India has lacked fast bowlers, something we envy our neighbors of. We remember Kapil Dev, Zaheer Khan, acknowledge Jasprit Bumrah but often forgets the Mysore Express, Javagal Srinath.
Srinath was what we call a true pace bowler. He was the fastest Indian bowler to date. The top-notch he recorded was 157 kmph. Srinath was a natural in swinging fast bowler whose action and run-up used to deceive batsmen into thinking he was a medium pace bowler, however his shoulder produced that extra pace that stunned the batsmen and made Srinath India’s highest wicket-taker in ODI among the pacers.
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Here is a story of a boy from Mysore, who loved his education and dreamt of going to the US for the job to end up being in MRF pace foundation, and India’s highest wicket-taker in World cups along with Zaheer Khan.
Birth and Debut
Srinath was born on 31st August 1969 in Javagal, Karnataka. Similar to fellow cricketers from Karnataka, Srinath was attracted to cricket from an early age as well as enjoyed his education.
Srinath graduated with an engineer’s degree and caught the eye of Indian batsmen Gundappa Viswanath, who was a selector for the state team back then. This was the beginning of Srinath’s first-class career.
He was super impressive in his debut picking up a hat-trick against Hyderabad, and he was ruling first-class cricket. He took 500 first-class wickets playing for Karnataka.
It was in 1987 when MRF announced they have opened a pace foundation in Chennai, It is the same place where Sachin and Ganguly also applied and were rejected. However, Srinath was selected and groomed into one finer pacer which India was looking for.
In 1990, Srinath was selected as a net bowler, and when he came to bowl to senior batsmen, they were all left stunned by the pace of the 21-year-old. Since then, it was been no looking back for Javagal.
Srinath made his ODI debut against Pakistan on 18th October 1991. He picked up a single wicket but stunned the world and Kapil Dev himself with his scintillating pace. He also earned himself a place in the 1992 World Cup squad.
Soon after the ODI debut Javagal debut in test cricket against the Aussies on 29th November 1991. Srinath took 3 wickets in the test. His test career was such that he was picked in the team only for overseas tours and dropped in Indian tours due to spin-friendly pitches.
It was in 1994 when Kapil Dev retired that Srinath earned a proper spot in the test side.
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Peak, Injury, and World Cup
Srinath turned into India’s lead bowler and he was the fasted bowler in the world just behind Shoaib Akhtar. Srinath over the years became India’s first bowler to pick 300 wickets in ODI. He is also the highest wicket-taking fast bowler for India in ODI’s and overall, the second-highest wicket-taker for India.
Speed guns were introduced in 1996 for each delivery. And on 27th January 1997, Srinath clocked 157kmph a record still not broken by an Indian. His great fortune was struck by an injury. He injured his right shoulder’s rotator cuff. It was a really bad injury due to the workload, also the shoulder was his main weapon.
Many believed it was a decline of Srinath’s career and pace, it was partially true. Srinath continued and continued strong, he played 2 more World Cups the 1999 edition and the 2003 edition. Becoming the fast bowler with most world cup appearances for India. He is also the joint highest wicket-taker for India along with Zaheer Khan in the world cups with 44 wickets.
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Post-2000, India saw a good number of pace bowlers coming to the side, With the incoming of Zaheer, Ajit Agarkar, and Ashish Nehra, Srinath’s match time was reduced. Srinath decided to retire before the 2003 World Cup due to the injury he got in 1997, however, on request of Sourav Ganguly, Srinath played and took 18 wickets in 7 matches and helped India reach the finals. Post the World Cup Srinath retired from all forms of cricket.
In April 2006, Srinath was appointed as a match referee by ICC and he to date has refereed in 35 tests, 194 ODI’s, and 60 T20I’s.
List A Career
5 Wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Achievements And Honours
· Arjuna Award 1999
· Highest number of wickets in World Cups by an Indian bowler
· Highest number of wickets in ODIs among Indian fast bowlers
· Second Indian to take 300 ODI wickets
· One of 11 bowlers who have taken more than 300 ODI wickets