Raju Kulkarni-The Unheralded Quickster of Mumbai Ranji Team

The most worrying case in India is that unlike foreign countries where even county and domestic cricketers are held in high regards, in India only the ones who manage to play for the National team manage to get the attention and the stardom.

Little do we know that it takes equal amount of hardwork, lots of competition and years of dedication to even make it into a state level team which is also an achievement in its own. In a series of articles highlighting the stars of domestic cricket, we take a look at Raju Kulkarni.- the man who made his 1st class debut in 1982/83 for Mumbai and then went on to represent India in Tests & ODI’s.

Even though, Raju Kulkarni was not a bulky fast bowler we usually associate with but he was a genuine tearway when he was at his peak. Raju Kulkarni also had a peculiar bowling action with his head lunging sideways while releasing the delivery. In the latter part of his career he cut down on his pace and started swinging the ball too.

Raju Kulkarni went on to become the pace spearhead for Mumbai where his first class career lasted for 18 years helping Mumbai achieve numerous victories. One of his most remarkable bowling spells out of many was the 8/111 he took for Mumbai vs Delhi in the all important semi-finals of Ranji which changed the game for Mumbai (Bombay). Raju Kulkarni went on to play 79 first class games bagging 232 first class wickets with 12 five-wkt hauls to his name.

Raju Kulkarnni visited Zimbabwe with the Indian youth side in 1984 but remained on the periphery of the national side. He even toured Australia in 1985-86 where he made three more ODI appearances for India. Raju’s Test debut also came in an interesting manner in 1986-87 vs Australia at Bombay where he received a call on the morning of the match telling him to rush to the ground. On his debut match, Raju took a commendable 3 for 85 on a pitch which was designed to aid spin and he could have come with even better bowling figures had he given more time to bowl by the skipper.

Raju Kulkarni continued to perform consistently for Bombay and was included in the Indian squad for the 1990 Asia Cup too but didn’t play. He eventually retired in 1992 and later concentrated his hard work on his sports equipment business.




Editor Haineel Shah