Saba Karim was fourteen at the time of this article in 1981-82. He played for India 35 times (1 Test & 34 ODIs). A talented cricketer SYED SABA KARIM is the greatest news for Patna cricket in recent years. This youngster has brought glory to this city by getting selected in India’s under-19 team for the West Indies four.
A student of Standard X in Patna’s St. Xavier’s College, Saba Karim is the youngest of the three cricket-playing brothers, and besides batting with electric touch, he is an excellent keeper also. He can dive with equal ease on both sides of the wicket and can whip off the bails at any moment. Saba was a keen follower of his brothers at cricket nets and it was his ability to learn the finer points of this year.
Saba Karim was in great form from the very beginning. As the vice-captain of the Bihar team, he hammered 165 against Bengal in the Cooch-Behar Trophy match at Cuttack. Though Bihar lost, he was elected to lead East Zone in the inter-zonal at Bombay. Against South Zone’s combined pace and spin attack, Saba hit a fighting 89 runs just 11 short of a well-deserved hundred in the second innings.
Altogether three centuries were scored that day. But it was Saba’s innings which was considered the best. Let us see what the Times of India, Bombay edition had to say about Saba’s performance: “Karim, who was run out in the first innings, played all the shots in the book. He particularly excelled in stepping out to drive and usually kept the ball along the ground. With left-hander Das (33) falling to a doubtful catch at forwarding short-leg and the other East Zone batsmen proving incapable of hitting the bowlers, Karim virtually had to bat at both ends.
The pressure told in the end as he stepped out to drive the nagging left-arm spinner Raman, and, as the ball jumped, was stumped by Manay. A fine stance and sound defense distinguished Karim, who also kept wickets well, catching three batsmen and stumping one. Along with Chetan Sharma of Haryana, said to be another Kapil Dev in the making, Saba has been declared winner of the J. C Mukherjee award, given to the best schoolboy cricketer in India every year.
It is hoped that Saba Karim will continue to go from strength to his team on return from the West Indies tour in all respect that prompted veteran Sudhir Das to ask him to join a coaching camp he was held at Patna. The year was 1977 and Saba was only 10 years old. In his days Sudhir Das was one of India’s well-known all-rounders and but for Dattu Phadkar, his contemporary, he would have gained Test selection also. He brought Saba to the nets to watch how well he could play his seniors and immediately noticed in him the makings of a good cricketer.
It was at Sudhir Das’s suggestion that Saba took to wicket keeping and justified his coach’s opinion five years later by becoming a dependable sentry behind the stumps. Sudhir Das never came to Patna for coaching after 1977. Since then Adhikan M. M. Prasad has been training Saba and some other talented teenagers who have shown good results.
After being selected in the Bihar State team for the Vijay Merchant Trophy in 1979-80 and 1980-81, he also represented East Zone at the inter-zonal during those two seasons at Bombay and Madras. Last year, he was called up to the all-India camp at Bangalore, but as he suffered an injury at the start of the camp, he could not do anything significant except warning a scholarship of Rs 1,000 from the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Two other Patna youngsters Amikar Dayal and Prana Jaiswal also got the board’s scholarship.