Danthala Venkata Meher Baba
2 January 1950|
Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh
|Died||16 January 2008(aged 58)|
|Batting style||Left-hand bat|
|Bowling style||Slow left-arm orthodox|
|Domestic team information|
|1970–1989||Andhra Ranji Team|
|1979||Hyderabad Ranji Team|
|1975–1984 (9 Seasons)||South Zone in Duleep Trophy, Deodhar Trophy|
|1970 -1993||Andhra Bank Cricket Team|
|Hyderabad Blues Cricket Team|
|Ranji Trophy debut||8 January 1972 Andhra v Mysore|
Danthala Venkata Meher Baba is a former Indian cricketer; he represented Andhra Pradesh in the Ranji Throphy Cricket Championship from 1971 to 1989, he also represented the Hyderabad Ranji Trophy Team in 1978; He was a left-hand batsman and left-arm spinner with 16-year first-class career spanning from 1970 to 1987. He made 2649 runs, with a highest of 134 not out against Goa, He also scored 20 half centuries and took 173 wickets with his slow left arm orthodox bowling with five for 32 being the best bowling figures, he had a total of five five-wicket hauls.
Meher Baba was born on 2 January 1950 in Kakinada, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh in India, he was the only son of Shri. Danthala Ramayya Naidu and Smt. Danthala Padmamma. He was named after Avatar Meher Baba.
Venkata Meher started to play cricket at an age of 17, where he was selected to represent East Godavari District in the Junior State selection Championship in 1967 in Kakinada. He showed exceptional skill in his left arm orthodox spin bowling and left hand batting, his consistent performance in the Junior State Cricket Championship got him selected to represent the Andhra Ranji Trophy Team in 1971.
Meher Baba made his debut against Mysore (now Karnataka) held on 8,9,10 January 1972 (3-day match)in Vijayawada. Meher Baba took his first wicket on 27 October 1972, against Kerala at Kurnool, this was his 4th first class match. Because of inconsistent debutant performances in the first 5 matches, Andhra's Captain B Mahendra Kumar dropped Meher Baba from the playing 11, against Tamil Nadu in Madras on 3 December 1972. Andhra however lost this match by 105 runs.
Under a new captaincy of B.Ram Prasad, Meher Baba was brought back into the playing 11 the next season, on 3 November 1973 against Hyderabad on Kottagurem. Batting first Andhra were all out for a low score 51, in which Meher Baba stayed not out scoring 14 runs. He bowled an excellent spell of 15 overs taking 5 wickets for 32 runs, in which he tore apart the Hyderabad batting line up of K Jayantilal, N Mehta, Mumtaz Hussain, ML Jaisimha and Abdul Hai[disambiguation needed]. He complete the season with 11 wickets in 4 matches. Meher Baba scored his debut 50 (59 run out) against Karnatake on 11 November 1974. Meher Baba played a match winning role in the second innings against Kerala at Guntur on 16 December 1974, where Meher took 3 wickets for 22 runs in 11.2 overs. This victory by 22 runs against Kerala on 16 December was the first ever for Andhra since his participation in the Ranji Trophy Championship. Andhra went on to win another nail biting match by just 1 run against Tamil Nadu at Salem on 6 January 1975.
His wife Smt. Danthala Uma Maheshwari retired as Section Officer, Andhra Pradesh Secretariat. His daughters Archana and Padmaja represented the AP Women's cricket team, Archana also played for Inter State south zone while his son Srikkanth represented Andhra Under-19 and South India Under 19 Teams.
Education and job history
Meher Baba, dropped out of BDS from Govt Medical College in Machilipatnam, because of personal heath issues and later pursued his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, in Rajendranagar, Hyderabad. Meher Baba was offered a clerical job in Andhra Bank, with an agreement to be part of the first Andhra Bank cricket team, to participate in the prestigious Hyderabad Cricket Association's A division institutional cricket league. He formed a champion team along with famous cricketers like Abid Ali, Narsimha Rao (Babji), Vijay Paul, Bhasker Ram Murthy and Jyoti Prasad.
Meher baba played for Andhra Bank for 25 years and retired from the institutional cricket after 4 years of his first class cricket retirement in 1989. As a Zonal Manager, he took voluntary retirement from Andhra Bank in 2001. Meher Baba later worked for Jagruti Bank in Sainikpuri as a Branch Manager for 2 years and later resigned his post.
BCCI selection committee
After his retirement from Cricket, Meher Baba was appointed to be part of the Under-19 National Selection committee in 1989. He was notable for his selection of cricket greats like Rahul Dravid & VVS Laxman to represent the under-19 Indian cricket team. Meher Baba was in the National selection committee from 1990 to 1996. For more than 12 years, Meher Baba was an important member of the Andhra Cricket Association Selection Committee, for Ranji Trophy team selections as well as the Under-19 Team selections.
Meher Baba played an active role as a cricket coach, he was appointed as the cricket coach from the Andhra Ranji Team from 1999–2005. He was also the coach for the Under-19 Andhra State team in 1998. Meher also was an active coach at the Aibara Cricket Camp in Secunderabad, Sports Coaching Foundation in Masab Tank, Cricket Academy in Sainikpuri as well as Women's coaching foundation in Maredpally.
In 1992, BCCI honoured Meher Baba with a benefit match, as a gesture of his contributions to India cricket. The benefit match was conducted between Gavaskar XI and Mohammad Azharuddin XI at Srikakulam. Andhra Cricket Association honoured Meher Baba in 2007, at his home town in Rajamundry.
Meher Baba battled against Lung Cancer for 2 years, and died on 16 January 2008 at his residence in Sainikpuri, Secunderabad, AP. His death was condolenced by the media, the Hyderabad Cricket Association as well the Andhra Cricket Association.
Memorial cricket events
Since 2008, Telugu Association of Canada and Robin Singh Foundation conduct the annual "Danthala Meher Baba Cricket Trophy". In 2012, BCCI has named the Under-16 South Zone inter-state women’s tournament as "Danthala Meher Baba Memorial Cricket Tournament".
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