In reply to Amanora Stars 301 for five in the semi-finals of the Mandke Shield tournament,Club of Maharashtra were all out for 128. What is Amanoras first-innings lead? This third-standard subtraction problem is a tricky question. The answer isnt 173. Its 198. How? Read on.
After a twelve-year hibernation,the PYC Hindu Gymkhana has restored the Mandke Shield to Punes cricket calendar. Apart from making the citys top club sides run for their calculators,the return of this one-of-a-kind limited-overs tournament has also awakened memories of the patron saint of Pune cricket,Prof. DB Deodhar,who was responsible for first staging this tournament,back in the early 1950s.
For the first few seasons,it was of one-and-a-half day duration,but it wasnt limited-overs, says Kulkarni. There was no result in most of the matches,so Deodhar modified it,and converted it into limited-overs sometime around 1955.
The first ever one-day international was a decade and a half away,and the limited-overs game was yet to take root at domestic level. Even if other club-level competitions existed at the time,they were unlikely to have inspired Deodhar. His creation,therefore,had no predecessors to draw from.
The format that emerged seems to have been Deodhars unique answer to a question that continues to vex cricket administrators even today how do you compress the nuance and complexity of long-duration cricket into a limited-overs structure?
And so,three features came to define the tournament. The matches featured two innings for each side one of 40 overs,other of 20. Teams were docked five runs for each wicket they lost (providing the caveat for our trick question). And the overs consisted of eight balls (as in Australia) and not six. Not much has changed since then. The only feature the tournament has imported from ODIs is the 30-yard circle,to prevent overly defensive fields. There have to be four fielders inside the circle at all times. That’s the only major modification, says Kulkarni. Apart from that,we havent changed much. No free hits,no powerplays.
The format places unique demands on the players. For one,matches echoing the old cliché aren’t over till they are over. Even if a team has gone past the fourth-innings target,they will need to bat on for the remaining overs,since a wicket could bring the fielding side back into the game.