Cricket has always been home to some of the most magnificent stories about players who have made their mark in the Cricket history over the years. While some stories get all the big headlines amongst the leading dailies and news bites, there are also some which eventually disappears from the minds of the Cricket Fraternity. Such was the story about the Former Indian war veteran and a Prolific Cricketer, Late Major General Joginder Singh Rao. Rao was amongst those unsung heroes within the country, which have largely stayed unknown to the general world even after achieving some of the biggest honors on both the Battle field and the Cricket Pitch.
History and Background
Major General Joginder Rao was one of the those Brave soldiers of the Indian army who not only fought the famous battles of 1965 and 1971 for his country, but also made history in the Ranji Trophy cricket while playing for the services team. Rao has started with his career in the Ranji Trophy season while playing for the services team against the Jammu and Kashmir team at the famous Army Headquarters ground. J& K Team folded down for a paltry score of 47 and 81 in both the innings and Services eventually won the match by an innings and 68 runs.
Major General Joginder Rao was born at Guragon , Haryana and always dreamt of serving in the Indian army since his childhood. Moreover, once he joined National Defense academy at an age of 17 years, he never looked back again and served the Indian army with all the Bravery and excellence during his service period. Apart from Army, Rao was very much interested in Cricket and golf and once he bid adieu to his cricket career in the backdrop of an ankle injury due to an accident at the Para training, he kept on going with his Golf career with full dedication and perfection.
Two Matches, Three Hat-tricks
Moreover, it was the splendid performance with the bowling by Rao who picked 8 wickets on Debut along with a magnificent Hat-trick while just playing his first ever match. Well, that was just the start of what was about to follow as this prolific player went on to do the “Unthinkable “in just his second match against the Punjab team.
It was a fine day at the Amritsar’s Gandhi Complex and Punjab gets bundled out for a mere score of 108 runs against a brilliant spell olf bowling by the Services bowler one more time. Quite Surprisingly, Rao didn’t get any wicket in the first innings of Punjab and it looked like he lost the magic which he created in the first match. Well, that was not the case as Rao claimed his second hat trick in just his second match while making Punjab struggled down to a paltry score of 46 for 6.
It was then when everyone witnessed what has never happened in the Cricket history before. Rao claimed his third Hat-trick in just his second match while scalping 7 wickets for just 30 runs in his 12 overs. Although Rao did play 3 more matches in his short Ranji career against the teams of Delhi, Southern Punjab and Railways following his feat, he was only been able to claim 6 wickets in total out of these matches. His career ended once he fell down to an ankle injury during a Para training accident suffered in 1964.
Personal and Professional life
Rao’s real name was Rao Joginder singh and he got to switch his name while making an entry into the National Defense academy at Khadakwasla in Pune while being just a 17 year’s old guy. Rao got married to Ms Nandita Das with whom he had two kids namely Probir and Rahul.
While Rao was an outstanding cricketer, he was a brilliant golfer alongside and took his interest in the game to the next level by representing the Indian Golf team in various amateur golf tournaments across the globe. Quite interestingly, one of his captains in the Golf tournament was the famous cricketer Prakash bhandari who has also served as a an administrator in the institution. Moreover his wife Nandita Rao is herself a famous Golfer and currently serving as the Chairperson of the ladies committee at the Indian Golf Union.
Rao has been accredited with various honors during his association with the Indian army where he took part in two of the most historic wars against Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. Moreover, the same association also saw him getting the reputed “ Vishisht Sewa Medal” for “ Distinguished service of an exceptional order” during his association. Additionally, he also commanded the renowned 411 Parafield Company of the Bombay Sappers for duration of two years (1967-1969).
Rao has also been remembered for his contribution while transforming the Army golf courses at the Delhi Cantonment and Dehradun Region and he himself has served as a Professional golfer for many years while representing his country at some of the major golf tournament across the globe.
Although Rao has registered some of the rarest feats in the world of cricket in his brief cricketing career, he has hardly got any mentions in the famous Cricket magazines or news dailies. Major General rao passed away on October 3 1994 while falling prey to his brief illness eventually. Almost everyone who has participated in the memorable match featuring Rao has left this world and even the Indian Legendary spinner Bishan Singh Bedi , who also featured as a youngster in that historical match while playing from Punjab, remembers the performance by Rao as one of the “ Forgotten Heroics” in the Indian Cricket History.
While the sports world is mad about their legendary players like Mohammed ali . Michael Jordan and others, players like Rao must also get all the required mention to their name and must be remembered in the Cricket history books with all the respect and honors alongside.