Former Bengal batter Prakash Poddar, best known for being one of the two talent spotters who suggested a certain MS Dhoni's name to the BCCI bigwigs, has died in Hyderabad, according to information received from Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) sources. (More Cricket News)
Poddar, who played for both Bengal and Rajasthan, was 82 years old and used to live in Hyderabad where he breathed his last on December 29. Poddar, a fine batter in the 1960s who made it to the Indian Test squad for a home series against England in 1962, had 11 first-class hundreds to his name at an average of just under 40.
Poddar and his former Bengal teammate Raju Mukherjee's role in recommending Mahendra Singh Dhoni's name to erstwhile BCCI's Talent & Research Development Wing (TRDW) head Dilip Vengsarkar is now a part of cricketing folklore.
"PC da (as he was fondly called) and Raju (Mukherjee) were TRDOs (Talent and Reserch Development Officers) and Dhoni at that time was playing for Bihar (before Jharkhand got BCCI status) in a Ranji one dayers in Jamshedpur. Both of them saw his big hits and recommended his name to Dilip," veteran sports journalist Makarand Waingankar, who had a big role in setting up the TRDO, recalled fondly.
"PC da felt that a guy with such tremendous hand-eye co-ordination would be lost playing in the East Zone leg and BCCI needed to nurture and groom him. The rest is history," said Waingankar.
In the biopic MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, national selector Kiran More was seen talking to a person called Prakash, who was describing him about a young man known for hitting sixes for fun.
Mukherjee, a former Bengal captain as well as a BCCI match referee, has paid rich tribute to Poddar on his blog.
"As BCCI talent scouts, Lulu-da (Poddar's nickname) and this writer were the first to identify the exceptional talents of a man from Jharkhand (then Bihar) and inform BCCI about him. Lulu-da always maintained, 'I wonder what the zonal and national selectors were doing all these years', whenever the late arrival of one MSD was discussed," Mukherjee wrote in his blog.
People like Prakash Chandra Poddar become footnotes in the glitzy Indian cricket story but without footnotes like him, there would be no story.