The boys from Jain University, Bangalore did the unthinkable when they beat Mumbai University in the final of the Rohinton Baria All India Inter-University cricket championship to come out as the best university cricket team in India.
Their 82-run win against the much-fancied Mumbai outfit on January 6, 2013 at Manipal can help them get a tag of 'silent killers' ahead of the Toyota University Cricket Championship starting February 23. Led by a 6-foot 3-inch tall Kaunain Abbas, the Jain University from Bangalore would want to justify the name 'Southern Champs' given to them in the TUCC by all means.
However, their ride to the University cricket title was not the smoothest. Entering the Rohinton Baria tournament as runners-up from South Zone, Jain University snatched a narrow 3-wicket victory over North Zone winners Aligarh Muslim University in a closely fought quarter-final on January 1. The win turned the anxieties of 22-year-old skipper Abbas into joy ahead of the semi-final against Jiwaji University from Gwalior.
Siddarth KV with 56 not out and Samarth Ravi Kumar (unbeaten 43) helped Jain secure a comfortable 8-wicket win over Jiwaji on January 3. But what lay ahead of them in the final were the invincibles from Mumbai University.
The Mumbai side had crushed APS University from Rewa by 76 runs in the quarters and had beaten the mighty Jamia Millia Islamia team from New Delhi by 60 runs in the semis.
Not many would have given them the chance against Mumbai, but what occurred on the Manipal University End Point Ground 1 on January 6, was reminiscent of India's famous upset over the West Indian giants in the 1983 World Cup final. It was sweet revenge also for Jain who lost to Bombay in the semi-final last year.
Bombay were all out for 253 in 78.3 overs in reply to Jain's 335 for 7 in 90 overs. Samarth Ravi Kumar, who scored a belligerent 121 from 153 balls, was named Man of the match as well as the Man of the series. Samarth also starred with the ball picking up 3 wickets with his off-spin along with left-arm spinner Daniel Sequeira, who scalped 3.
What went in the Bangalore team's favour was a blend of amazing determination and dedicated team work, thanks to an inspiring leader in Abbas. These qualities will be vital for the Southern Champs once the TUCC starts and the world sits up and takes notice.
"Winning is everything, it gives you fame, name. I want to be a leader through cricket. Leading my team is not really a responsibility or pressure as everyone is capable of doing what they are. To me, Ab Hamari Baari Hai means enough is enough, let's do it," says Abbas.