Madhya Pradesh in his debut first-class match. He took 5 for 101 in the first inning against Rajasthan in 1984. Against Australian U19, he claimed 23 wickets in the three-match series. Hirwani bespectacled and phenomenally talented surprised West Indies on the difficult turning wicket.
In 1987-88, Indian selectors gave a chance to Hirwani against West Indies U-25, where he failed in the first inning, but eventually came strongly back to take six wickets in the 2nd inning. This performance forces selectors to make their Test debut in the final Test of the series at Madras.
In the first inning, he took 8 for 61, and 8 for 75 in the 2nd inning and finish the match figures of 16 for 136. In the first innings, he dismissed RB Richardson, IVA Richards, AL Logie, CL Hooper, PJL Dujon, CG Butts, WW Davis, and CA Walsh. Therefore, in the 2nd innings, he dismissed PV Simmons, DL Haynes, IVA Richards, CL Hooper, PJL Dujon, AL Logie, CG Butts, and WW Davis.
Narendra Hirwani was very ecstatic to create history by breaking Bob Massie’s record, who had taken 16 for 137 on his test debut in the 1972 Ashes series. In the next three Test matches, he took 20 wickets against New Zealand next year. After 4 Test Matches, he had taken 36 wickets, most by any bowler at this stage of their cricket career. Later, his career was in the doldrums. In 1989-90, West Indies took revenge against him, deliberately attacked his leg-spin bowling, and smashed all corners of the ground. Hence, very little success he took after that.
Narendra Hirwani took another leap jump, by becoming the first Indian bowler to capture 4 wickets in three consecutive ODI’s and won the man of the series in the three-nation tournament at Sharjah. Another Test record which is very few people know is when he bowled 59 overs unchanged without a break against England at the Oval in 1990. Hirwani was slow in the air, but sharp on the wicket, which had turn and bounce. One of his memorable moments was during the 1991-92 world series, where India must beat the West Indies to qualify for the final.
Hirwani took two important wickets of Brian Lara, and Richie Richardson. But unluckily, he could not find a place in the India team for the 1992 cricket world cup. After that, he was sidelined for 4 years, and came back against New Zealand and took 6 for 59 in the rain-affected match. He was also a member of the India tour of England in 1996 and played another couple of Test Matches against South Africa. He finished the tour with just 2 wickets in Test matches; eventually, Harwani’s career was all but over. Because Anil Kumble was the top choice for India’s number one spinner.
In 2001, he was again selected against Australia, but could not play any of the Tests, which disappointed him and forced him to publicly criticize Captain Saurav Ganguly. Therefore, with Harbhajan Singh, sudden success led India to win the famous test series, diminished the Hirwani chances, and Ganguly’s decision of not picking him stood vindicated.
Hirwani’s son Mihir is also a leg spinner and played a few first-class matches for Madhya Pradesh. Narendra Hirwani’s international career lasted for almost eight years in which, he played 17 Tests and 18 ODI’s claiming 66 and 23 wickets respectively.