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Happy Birthday WV Raman: From An Impressive Test Debut, India's First ODI Hundred In South Africa To A Successful Coach

WV Raman (Image: BCCI)

WV Raman (Image: BCCI)

WV Raman had a fine Test debut against the West Indies, was the first Indian to record an ODI hundred in South Africa and post his playing days has been a high impact coach with successful stints with Tamil Nadu, Bengal, KKR and finally the Women's Senior National Team.

WV Raman has been in the news lately albeit for all the wrong reasons. He was unceremoniously sacked as the coach of the Indian Women’s Team even after leading them to the final of the World T20 in Australia last year. Raman then sent off a letter to the BCCI President Sourav Ganguly in which he expressed his concerns about the ‘Prima Donna’ Culture that exists in the women’s team. But there is more to Raman than what we have read and heard in the last few years. On his 56th birthday today on the 23rd of May, we look at Raman - the cricketer and the various other roles he adopted post his retirement from the game.

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A Fine Debut At Home Against the West Indies & The Season of 1988-89

Raman, batting at number 3, top-scored for India in the second innings of what was his Test debut against a formidable West Indian attack comprising the likes of Courtney Walsh, Patrick Patterson and Winston Davis. It also happened to be the debut of a certain Narendra Hirwani. The leg spinner returned with 16 wickets in the match to earn India a famous victory in Chennai thereby drawing the series 1-1.

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Raman had played his part even as other Indian stalwarts had failed around him. He also picked the wicket of Walsh in the match with his slow left-arm orthodox.

Raman was in fine form in the 1988-89 season and recorded a triple hundred - a magnificent 313 off 411 deliveries against Goa in the Ranji Trophy in Panaji in 1989 and registered two more double hundreds to finish the season with 1018 runs overhauling Rusi Modi’s 44-year old record for the most runs in a season.

The 1990 Tour of New Zealand & The First Hundred In South Africa

Raman had a good tour of New Zealand in 1990. He top-scored for India in the second innings of the series opener at Christchurch scoring a fighting 96 against the likes of Richard Hadlee and Danny Morrison with India following on - this was his highest score in Test cricket. He then remained unbeaten on 72 in the third Test at Eden Park in Auckland.

Raman produced two high impact performances in ODI cricket too. He anchored the Indian innings with a fine 95 batting at number three in the fourth ODI against the West Indies in Rajkot in 1988. But his standout performance came against South Africa at the Centurion in 1992 where he once again anchored the Indian chase scoring 114 off 148 deliveries even as wickets tumbled at the other end. Raman took India to a rare four-wicket win in South Africa as they chased down the 215-run target with five balls to spare.

It was the first hundred in ODI cricket by an Indian in South Africa and remained so till 9 years before Sourav Ganguly recorded a hundred in Johannesburg in 2001.

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An Unfulfilled International Career

Raman could not reach his full potential in international cricket for India. He scored just 448 runs in 11 Tests at an average of 24.88 with four fifties. He aggregated 617 runs in 27 ODIs at an average of 23.73 with one solitary hundred and three fifties.

Raman had an aggregate of 7939 runs in 132 first-class matches at an average of 45.62 with 19 hundreds.

Successful Stint As Coach of Tamil Nadu and Bengal

Raman was appointed coach of the Tamil Nadu team in 2006. He mentored the team to the semi-final of the Ranji Trophy in 2008-09 and also to victory in the Vijay Hazare Trophy beating Bengal in the final the same season.

Raman then took over the mantle as the Coach of Bengal in 2010 and immediately tasted success. The State won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in 2010-11 which was their first major championship win at the senior level in 21 years. They also won the 2011-12 Vijay Hazare Trophy under the guidance of Raman.

Stint With Kings XI & More Success With KKR

Raman was named the Assistant Coach of Punjab Kings in 2013 - however, the franchise had a mixed year winning 8 and losing as many matches failing to qualify for the playoffs.

In 2014, Raman was appointed as the Batting Coach of the Knight Riders and as it panned out KKR went on to win the title that season.

He was then selected by the BCCI in the coaching panel as the batting coach at the prestigious National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.

India Women Reached The Final of the 2020 WT20 Under Raman

The Indian Women had a great run under Raman in ODI cricket winning four successive bilateral series. India beat New Zealand 2-1 in an away series in January 2019 before overpowering the fancied English team at home in February. India then defeated South Africa 3-0 sweeping the home series in October before again recording a 2-1 win in the Caribbean against the West Indies next month.

It was a mixed bag in the T20Is. After suffering crushing defeats away in New Zealand and at home against England (both 0-3), India came back to defeat South Africa 3-1 in a home series in September 2019. Their biggest triumph came in the Caribbean when they swept the series 5-0.

However, Raman’s most significant achievement as Head Coach was to lead India to the final of the World T20 in Australia in early 2020 eventually going down to the hosts at the MCG.

With no international cricket for the Women’s cricket team for a year due to the surging Covid-19 pandemic, the side was rusty and suffered a double blow when cricket resumed (2-1 loss in the T20I series and 4-1 in the ODI series) at home in March 2021 against South Africa. This led to the end of Raman’s tenure as Head Coach of the National Women’s Team and he was replaced by Ramesh Powar.

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