By Shirshendu Roy*
It was the 9th of August back in the year 1997, when our lanky Odia lad, Debasis Mohanty did the unthinkable by becoming the first cricketer from Odisha to play for India. It’s been a long time since he last played for India but even today, every Odia grins from ear to ear at the mere mention of his name and it doesn’t take us too long to get started about his unique bowling action and how he accounted for some big wickets in his limited career in international cricket.
Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva, Saeed Anwar were a few of his first scalps. He would be most remembered for his match winning spell against Pakistan in Toronto (3 for 15, 2nd ODI, Sahara Friendship Cup) and his exploits at the 1999 World Cup in England.
Mohanty played just 45 ODIs and 2 Tests over a period of 4 years but he did enough to make us proud. He continued to bag wickets at the first class level for Odisha and East Zone. In fact, he holds a special record of having picked up all 10 wickets in an innings of a Duleep Trophy game against the Rahul Dravid led South Zone team in 2001. He finished with 417 first class wickets, 160 List A and 9 T20 wickets.
Also read: Cricket World Cup & the Odisha connection
Do you know what Debasis Mohanty is up to now? He is now the Coach of the Odisha Ranji Team, having taken over the reins from the Australian legend, Michael Bevan in 2011. In between, he coached the East Zone side to a Duleep Trophy victory in 2012.
Debasis Mohanty shall forever be a household name for we, Odias. Cricket and he are after all synonymous for us. Firsts are always special. Aren’t they?
*The author Shirshendu Roy is a noted international cricket commentator with cricbuzz for the last nine years and is a media research scholar at the Central University of Odisha. Apart from sports, he writes on a wide array of topics.