Lala Amarnath

On the way home, Tawakkal Majid saw some boys playing in the street. One of them unleashed a sublime cover drive. He asked him to play it again, and he did. The boy was Lala Amarnath. Majid said:’Take me to your family.’ They turned out to be very poor people. Mr. Majid offered to take him into his house. Lala’s family was delighted. When Amarnath stayed at Majid’s home, Tawakkal’s father had installed electricity one of the first Lahorities to do so. Even though they were bringing up a Hindu, they never once urged him to convert. Amarnath started playing for Crescent, Majid family club. Crescent was the team of middle-class Lahorities. Mamdot a typical feudal club established by Nawab Shahnawaz Khan was its biggest rival. Mamdot Club produced outstanding cricketers like Jahangir Khan, Mohammad Nisar, A Kardar, Fazal Mahmood, and Nazar Mohammad. The battle between Mamdot and Crescent reflected the contests between Government and Islamia college. Lala dominated Lahore’s cricket to such an extent that other clubs were scared of him. On the eve of one such contest at Bagh-e-Jinnah, Mamdot planned to injured Amarnath with the help of thugs Crescent got the information and provided a bodyguard. Amarnath scored a classy 50 against the like Nissar, the fastest bowler of the era, and helped Crescent win the final. Lala Amarnath started working in a railway workshop in Lahore on a daily wage of half a rupee.

His popularity kept on increasing; Frank Tarrant, the then coach for Maharajah of Patiala, saw Amarnath play and introduced him to a better (economically) world of cricket.1952 Indo-Pak series was historic not only for being the first series but the captains Lala and Kardar born and brought up in a similar Lahorite cricketing culture. Lala was a daring captain; during one such move, he declared with India only 201 runs ahead against Pakistan. The decision turned out to be terrific as India dismissed Nazar Mohammad very early, India went on to win this match by ten wickets. He was the first Indian to score a test century. As a bowler, he is the only one to dismiss Bradman hit wicket. Even after partition, Lala remains the most famous cricketer across the border. In the 1978 tour of Pakistan, Lala was invited as a commentator; he received a hero’s welcome on his return to his native city. Pakistani’s love and emotions can be gauged by the fact that while a large Mercedes met ‘Lal Sahab’ at the airport whereas Maharajah of Baroda traveled by bus. Lala will always be remembered as one of the most romantic figures in Indian cricket history.

By Staff

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