|Dr. Hariprasad, CEO, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad|
Hari was a legend in that age group, known for his aggressive batting as for his shrewd tactics as a captain. As skipper of the HPS, Begumpet he was the quintessential HPS, Begumpet boy as we knew them then, and carried that spirit with him - brash, ready for a challenge and never backing off from one. I remember the dressing room talk before we played the famed HPS Begumpet side hat year in 1982 in a league match, of how Hari would single handedly demolish us with his batting. Hari had the distinction of having played Ranji Trophy in his school days itself and getting 72 runs on debut against the strongest attack in the South - Karnataka which had Roger Binny, Abhiram, Raghuram Bhat, Vijayakrishna. When we took the field against this monster side, we All Saints boys were completely psyched out by the super confident HPS team which was already planning what to do after the match. Hari was all over the place as he bundled us out or 126. I got 21 of those runs and remember how he got into my mind with his talking and got me to play a rash shot.
We got them out for 70 after they were 30 for no loss at lunch, a huge upset that year. I got 5 for 25, Srinivas Chakravarthy got 4 for 19 and it was the sweetest victory we have had. I did not know Hari despite all this and it was only two years later when he was the captain of the Under 22 side that I met him again as his teammate and new ball bowler. Hari had meanwhile enhanced his reputation many times over with another classic knock of 217 that he got against a Tamil Nadu Under 19 attack that comprised of L. Sivaramakrishnan, W.V. Raman, B. Arun to name a few. With Vivek Jaisimha for company, who made 90 runs, the Hyderabad team overtook a massive Tamil Nadu score and the game went down into some part of cricketing heroics that remains etched in all our minds. As captain Hari was decisive, aggressive and got the best out of his players. I had a good outing under him I remember, getting 11 wickets in two matches and also a 40 against Andhra and a 31 against Tamil Nadu. We lost the final to Tamil Nadu at Trichur but it was a great learning experience playing with all these experienced seniors.
Soon after I heard that Hari had joined medicine at the Gandhi Medical College, Hyderabad and had completely given up cricket. I could not understand how anyone who was so promising a year ago could just take such a drastic decision. Hari was a murderous batsman who hit the ball hard, and as an opening batsman could easily take the game away in a few overs. He had a stance that started way out of the leg stump and he shuffled in, exposing his stumps but that was the only thing you saw of the stumps as he hit the ball all over the park. He was again one of those who rose from the ranks, scoring runs at all levels and proving himself time and again until he was picked to play for Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy.
The biggest thing about Hari was his confidence that was highly infectious. Nothing seemed too big for him and he always seemed to have the measure of everyone and everything. I heard he married his college mate and that he took over the practice of his family run Sridevi Nursing Home in Jamai Osmania area. Then years later I heard he was the MD of the Apollo Hospitals in Himayat Nagar and soon I heard he was the MD of the Apollo Hospitals in Hyderabad. I saw him a few times on television and a few times that I was in Appollo, I thought I would drop in and say hello. I actually did drop in one day but he was busy in a meeting and I left my card and came away..
I invited Hari for the launch of 'The Men Within' and he said he would try to make it. He could not owing to his busy schedules. I called him again recently seeking an interview for the promotion of 'Golconda High School' the film based on 'The Men Within' and he was more than gracious in giving us time. Unfortunately I could not go to meet him on the day of the interview as I had to go out of town. Hopefully then I should meet him at the movie launch this coming month. Meanwhile, wishing you well on your endeavours Hari and hopefully get some time to interview you as well.