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Kanga’s marathon man Mehli Irani dead | Cricket News




MUMBAI: Mehli Irani, a popular wicket-keeper-batsman who played for 50 years in the Kanga League for Parsee Cyclists, passed away in Dubai on Saturday at the age of 91. Irani, who also played for Bombay Gymkhana, played in four First Class matches, including one Ranji Trophy match for Mumbai (Bombay vs Baroda, December 1953).
He and his wife, Dhanu’s aunt, had moved to Dubai for the past three months to be with one of his two daughters. I last met him in Dubai in December 2020, said Nadeem Memon, an MCA Apex Council member and experienced curator, who has helped Irani immensely over the years. Mehlis’s funeral was held in Dubai on Sunday.
Many famous former Test cricketers, Nari Contractor, Farokh Engineer, Karsan Ghavri and Ghulam Parkar played for Parsee Cyclists under Mehlis captain. We played a lot of cricket together. He was my captain in college (St Xaviers) and (Bombay) University. When I retired as captain of the Parsee Cyclists, he took over for me. We had a strong association. He enjoyed his cricket. He never moaned about defeats and got things right. In 1952 we (Bombay University) won the Rohinton Baria Trophy under his captaincy by beating Delhi in the final in Bangalore. It was a month long tour and the best tour of my life, said Contractor.
We played against each other for a number of years. I was at Ruia College, and he was in St. Xaviers. Later he played for Parsee Cyclists, and I represented Shivaji Park. We used to have tough duels in the Kanga League and Purshottam Shield. He was a very good lefthanded hitter who would consistently score runs. Later in his career, he started holding wickets for the Parsee Cyclists, as having been around with Engineer before, he wouldn’t get a chance to do that, said former Indian wicket-keeper-batsman Chandu Patankar.
Unfortunately, because the standard of Mumbai cricket was so high at the time, he could only play in one Ranji match (he scored 17 in that match). In today’s time he would have played a lot more. Mehli was a typical Parsee, a very lively, knowledgeable and friendly person, Patankar summed up. In his book My innings in Mumbai cricket, former Mumbai cricketer and Mumbai under-22 coach Vilas Godbole has written a chapter about Irani. He kept wickets even after 60. The great thing about his wicket-keeping was that he was close to the stumps even for the fast bowlers. He had lightning reflexes and was a man of jokes and anecdotes, reminiscent of Godbole.

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