Syed Mujtaba Hussein Kirmani Profile
Popularly known as ‘Kiri’, he came to be known as one of the finest wicket keepers that India had ever produced. Replacing a swashbuckling keeper batsman in Farookh Engineer, Syed Kirmani had huge shoes to fill. His debut came in 1976 against New Zealand in Auckland. In his second Test, he equaled the record of six dismissals in an innings but followed it up with a dismal performance behind the stumps against the Windies at home.
He came good with the bat against the Kiwis in an away tour in 1979 and finished with an average of 65.33, following it up with another good performance down under against Australia. After a torrid time behind the stumps in 1978, Kirmani was replaced by Bharath Reddy in the 1979 World Cup squad. The charismatic keeper made a comeback the same year against Australia, coming in as night watchman Kirmani scored an unbeaten 101 lasting almost a day in the middle. He also had an amazing run of form with the gloves in the season, taking 17 catches and 2 stumpings against Pakistan and equaled the record of most dismissals in a series.
A gritty lower order batsman, he bailed out India many a times from crunch situations like a 143 run stand for the ninth wicket against the West Indies in Chennai or his crucial stand of 126 with Kapil Dev against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup. Kirmani enjoyed a lot of glory years behind the stumps but during 1985-86 an indifferent showing resulted in him being dropped again. Kirmani managed a decent comeback series in Australia later that season but an injury would force him out of the side and the selectors would look for younger replacements in Kiran More and Chandrakant Pandit.