A Cricketer from Hyderabad Abbas Ali Baig Caught up in Hindu Muslim Rivalry.
Hindu Muslim rivalry goes back to the 7th century when Muhammad Qasim defeated the Hindu King of Sindh Raja Dahir. Over the centuries it led to the 2 nation theory and breakup of India. Hyderabad was one of the bastions of the Muslims in south India and was ruled by the Nizam. Many Muslims settled in Hyderabad as they felt safe with the NIzam as the ruler.
A product of the Muslim population of Hyderabad was a right hand batsman named Abbas Ali Baig. He belonged to an aristocratic family and was sent to study at Oxford. He played cricket for the university and Indians began to take notice of him.. The 1959 Indian tour was a godsend for him. The Indian team performed poorly and lost the first 3 tests matches on the trop. Worse the senior Indian batsman Vijay Manjrekar was incapacitated with a knee injury and had to go back home. There was a urgent need for another player. The selectors opted for Baig as he was already in England.
Baig played in the 4th test at the Oval and promptly made a mark with a grand 112, before being run out. he played the fast bowlers including Fred Truman with aplomb. India lost the test but Indian's consoled themselves that a new star had emerged. Unfortunately the Pakistan team was slated to tour India in 1961. This tour proved to be a turning point for Baig. He failed in the first three tests and scores of 1, 13, 19,1. did no justice to his talent.
The Indian public was incensed as many felt that Baig got himself out purposely to his co-religionists. This was a canard, but Baig began to receive hate mail from all over India. The selection committee were also bombarded with letters and mails asking them to drop Baig as he was a " Muslim sympathiser". Poor Baig was under pressure and this told on him in the second innings of the Calcutta Test ( 3rd Test) when he was out to a stupid shot for 1. Earlier also at Kanpur he had got out to a rank bad shot.The atmosphere was now charged and the selectors had no option but to drop Baig.
This in fact was the end of Baig. He played just about 4 test matches after this and faded away. Great injustice was done to a talented player. Unfortunately failure against Pakistan was the bane and poor Baig had to pay the price of Hindu Muslim rivalry.
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