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Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Lagaan match

It's over a week past that time of the year, folks, when Aamir Khan usually decides to launch his new release. Last time he attempted an idiotic threesome which turned out to be rather iconic. I was so engrossed watching it that I had left my favourite woollen cap behind in a NOIDA theatre.

The first Aamir Khan movie that really made me even consider him was Baazi: I remember watching it at Basusree, and it was the only movie I had watched in the short time span between my Higher Secondary and J2EE examinations. Baazi, though a dud in the box office, was actually a sleek, smart production.

I made a note of the director's name. A few years later I saw his name on the poster once again, once again with Aamir Khan's rugged (well, they tried to make him look rugged) face spanning half of the poster. The movie was called Lagaan.

The name attracted curiousity in itself. What could lagaan possibly mean? It certainly wasn't lagan (effort). And since the movie wasn't in Bengali, Aamir and team surely wasn't inviting everyone to an orgy.

Deepayan, on his way out to Madison, WI, saw the movie in Delhi; he emailed me that it was the second movie with Suhasini Mulay in it where Amitabh Bachchan was the narrator AND the protagonist was called Bhuvan. Yes, we used to be insane. We possibly still are.

Anyway, all that is not why I want to write the article in the first place. I loved Lagaan. It remains one of those rare movies that I have watched four times in theatres (twice in Menoka, and once each in Basusree - alone - and Hind). There has never been a movie - Sholay included - where I have shouted, cheered and clapped so much during a movie.

But this is not about all that, either. It isn't even about the fact that it had A K Hangal in it, who looked the same as he did in Sholay. This is about something that I have always wanted to do: write a report of the match, and present a scorecard with maximum possible information.


Let's get started with the squads, then:
In batting order, the Champaner XI (let's call them Indians, for the sake of patriotism) comprised of:

  1. Bhuvan the wonder-what (Aamir Khan), captain: your long-innings batsman and first-change medium fast bowler; reminiscent of Jacques Kallis, it's just that Bhuvan led his side as well
  2. Deva Singh Sodhi, the ex-militant Sardar (Pradeep Singh Rawat): yet another quality batsman and opening bowler; two all-rounders of this quality in the same side can actually make any side a quality one
  3. Arjan the blacksmith (Akhilendra Mishra): a hot-headed powerful batsman, possibly not the ideal no. 3
  4. Lakha the woodcutter (Yashpal Sharma): another specialist batsman who could field quite well as well
  5. Bagha the mute temple drummer (Amin Hajee): yet another hot-headed powerful batsman
  6. Ismail of unknown profession (Raj Zutshi): given his cool temperament, batted 2-3 slots below where he should have done; also a smooth-actioned leg-spinner
  7. Ishwar the village doctor (Shri Vallabh Vyas), wicket-keeper: also a decent batsman; possibly in the high 50s, I wondered why he was made to keep wickets
  8. Guran the tantrik (Rajesh Vivek): doesn't look quite convincing, but a surprisingly innovative and improvising all-rounder
  9. Goli the relatively rich farmer (Daya Shankar Pandey): a fast bowler with a curiously legal action
  10. Bhura the chicken farmer (Raghuveer Yadav): possibly the first specialist fielder in the history of the game; brilliant fielder, didn't bowl, batted at ten
  11. Kachra the crippled untouchable basket-maker (Aditya Lakhia): the mystery leg-break bowler (did someone mention Palwankar Baloo?)
In case you don't remember them, here's a team picture:
Left to right: Lakha, Guran, Bhura, Ishwar, Goli, Bhuvan, Ismail, Bagha, Deva, Arjan, Kachra
Ashutosh cleverly slipped in a scene where the British not only announced their squad, but also their batting order (which they, much to my relief, adhered to during the match). Here's what Captain Andrew Russell said after a practice match:
Smith and Burton (wicket-keeper) will open, with Smith to face, followed by myself at number three, followed by Brooks, Wesson, North, Benson, Harrison, Flynn, Willis, Yardley.

If you're really keen on the real names, I can provide you with two: Paul Blackthorne played Captain Russell, and Howard Lee played Burton (who subsequently went on to act in Pyar Ishq aur Mohabbat, Bose: The Forgotten Hero and The Rising: The Ballad of Mangal Pandey). For the other nine, you can look up here.


I was curious regarding who would officiate the match. Apparently the match was given a larger-than-life shape in 1893, and hence they got "neutral, honest" (British) umpires from Kanpur.

It was scheduled to be a three-day, one-innings match. The catch was that the Indians had to win the match: even a draw or a tie would result in the British win the challenge.

The most obvious blooper was the fact that the match involved six-ball overs. Six-ball overs were introduced in England in 1900, and in 1893, they used to have five-ball overs (this was since 1889; till 1888 they had four-ball overs).

The other not-too-obvious blooper was that they used the front-foot no-ball rule that's prevalent now (at the point of delivery, some part of the front-foot is supposed to be behind the popping crease); the law was implemented as late as 1969 (yes, The Don made all those runs when the ball was delivered from a yard or two closer).

In case this is not clear, have a look at the screenshot below (first over of the match, Deva to Smith):
No, that's not an 1893 no-ball, Ashutosh
Did they allow the substitute fielder as a runner in 1893? I have no idea, but I think they did - they wouldn't have made an error that glaring. But the error they did make was that Tipu wasn't wearing the same attire as Ismail.

What about beamers? The recent rules are quite strict on them, but in 1893, well, they were legal deliveries, and bowlers weren't banned either for overbowling them.


The Indian crowd, by the way, was incredibly colourful in their remarkably authentic attire, especially the women (long live Bhanu Athaiya!). They largely sat on the ground. There was a marquee, mostly for the team and their immediate family.

The British were quite organised in their cantonment, mostly seated on chairs. There was a foursome that deserves a mention here - they had some interesting comments throughout the match, which were mostly drowned in the frenzy inside the theatre, but you can pick them up on television.
Left to right: Major Warren, Colonel Boyer, Elizabeth Russell, Major Cotton
There was also Ram Singh, a British orderly of sorts, who provided commentary in Hindi; this had an awesome script - it was thought of well enough to suit the connoisseur and the ignorant.

Right, then, let's get to the match.



Russell wins the toss and elects to bat.

Smith takes strike, as promised. Deva gets to bowl at him.

Two things should be noted here: Bhuvan's field placements are quite good. He knows he needs slips for the new ball. But since there's no grass on the pitch and absolutely no moisture (well, had there been moisture, the movie wouldn't have happened in the first place), he has just one slip. To boot, he has placed his best fielder Bhura there. He also has a long leg (deep fine leg), and has placed Bagha, the one with the strongest arm, there.

There's no sight screen, though. Just when Deva is about to bowl the first ball, a man on horseback passed just behind him.

The fielders, though, seem remarkably confused, and everyone seemed to chase the first two balls. This is a definite blooper - they seemed to be act quite sensibly during the practice sessions.

The first few overs remain quite eventful, including Smith being bowled off a Deva no-ball (see above) and Kachra's leg-breaks reduced to uselessness, since he was unwittingly asked to share the new ball.

Interestingly, Bhuvan stood at slip himself for Kachra. The only other close-in fielder, Lakha, is at forward short-leg. Oddly, there is no sight of The Specialist Fielder nearby - one would expect him to be lurking around for the main strike bowler.

Bhura comes back as first slip for Deva, and keeps on for Kachra as well. I wonder what the logic behind Bhuvan placing himself at slip for the solitary over could have been.

Lakha, meanwhile, keeps true to his word, drops Smith off Deva and misfields incessantly.


And then, a few overs later, we get the first glimpse of the scorecard: the British are 62/0, with Smith on 32 and Burton on 26. Simple arithmetic gives us a total of four extras.

Bhuvan replaces Deva, Smith glances the first ball towards fine-leg, runs for a single, is sent back by Burton, and is run out by a distance, thanks to a good throw by The Specialist Fielder.

We do actually get a perfectly valid scorecard entry!
Smith      run out (Bhura/Ishwar)    32  1/62

We see the scorecard yet again, at the end of the over. It now reads 66/1, but it doesn't show the individual scores. This means that Burton is on something between 28 and 31, and Russell is on anything between 0 and 4. Interestingly, Goli stands as the solitary slip for the over - and I kept on wondering why.

And then, it's explained: he's supposed to bowl from other end. And, keeping to the team tradition, we have ANOTHER slip fielder now - Ismail!

Goli, with his peculiar action, baffles Burton twice. There is a commotion regarding his action (which also involves Elizabeth - of course, she'd have received a 75% match fee fine or something like that these days for entering the ground). Goli is allowed to carry on, and promptly bowls Burton next ball:
Burton               b Goli        >=28 <=31 2/66

Brooks walks in. Russell helps him decipher Goli's mystery, and they keep on making merry. They show a glimpse of the scorecard at some point of time, the British 132/2, with Russell on 38 and Brooks on 32.

This means that since Russell's entry, there have been 70 runs - of which Russell has scored 38 and Brooks 32. This removes the ambiguity regarding Burton - we now know his actual score:
Burton               b Goli          28  2/66

The extras, then, remain at four, which is remarkably impressive for an amateurish side with an almost geriatric wicket-keeper.

The partnership continues to flourish: Lakha drops another catch, and so does the hard-handed Bagha. Russell's strokeplay makes Colonel Boyer utter "I don't think WG Grace could have made such confident strokes", making it possibly the only occasion when the great man was mentioned in the history of Bollywood.


This also made me wonder - could the sentence have another significance as well? Since 1888 Grace was not the cricketer he used to be. He had almost given up bowling and averaged in the 30s every season (possibly today's 40s-equivalent) till the return of his form in Summer of 1895. Would Col. Boyer have uttered the same words, had this match been pre-1888 or post-1895? I'm not even mentioning his 1870s career.


Coming back to the match, the slip fielders keep on changing as well. Deva is seen bowling with Bhuvan and Ismail in the slip at various points of time in whatever remained in the day. And then, Bhuvan surprises all and sundry by placing Guan at a widish first slip off his own bowling - the fifth slip fielder of the innings. Luckily, the high score meant that the slip was largely absent, especially for the fifth bowler, Ismail.

Play concludes (after an odd number of overs, going by the ends of the umpires) at 182/2. The scoreboard clearly shows 182/2, with Russell on 62 and Brooks on 54. Batting card at the end of day's play? Piece of cake:

Smith      run out (Bhura/Ishwar)    32  1/62
Burton               b Goli          28  2/66
*Russell   not out                   62
Brooks     not out                   54
Extras                                6
Total (for 2 wickets)               182
Bowling: O M R W
Deva     ? ? ? 0
Kachra   ? ? ? 0
Bhuvan   ? ? ? 0
Goli     ? ? ? 1
Ismail   ? ? ? 0


We all know what happened that night: Lakha got caught, and vowed to change sides.



Deva starts proceedings, and the reformed Lakha takes a stunner at point first ball off Deva. Brooks falls, and this being the first ball, my job becomes remarkably easy:
Brooks     c Lakha   b Deva          54  3/182

This brings Wesson to the crease, and starts off with a lovely cover drive. Russell and Wesson bat quite well, Bagha drops another catch, Ismail bowls without a slip yet again, and Russell sweeps someone (must be one of the spinners, possibly Ismail, since Kachra was introduced much later in the day) to reach his hundred (which was, incidentally, applauded by Elizabeth, among others). Almost at the same time, Wesson hit some wonderful strokes to reach his fifty.

At lunch the British are 271/3. 89 runs in the first session, with Russell scoring at least 38 and Brooks at least 50, so we can accommodate no or one extra.

During a conversation with Colonel Boyer, Russell mentions that he was looking for a total of around 600.


Proceedings start after lunch. Deva bowls with Bhuvan as a first slip, Wesson takes a single (at least 51 now) and then - Bhuvan brings Kachra back for what would become the turning point of the match.

Kachra bowls without a slip, the ball pitches way outside the leg-stump, turns sharply behind Wesson's legs and hits the off-stump. Mind you, he was bowling over the wicket, which makes the angle even more grotesque. The umpire raises his finger amidst all the incredible reactions, and Colonel Boyer estimates the turn to be around three feet, which is about four sets of wickets.

Kachra continues, this time to North, with Bhura as slip. North falls first ball, caught at slip, and amidst the roar, Major Warren reminds the audience that Kachra is on a hat-trick. Benson walks out, and for some mysterious reason, steps out and tries to hoick the first ball, misses it, and is stumped.

The Indians mob Kachra, and just the way this glorious game has removed all hurdles of diversity over the years, his untouchability is forgotten. The entire team hugs him, forgetting that they had refused to play with an untouchable some time back.

Ram Singh and the scoreboard concur that from 295/3, the British are now 295/6. This allows me to make the following entries:

Wesson               b Kachra      >=51  4/295
North      c Bhura   b Kachra         0  5/295
Benson     st Ishwar b Kachra         0  6/295


At this point of time, Major Cotton utters "He's done it, by George!"

Huh? George? George who? George IV was a rather insignificant ruler till 1830. The more prominent George was George V, but didn't he rule from 1910? Who knew him in 1893? It was all Victoria at that point of time,  who is this George supposed to be then?

The screenshot doesn't show him, but it's really Major Cotton who utters it


This was followed by the most interesting change of the innings. Suddenly Bhuvan decided to introduce Guran, his sixth bowler, replacing Deva, his fastest bowler, for some unfathomable reason. Not only that, when Guran bowled his first ball to Harrison, he had two slips (for the first time in the innings) - and amazingly, both were new slip fielders: Deva and Lakha. Not only that - Bhuvan places himself at short point and Bhura at forward short-leg (mind you, he was bowling round the wicket), making me wonder that if Guran is really this good a bowler, WHY WAS HE NOT BROUGHT ON EARLIER?

You're lucky your team doesn't question a lot, Bhuvan!
To add to that, the field isn't spread out after Harrison steps out and hits him for two sixes off his first two balls. Guran has his revenge, though, flighting one over Harrison's head and having him stumped. Whether this delivery was legal is questionable, but I do trust the director on this.

Guran, of course, kept on yelling non-trivial expletives at the British. It took me the first subtitled version to realise that he was saying something non-trivial (I didn't catch the Hindi after 500 or so re-runs, but here is what the subtitle says):
You Tea-drinkers! Fleabags! Boot-wearers!
Tea-drinkers? Them? Aren't we the producers of Darjeeling and Assam? This called for some research.

Apparently, prior to East India Company, tea was used in India as a medicinal herb, not as a beverage. The East India Company made Assam the largest tea-producing area in the world in the 1850s, and at that point of time, only Indians who interacted with the British knew of it as a beverage.

Nice work, then, Ashutosh. Very well-researched.


Nothing else is known about this partnership, other than the fact that Guran was bowling from the other end of Kachra (the umpires are different), so there must have been a single, whether off the bat or otherwise, to have brought Harrison to the other end.
Harrison   st Ishwar b Kachra      >=12  7/307+

This brings the incredibly ancient-looking Flynn to the crease. He skies one, and Bagha is finally able to cling on to a high catch. Since there has been a change of ends to bring Flynn to the other end, the score must have been 308. Flynn's own score remains unknown, though:
Flynn      c Bagha   b Kachra         ?  8/308+

We get another glimpse of the scorecard, then: 320/8. Bhuvan brings back his seamers: he himself bowls to Russell (with Lakha as the lone slip), and has him caught by Arjan at long-off. This is quite fitting, since these are the two people who were humiliated directly by Russell.

Deva cleans up the tail by clean bowling Yardley (with Goli at slip). The British score 322. The best possible batting scorecard that can be obtained here is somewhat like this:

Smith      run out (Bhura/Ishwar)    32  1/62
Burton               b Goli          28  2/66
*Russell   c Arjan   b Bhuvan     >=100  9/320
Brooks     c Lakha   b Deva          54  3/182
Wesson               b Kachra      >=51  4/295
North      c Bhura   b Kachra         0  5/295
Benson     st Ishwar b Kachra         0  6/295
Harrison   st Ishwar b Kachra      >=12  7/307+
Flynn      c Bagha   b Kachra         ?  8/308+
Willis     not out                 <=14
Yardley              b Deva         <=2 10/322
Extras                              >=6
Total (all out)                     322
Bowling: O M R W
Deva     ? ? ? 2
Kachra   ? ? ? 4
Bhuvan   ? ? ? 1
Goli     ? ? ? 1
Ismail   ? ? ? 0
Guran    ? ? ? 1

The highlights of the innings, of course, are the mysteriously rotated slip fielders. Here are the long-awaited screenshots:
See what I meant?
The Indians began their chase in an emphatic fashion. Bhuvan opened batting with Deva and took first strike. The first partnership was a pretty decent one: Bhuvan and Deva put up 71, Bhuvan scoring 20 and Deva 49.

One of the salient features of the innings is Burton's position when he keeps wickets. He stands incredibly close to the stumps, even for the express pace of Yardley with the new ball.

Then, with Smith (the first-change bowler, after Yardley and Willis) bowling, Bhuvan hits one straight, and the ball hits the wicket at the non-striker's end as Deva backs up too much.

This is a relatively easy entry:
Deva S S   run out (Smith)           49  1/71

Russell utters "don't forget the crease" as he walks passed Deva. This is possibly meant to be sarcasm, but I never got the humour.

Arjan walks out. This is where the director has made a DEFINITE blooper. The camera follows Arjan to the crease. He takes guard. He TAKES STRIKE. I still have hope that it's the first ball of a new over. It is Smith.

Okay, Ashutosh, this is the first directorial error you have made in this match (I'm ignoring the factual ones). Since the other Bollywood directors would have made about ten times, I forgive you.

Arjan hits three boundaries, is sledged (by Smith, who was actually present when Russell had insulted Arjan a couple of months back, and repeated the same lines), loses his cool, hits one in the air and is caught by North at deep mid-wicket. This was the last ball of the over, the batsmen cross over as they do this, and Lakha has to face the first ball of the last over of the day, to be bowled by the ominous-looking Yardley.

On Russell's instructions Yardley bowls a beamer hitting Lakha on the head; he loses balance and falls, shattering the stumps. This would possibly have earned him a serious ban today, but he gets away in 1893.

An anguished Bagha walks out, hits two incredibly strong hits for sixes, loses his cool, misses the line and is bowled next ball.

Yardley's yorker smashes Ismail's toe the next ball (he's carried off in a khatiya), and Ishwar survives the loud appeal the next ball, the last of the day.

The scorecard shows Indians 99/4 at stumps, with Bhuvan STILL, yes, STILL on 20, and Ishwar on nought. Bhuvan's inactivity makes my job a bit easier, though I'm still left with four unexplained runs.

Before I type the scorecard at the end of day's play, it might be interesting to show the position of Burton and the slips for the last three balls of the last over:
Fourth ball, bowled to Bagha

Fifth ball, bowled to Ismail

Last ball, bowled to Ishwar
The scorecard, then:

*Bhuvan   not out                    20
Deva S S  run out (Smith)            49  1/71
Arjan     c North    b Smith       >=12  2/87
Lakha     hit wicket b Yardley        0  3/87
Bagha                b Yardley       12  4/99
Ismail    retired hurt                0  at 99
+Ishwar   not out                     0
Extras                              <=6
Total     (4 wickets)                99
Bowling: O M R W
Yardley  ? ? ? 2
Willis   ? ? ? 0
Smith    ? ? ? 1


They didn't show us the beginning of the third day. The first ball they showed was a strange square-cuttish stroke from Bhuvan for a four: Major Cotton utters "that must be the first fifty in the history of Indian village cricket."

Then, somewhat amusingly, Ram Singh announces after a single that Ishwar has completed his tenth run. He takes a two and a single after that, so he moves up to twelve or more. The team score, at this point of time, is at least 143 (thirty for Bhuvan, thirteen for Ishwar, plus one run with an unknown scorer that Ishwar is seen running).

Ishwar's age catches up with him: almost two days of wicket-keeping and running between the wickets with a batsman half his age is possibly a tad too much for his fitness. Shortly, off Wesson, the fourth British bowler we get to see, Bhuvan, somewhat unwisely, calls for a third run, and a choked-for-breath Ishwar falls short of the throw from a person who is possibly Harrison.

I loved the conversation that followed:
Ishwar: Nahin daud paya, nahin daud paya (I couldn't run, couldn't run).
Bhuvan: Galti humaar thi (the fault was mine).
How many captains would acknowledge their faults like this?
+Ishwar   run out (Harrison (?))   >=13  5/145+

Guran emerges in a somewhat charged-up, violent mode. He's also shouting something really menacing, which I couldn't fathom even after thirty or so re-runs with the headphones pressed to my ears. It ended in loha bhasm ho jaye (iron is turned to ashes).

ASHES! WTF!! A reference THAT clever, THAT good? I love you, Ashutosh! Now I had to understand what he said, so I had to have a go for the subtitles. They said:
Tormentors of the weak! Beware! You shall pay! The sight of the oppressed turn iron to ashes!

My memories raced back, to another inspirational line by a cricketer in 1882. Was it intentional, a pep-up line, mentioning The Ashes? If it was, it was brilliant.

Anyway, Guran enters. To start with, he has an awesome stance, which defies the basic principle of classification of batsmen into right and left-handers. The British laughed in general, but when John Buchanan made such statements everyone seemed to take him seriously.

Guran taps the first ball he faces from Wesson in the air, then hoicks it over deep mid-wicket for a six. Russell obviously appeals, but wait - not for the wicket - but on the ground that "it's not cricket". Hello! What the hell, Russell? You could get someone out hitting the ball twice (with the second attempt made in order to score runs) since 1744, and Thomas Sueter had got out as early as 1786 in this match. Why did you not appeal, Russell?

And amidst all that, Guran keeps on batting. His style is surprisingly uncomplicated - he simply believes in hitting the ball over the bowler's shoulders, or his own, with astonishingly good results. Not only that, he yells the life out of bowlers when he's at the non-striker's end.

For me, this was definitely the most entertaining and innovative bit of the match. However, like all good things, this came to and end as Guran missed the line of an overpitched Willis delivery and fell leg before. He has hit at least one six, two fours and a single, so we put him at a minimum of 15. Ashutosh shows us the score, though: 192. A nervous Goli walks out to the centre, and is bowled first ball by Willis.
Guran     lbw        b Willis      >=15  6/192
Goli                 b Willis         0  7/192

Ismail stops Bhura and enters the ground. I knew that moment that he'd need a runner, and I was almost prepared to see Deva, when they, out of nowhere, and for no apparent purpose whatsoever, had the teenage Tipu with his locks, carrying a heavy bat and with no protective gear that a runner should adorn, walking to the crease. I wonder why this was needed at all. I wonder even more seriously why Rehman's percussionist went bonkers whenever they showed Tipu during the partnership.

The partnership was largely dominated by the bat, with some quality batting and inspired running between the wickets. The jurassic Flynn was suddenly asked to bowl right-arm superslow deliveries that were possibly supposed to be off-breaks. Ashutosh gave us moments of awe, for example, Yardley's unusual positioning of Russell just behind the wicket-keeper:

We also got to know the fact that they were 228/7 at the start of the mandatory overs. This meant that they required 95 from 20 overs at the rate of 4.75, a quite achievable task.

After some more lusty blows the scoreboard pauses to show Bhuvan on 98 and Ismail on 40. Flynn is asked to bowl at this juncture. He tosses one up so slowly that it's a miracle that it even makes to Bhuvan. The ball is duly dispatched over the bowler for a six, and the entire crowd stands up to applaud, irrespective of ethnicity.

Colonel Boyer comments, somewhat prophetically "I must say this country has a brave future in this game". Indeed. We're number one, you see, which somewhat overshadows your colourful Ashes exploits.

Ismail follows with a pull that takes him to his fifty. We get another glimpse of the scoreboard here: Indians 293/7. Bhuvan 114. Ismail 52. And then, Ram Singh shouts that we have three overs to go. This means that they have added 65 from 17 mandatory overs.

It's Willis.
Mandatory 17.1: Bhuvan cuts for a comfortable two. 28 off 17.
Mandatory 17.2: Willis steps up to bowl, Tipu leaves the crease and Willis removes the bails. This is possibly the first recorded instance of a batsman being Mankaded, especially without a warning. Colonel Boyer feels embarrassed, but the British have taken a wicket they should possibly have first issued a warning for.
Ismail    run out (Willis)           52  8/295

As Tipu and Ismail return, Ram Singh announces that the Indians now need 28 off 16. Wrong, Ashutosh. A plain and simple error. If you run out someone thus, the ball doesn't count. It should really have been 28 off 17.
Mandatory 17.3: Bhura joins Bhuvan. Bhuvan pulls for a four. 24 off 15.
Mandatory 17.4: Bhuvan cuts for a two. 22 off 14.
Mandatory 17.5: Bhuvan hits straight for a six. 16 off 13. Bhuvan and Bhura decide that they need a single.
Mandatory 17.6: Bhuvan hits to cover. Russell kicks the ball to the fence. Four runs given to Indians. In my opinion, though, it should be five - the single they ran, and the four, which should be counted as overthrows, since the kick was definitely an intentional one. I'm not too keen to give Ashutosh the benefit of doubt on this one, but still, 12 off 12.
Bhuvan has reached 130 at the end of this over. Bhura hasn't faced a ball.

Smith now.
Mandatory 18.1: Bhura hits the ball towards mid-wicket. As they cross mid-pitch, Bhuvan slips and falls. Bhura shows amazing presence of mind here by stopping next to Bhuvan. As the throw reaches a waiting Russell at the striker's end, Bhuvan stands up and starts his pursuit. Bhura pushes him aside, overtakes him and sacrifices his wicket.
Bhura     run out (?/Russell)         0  9/311
Bhura's brilliance
Had Bhura kept on running, or failed to overtake Bhuvan would surely have been out. Anyway, 12 more, off 11, but sadly, with the incoming batsman Kachra to take strike.
As Kachra walks out to bat, we witness the same spectacle once again: the entire village resting their hopes on the untouchable.
Mandatory 18.2: Bouncer (why?). Somehow negotiated. 12 off 10.
Mandatory 18.3: Bouncer (why?). Hits the ducking batsman on the back. 12 off 9.
Mandatory 18.4: Bouncer (why?). Hits the ducking batsman on the arm. 12 off 8.
Thou shalt try to york the number eleven, Smith.
Mandatory 18.5: They hit and run, and a single is somehow obtained. 11 off 7.
Mandatory 18.6: Once again, they hit and run, and a single is somehow obtained. 10 off 6.
Bhuvan is on 131. Kachra is on 1.

Yardley to bowl the last over.
Mandatory 19.1: Bhuvan hits a square cut. It pierces the field. It's a four. 6 off 5.
Mandatory 19.2: The clock strikes something, so following its precedences, Yardley bowls a bouncer (he usually bowls a beamer under such circumstances). It hits Bhuvan on his head, who somehow regains his senses and continues to bat. 6 off 4.
Mandatory 19.3: Bhuvan pulls, they attempt a second, but decide against it. This was terribly unstrategic of Bhuvabm who should definitely have tried to face all the remaining deliveries. 5 off 3.
Mandatory 19.4: Yardley pitches up (unlike Smith). There's a swing and miss. 5 off 2.
Mandatory 19.5: Yardley takes up the Smith fever, and bowls a bouncer. This isn't as bad a move as Smith's - it's the last over, after all. 5 off 1.
Mandatory 19.6: Yardley bowls a beamer, Kachra hoicks (possibly charged up by AK Hangal's shriek), and it's just a single. But then, it's a Bollywood movie - and almost inevitably Yardley had bowled a no-ball. 4 off 1.
At this point of time Russell makes that unprecedented exclamation in the history of the game: Gentlemen, we have one more ball. Back to your positions. He tries hard to send everyone back to the boundary, and still - this is what he ends up with:
North, listen to your captain for once!
Mandatory 19.6: You know it all, right? Everyone cheers, AK Hangal's face flashes, glimpses of memories, an almighty heave, Russell catches it, but outside the perimeter. 325/9, then, Bhuvan scoring 144 and Kachra 2:

*Bhuvan   not out                   144
Deva S S  run out (Smith)            49  1/71
Arjan     c North    b Smith       >=12  2/87+
Lakha     hit wicket b Yardley        0  3/87+
Bagha                b Yardley       12  4/99
Ismail    run out (Willis)           52  8/295
+Ishwar   run out (Harrison (?))   >=13  5/145+
Guran     lbw        b Willis      >=15  6/192
Goli                 b Willis         0  7/192
Bhura     run out (?/Russell)         0  9/311
Kachra    not out                     2
Extras                             <=28
Total     (for 9 wickets)           325

Bowling: O M R W
Yardley  ? ? ? 2
Willis   ? ? ? 2
Smith    ? ? ? 1
Wesson   ? ? ? 0
Flynn    ? ? ? 0

That's it, then, folks. See you a decade after Lagaan II.


  1. bapre eto boro blog!Match er eto ta critical analysis director jibone kolpona korte parbena!

  2. The backfoot no ball rule required the back foot to land behind the bowling crease, not the popping crease (hence the name "bowling crease"). So that screenshot is still a no ball. And Don Bradman didn't have to deal with bowlers bowling from a yard or two closer - a few inches at the most if the bowler had a long delivery stride.

  3. eto bhalo rokom research korecho!! bhaba jai na!!eta director ke send kore dao!!

  4. >> This is possibly the first recorded instance of a batsman being Mankaded,

    In the first episode of the Bodyline TV series, they had slipped in a nice bit. As the school captain, Jardine gets his bowler to Mankad the non-striker. There is consternation all around. Lord Harris matching tells his neighbours that it is nothing new, it happened in the Oxford-Cambridge match in some year (1870s), and that he (Harris) was the captain who got it done.

    Harris was right, and from a list seen somewhere, that was the second instance of M in first class cricket.

    Btw, the Indian side used a bat made of a single piece of wood. They would have needed to use the magic spray every other ball.

  5. >>>Huh? George? George who? George IV was a rather insignificant ruler till 1830. The more prominent George was George V, but didn't he rule from 1910? Who knew him in 1893? It was all Victoria at that point of time, who is this George supposed to be then?>>>

    The exclamation refers to St. George, the patron saint of England. Incidentally there is a sculpture of St George slaying the dragon not far from Lord's - although I think it's a postwar statue.

  6. I am certain that Lagaan's director never analysed the situation as closely as you did, and your exonerating him and complimenting him is entirely luck on his part :).

    What a detailed analysis!

    1. Actually, the director and his team spent considerable time painstakingly planning every single ball in the match. Ref: Satyajit Bhatkal's The Spirit of Lagaan. It's hard to get _that_ lucky :)

  7. Lovely.

    I am gonna send this article to Mr. Aamir Khan and Mr. Ashutosh Goarikar.

    (ebaar plz barir kaaj-e mon dey :-S)

  8. Literlly, epic. Anupam Basu is right about "By George", btw, but I'd like further research on the second oldest no-ball rule.

    Aar best part holo eita:
    "...and since the movie wasn't in Bengali, Aamir and team surely wasn't inviting everyone to an orgy." Durdhorsho.

  9. Buddy is right! This really should be sent, if possible, to Ashutosh and Aamir! This is possibly the best rational analysis of such a high-profile bollywood flick! what a subtle post! you should be awarded for such a nitty-gritty. Thank you for the post.

  10. Ovshake,

    A very entertaining read. Agree with all other comments about the very very very detailed analysis.

    I laughed myself out of the chair with the bangla reference for the name of the movie. And stayed on the floor for most part of the blog.

    My two cents

    Cent 1: Crediting the director/story-writer with a couple of subtle references may not be deserved

    Cent 2: Don't think Bradman had to face the balls from a yard or two closer unless the bowler is extremely tall and nimble who can cover over a meter with each step. Though he had to face it with much less gear

    Have more cents but would probably need them for other posts from your blog :)

  11. Bapre Baaap!!!!!

    Thesis likhe phelechhish..ebaar submit kore de....

  12. 1- Told u, u were always in the wrong profession
    2. Cricinfo is the website you should show this to.
    3. May be a career in movie direction !

  13. Tomar Research work ta byapok kintu lekhata lengthy. Ato time pao ki kore!!!! :)

  14. সবই ঠিকঠাক শুধু একটু নেভিল কার্ডাস স্টাইল হলে হত, পরিবেশ, দর্শক, এদের ইগনোর করা কি ঠিক হল।

    just kidding, super.

  15. Read it finally.. will try to read again after re-watching Lagaan ...I have a knack for nitpicking the discontinuity of shots and you too have wrote about some...

    Anyway I must say, WHAT THE HECK OF AN EFFORT !!!!! UFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    good observations made, with detailed depictions boring at times though..
    And didn't Guran utter -" Jai Bajrang Bali, Tor dushman ki nali" ?( will confirm later)

    Mention of Goli's u-wont-get-when-the-ball-will-be-released bowling style is a relief to me because in the past I really used to make fun of it and not many used respond as much as I wanted them to. Now we, u and me, are on the same side I guess..:D

    Again I am saying, vivid intimate commentary( analysis at times) is what u've done...a good one...but lengthy enough not to make uninterested readers interested.

  16. Anonymous: Thanks for the information on the Mankaded bit - I'm still open for arguments on the no-ball issue.

    Anupam and Rimi: Thanks on George.

    Arjun: Guran uttered a lot of sentences (IMHO he had the best lines in the movie) including the one you mentioned.

  17. Anonymous: Just checked - - Lord Harris had played in three Oxbridge matches, but never led Oxford in any of them.

    Four Cambridge batsmen were run out in those matches, though.

  18. দারুন রিসার্চ। যে পরিশ্রম আর নিষ্ঠা লাগে এরঅকম একটা লিখতে, সেটা দেখে শেখার মত।
    আর তোর নিজস্ব অননুকরণীয় কৌতুকবোধ নিয়ে নতুন কিছু বলার নেই বোধহয়।

    তবে ব্যাক্তিগত ভাবে আমার এটা খুব একটা ভাল লাগেনি। মানে বিষয়টা। শেষ আবধি এটা একটা চমকপ্রদ, অসাধারণ লেখা হল ঠিক কথা - কিন্তু পড়ার পরে চমক ছাড়া আর কিছুর রেশ রইন না যে? একজন পাঠক হিসেবে আমি তোর লেখার থেকে এর থেকে অনেক বেশি আশা করি, আরো আনেক গভীর অনুভব-সমৃদ্ধ বিষয়। timepass এর লেখা নয়, সে যত মুন্সিয়ানা নিয়েই লেখা হক না কেন। এত বড় একটা লেখা পড়ার জন্য এতটা সময় দেওয়া - সেই অনুপাতে আনন্দ পেলাম না। হয়ত ক্রিকেটপ্রেমীদের কাছে এটার একটা আলাদা মাত্রা আছে যেটা আমি মিস করলাম। তবে আমার ধারনা এই সময় ও পরিশ্রম দিয়ে তুই এর চেয়ে আরো অনেক ভাল কিছু লিখতে পারতিস।

    লিখে যা। আরো। :)

  19. Abhishek da...ami swaralipi di r colleague...
    its a very very nice blog, quite capturing 1, one shotei ses korte icha hy....
    excellent research, and awesome expert analysis, never thought abt this match in such cricketing detail....its a pretty innovative idea to write this match report

    U hv an excellent speedy n narrative style of presentation...keep it up

    jst 1ta point i think tumi miss korecho...
    Yardly, being the spearhead of english attack, armed with such well directed beamers, how could he provide such a juicy, comfortably short and reasonably wide delivery (m refering to the last delivery, aft the no ball)at such a crucial stage of the match ?? !!

  20. kotobar ei jaega-gulo dekhechho setai Bhabchhi!! utsaho achhe mantei hobe... chomotkar likhechho... and tomar Sense of humor-ta besh bhalo... Lagaan shune school-e amader-o prothome panu-i mone hoyechhilo!! :-P

  21. What a detailed analysis...Ashutosh probably er 1/4th bhabeni script lekha time.. porte porte aami sob scene visualise korte parchilam n thanks to your added comments the whole reading became much more entertaining :)

  22. Great stuff mate.. Was any player from either team a left-hand batsman or a left-arm bowler? Methinks no.

  23. This is an uncalculable service to the Bollywood and Sporting communites alike!

  24. Brother well research but slight mistake. Ishwar was the wicketkeeper and instead u mentioned ismaail as the keeper at two instances in the indian scorecard.

  25. Harrisons was bowled by Guran not Kacara. Kacara took 4 wickets, not 5.

  26. Brilliant blog, enjoyed it thoroughly and have created 2 Lagaan teams in my bradman cricket PS3 game. Your blog was a gr8 help in creating the 2 teams, thanks again! -Shashi Punjabi

  27. "He's done it by George" -
    The George should be Saint George - He is the Patron Saint of England.

  28. Well written... just a single thing that you missed at 19.6 when 5 runs were needed in 1 ball, a no ball was bowled and single was taken, which brought Bhuvan on strike thus he needed just 3 off the last bowl. Which also makes total tally to 326 instead of 325.

  29. From the first innings scorecards: it would have been- Harrison st Ishwar b Guran (not Kachra)