Nayan Mongia - The Quintessential Wicket Keeper
B.V.Swagath sat out with one of the best wicket keepers ever seen in Indian cricket, Nayan Mongia on December 5th 2004. Two weeks later Mongia announced his retirement.
In Picture: B.V.Swagath with Nayan Mongia. BVS :: Nayan Mongia your wicket keeping has always been rated very highly.infact you were rated as a better keeper than the great Ian Healy; so what really has been your success story? Do tell us about your initial footsteps into Cricket. Mongia :: I think it probably involved quality and hard work, which I put in my keeping as well as batting. That is the main reason. Regarding my entry into cricket, I have always wanted to play cricket and I always wanted to play for India. But I started as a fast bowler, so once in an Under 12 game; our keeper didn't turn up, so I started keeping just for fun. My coach that time was Mr. D.K.Gaekwad, Anshuman Gaekwad's father. He said, "Why don't you keep you have natural reflexes and a natural gathering". So since then I started keeping and basically I started to enjoy keeping and basically I have been enjoying wicket keeping since that day. BVS :: Many wicket keepers are short. Any reasons you think for this? Mongia :: Not really. Probably it's much easier for a shorter wicket keeper to keep than the taller guys because of the height. The movement is slow for tall people and for shorter people their natural movements are quick. BVS :: Your Test Match debut was against Lanka in 1993/94 at Lucknow and you had a perfect start to your career with a 55 ball 44 and then you took 4 catches and 1 stumping. Can you talk us through that special match of your life? Mongia :: Yeah it was a great match for me. I think I had a lot of butterflies in my tummy at that time playing my first test match of my career. It was a good Sri Lankan team that time. I got to keep against the spin trio of Kumble, Raju and Chauhan and that was a great experience. I remember Anil just ran through the Lankan batting in both the innings. That was a great match for us and we won by a huge margin. BVS :: Your maiden hundred, 152 to be precise came against the Aussies at the Ferozeshah Kotla in 96/97. How do you rate that innings? Mongia :: I think that was one of the best innings I ever played. I have played quiet a lot of good knocks opening the batting or batting at no.3, but this one was a very special innings for me. And that was really special because I got the Man of the Match and you know wicket keepers rarely get MOM award. Plus I also got 5 victims in that test match and affected the best stumping of my life that of Ian Healy of Anil's bowling. BVS :: Which has been the most memorable Test Match and ODI played by you? Mongia :: I think West Indies test match, 1994 when we played at the Wankhede Stadium, Bombay. We were struggling at 99/5 after winning the toss. Manjrekar and myself had a good partnership and brought India back to a good position. I had got 80 that time. Manjrekar was making a comeback in the Indian team that time. Although I got out for a duck in the 2nd innings, I was happy that my first innings 80 was crucial in India's win in that test match.
Most memorable ODI, I think it has to be the Singer Akai Nidahas Trophy finals in 1998. We scored 307 and still the Lankans were chasing that score comfortably. I took a brilliant catch to get rid of Arjuna Ranatunga who was going berserk against our bowling. Ajit Agarkar was the bowler. That catch actually changed the whole complexion of the game. It was a tight finish towards the end as we won that match and the trophy by just 6 runs. BVS :: Who has been the most difficult bowler to keep wickets? Mongia :: Naturally Anil is the most difficult bowler to keep wickets especially in the sub continent. The wickets in general have uneven bounce. He was quiet sharp and quick in the air and off the pitch when I was playing. BVS :: So what were your tactics while keeping to 'Jumbo' Anil Kumble? Did you work on the tactics with the Indian team coach or was it on your own? Mongia :: I think most important benefit keeping to Anil was that he was very accurate. He was hardly bowling outside offstump or legstump and when he used to bowl, I used to read or judge whether he was bowling outside off or leg. That was my biggest advantage. Tactics yes, not really with the coach but the more you keep to a bowler, the more you know what he bowls. You have to read the bowler's mind and I also use to judge the batsman. I used to judge when the batsman is going to step out or not out. When you are concentrating well you can definitely read the batsman's intentions and also the game very well. BVS :: Ok Nayan, so much about your wicket keeping now you have also opened the batting for India and have faced fearsome fast bowlers like Allan Donald and others. So tell me which bowler/bowlers have been the most difficult to tackle? Mongia :: I think Wasim Akram and Courtney Walsh because they never used to bowl at the same speeds and had lot of variety in what they used to bowl. BVS :: Do you have a quick comment to make on the wicket keeping abilities of Parthiv Patel, MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthick ? Mongia :: No I don't want to comment, I haven't seen them. BVS :: Okay, now let's focus on the Ranji Trophy and Baroda were the champs in 2001. For the fans of Cricket can you just talk about Baroda's win in that season in brief? Mongia :: Yeah. I think it was a great victory for us. I always had a dream that I had to finish my cricketing career by winning the Ranji Trophy for Baroda. Luckily that came in 2001 and we were very happy and the whole team performed at the right time and at the right moment. All the players used to contribute that was the great advantage we had that season. Whenever we wanted a wicket somebody used to take, whenever we wanted runs, somebody used to come and take up the mantle at the right time. That was the great thing that happened to us then and that is basically the reason why we won the Ranji Trophy that season. BVS :: Can you tell us about the "AIGO" that used to come out of your mouth every now and then when you are keeping to the spinners in particular? Today you see even kids shouting aigo aigo. Mongia :: To be frank even till now I don't know how Aigo started. It just started spontaneously. Yeah I am happy that atleast something has been taken from my side. BVS :: Any basics you want to give to the budding wicket keepers? Mongia :: I think Physical fitness is the most important thing if you want to become a good keeper. If you are fit enough you can concentrate for 6 hours. Keepers' job is a tough job and is definitely a thankless job. You have to concentrate for long duration of time and have to collect all the balls. BVS :: So how do you look at this season for Baroda and also how do you look at this season in a personal point of view? Mongia :: Baroda, I think we are struggling right now. We had two decent games against Assam and Maharashtra then we lost to Punjab and now we are struggling again against Hyderabad. But personal point of view... may be this could be my last season if I don't get the opportunity of playing for India again. BVS :: So what does the future hold for Nayan Mongia? Mongia :: Nothing. I haven't given a thought about it much but whenever I feel that I am not enjoying the game and I don't get a chance of playing again for the country I would say thank you to cricket. This feeling has started to come in for sometime and I have to review this decision after the end of this season. BVS :: You coached Thailand in the ACC Trophy. Is that a hint for what you are planning to do in the near future? Mongia :: Not really. Well it was an off-season for me, there was nothing much happening with the rains and Thailand Cricket Association had invited me for a short coaching stint for that tournament. It was just for 6-8 weeks and I went ahead with the proposal, as I had never been to that part of the world. BVS :: Thanks Nayan Mongia for your time. Mongia :: Pleasure's mine.
B.V.Swagath writes from Hyderabad, India. He contributes regularly for major online Cricket publications including Cricketfundas.com. eMail BVS.
Harbhajan Singh Memorabilia
Singh's Magnificent Hat Trick
On the 1st Day of the 2nd Test, India versus Australia, in March 2001, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Harbhajan Singh achieved what no other Indian cricketer had ever done - he snared a magnificent Hat Trick.
Limited Edition Magnificent photographic collage of the three dismissals with the hat trick at Calcutta capturing photograph in each piece being personally signed by Harbhajan Singh. Each piece .encased in a timber frame with Perspex glazing and is supported by A-Tag microchip authentication technology, and comes complete with a Certificate of Authenticity.
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