With cricket, IPL and India’s tour of Australia in the offing, and hardly any cricketer from Hyderabad figuring in the action, my thoughts went back to old times, and one name that immediately struck me was Khalid Abdul Qayyum.
The diminutive, left-hander, was one of the promising cricketers from the city to come close, yet remain so far, from donning the Indian cap in the 1980s.
With a brilliant record in domestic cricket, Khalid, one of the bright crop of cricketers from Nizam College, which produced, test stars like Ghulam Ahmed, M L Jaisimha and Mohammad Azharuddin, got a golden opportunity in the 1983 South Zone Vs West Indies match at the Lal Bahadur Stadium.
It was an electrifying atmosphere with the stadium jam packed and the West Indian pace battery of Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshal, Roger Harper and Larry Gomes hurling down playable stuff.
“Boss, woh thez Gole ka bilkul samajh nahi aaya,” was what I remember, Khalid Abdul Qayyum narrating to us friends, after facing the barrage of rocket speed bowling from West Indian greats. The WI team had a great batting line up of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards, Kalicharan etc. under Clive Lloyd Captaincy.
The 23 year old, left handed stylish but a run gatherer than swashbuckling, Khalid was facing his best opportunity to make it into the Indian test team. There was a slot for a solid no 3, especially a left handed in the mould of Ajit Wadekar. Khalid had an excellent run in the domestic season and all eyes were on his performance.
In hindsight, Khalid was extremely unfortunate to face the ‘Revenge Tour’, as it came to be known with the West Indian team led by the great Clive Lloyd. India, under Kapil’s Devils had beaten the mighty Windies at Lords in 1983, to pull of the most sensational victory in World Cup.
Unable to digest the defeat, the WI team came to India to play six tests, five ODIs and zonal matches. With precision. Lloyd’s men nearly butchered India in the ODIs, Tests etc. Though, Indian team put up some fight in some matches with Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Kapil etc and the spinners like Venkataraghavan.
After the WI rattled off 350 plus with a century by Richards, the South Zone team struggled to make 175. Khalid, after a series of hits and misses and bouncers and swinging deliveries bearing him was run out for 14. To his misfortune, Khalid was disappointed when wicket keeper, Sadanand Viswanath, missed a possible stumping chance of Viv Richards of a soft delivery from Khalid, as my good friend and talented cricketer, a fellow Nizamian, Imtiaz Mohammed recollected.
If only Khalid had scored half a century or perhaps dismissed Viv, the story of our friend would have been different. His weakness for the fast deliveries outside the off stump, in a way did him in in the match. However, he is among the half a dozen great, talented cricketers from Hyderabad who possibly missed, making it to the India cap. Among them being Shahid Akbar (Nizam’s), Abdul Azeem, Vijay Mohanraj, Kanwaljeet Singh ( Nizams), Saad Bin Jung ( Nizam’s) and Dr M V Sridhar ( Gandhi Medical College) etc.
Khalid at Nizam’s
Khalid was my senior at College. The short statured chap was very friendly and a huge talent. His promising career began very early in School games from All Saints. He consistently performed in the School tournaments, Rohinton Baria and inter-college and claimed his rightful place in the Hyderabad Ranji team.
During the phase of 1975-85, Nizam College had its golden era in cricket with some of the best talent. Khalid led Nizam’s in 1978-80 had Faiz Baig, Sitaram Reddi, Santosh, Naveed, Imran Mehmood, Kiran Kumar Reddy, Ananth Reddy, Khursheed, Vivek Jaisimha etc.
Khalid, who did his B Com (1977-80), was soft spoken and always helpful to team mates and friends interested in cricket. It so happened that in the College bulletin called ‘Rapport’, edited by Divakar Kaza and Me, we had carried a report on how the College Women’s cricket team had done creditably in a short time in league matches. We had forgotten the role of Khalid, who hesitatingly reminded us. In the next issue we promptly said “Our cricket captain and star, Khalid Bhai was the man behind getting the women’s cricket team together and success.
Khalid was also a good athlete and sprinter. “I was the athletics captain and Khalid was a sprinter in the team. I fondly recollect both of us receiving the highest number of medals in the annual sports day,” says Collin Noronha.
He made waves with his ‘bold’ marriage in the late 1980’s too. He left the SBI, which employed him and which he represented in league games in the early 1990’s to migrate to the US and settled.
Khalid went on to represent Hyderabad Ranji team till 1990. He was an important member of the Hyderabad team which won the Ranji Trophy (it’s second time after 1937-38) in 1987, under the leadership of M V Narasimha Rao ( Bobjee). Abdul Azeem, Mohanraj, Arshad Ayub, Shivlal, Vivek Jaisimha etc. were the other key players instrumental in the memorable win. Sadly, Hyderabad has not won again thereafter. In a first class career of 15 years, he played 67 matches for Hyderabad and scored 3368 runs at an average of 40 and highest score of 203.
Post his cricketing career, Khalid migrated to the US and is now settled in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been coming to Hyderabad and during one of his visits, I had a chance to meet him and reminisce old times.
Cricket, continues to be his passion. Khalid expressed interest in serving Hyderabad Cricket which has hit rock bottom. Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin is at the helm of Affairs at the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA).
A few years ago, Narasimha Rao, who did a marvellous job of coaching a national cricket team in Ireland, where he settled down, also tried his hand to revive the fortunes of Hyderabad cricket.
Khalid is involved in some coaching in Atlanta.
Hyderabad Cricket is desperately yearning for some revival and looks to veteran cricketers for some help, drastic cut in internal politics and egos.
Somasekhar Mulugu, former Associate Editor & Chief of Bureau of The Hindu BusinessLine, is a well-known political, business and science writer and analyst based in Hyderabad