Samad Fallah retires from professional cricket

Samad Fallah took three wickets in the second innings and 10 in the match Dainik Dabang Dunia

Samad Fallah, Maharashtra's highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy, has formally announced his retirement. The left-arm swing bowler picked up 272 Ranji wickets for Maharashtra, and 287 first-class wickets overall, in 78 matches, at an average of 28.48.

Fallah also took 75 List A wickets and 62 in T20s. He was instrumental in delivering Maharashtra their only silverware at the senior level since 1940-41, picking up a match-winning four-wicket haul in the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (T20) in March 2010.

Fallah's last official match was a Vijay Hazare Trophy (50-overs) game for Uttarakhand in March 2021. Having moved to Uttarakhand for the 2020-21 season, he returned to Maharashtra and made himself available for selection in all three formats, but didn't get a chance to resume his career.

Now 39 and head coach of Nashik Titans in the Maharashtra Premier League, Fallah has made his retirement official.

Fallah traced an unusual path to professional cricket, never playing any representative age-group cricket, and making his way into club cricket via eye-catching performances in tennis-ball tournaments. He made his Maharashtra debut at 22 and immediately made an impact, picking up a match-winning second-innings six-wicket haul against Himachal Pradesh in November 2007. He quickly established himself as the leader of Maharashtra's attack, picking up 20-plus wickets in every Ranji season from 2007-08 to 2014-15.

As he reached his peak, Maharashtra built one of the best seam attacks in Indian domestic cricket, with Fallah, Anupam Sanklecha, Domnic Muthuswami and Shrikant Mundhe combining to lead the team to the Ranji final in 2013-14 and the semi-finals in 2014-15. Fallah's high point came in the semi-final in Indore in January 2014, when he picked up 7 for 58 on the first morning to help bowl Bengal out for 114.

The unconventional trajectory of Fallah's career found expression in his bowling too. He enjoyed long spells of nine or ten overs, and seldom marked a fixed run-up, preferring to begin his run from wherever his mood took him. He constantly varied his angle and approach to the crease too, sometimes even running in zigzag to try and unsettle batters.

At the time of retirement, Fallah is the second-highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy among left-arm fast bowlers, with only Jaydev Unadkat (316) above him. Hiralal Gaekwad, whose Ranji Trophy career stretched from 1941 to 1963, picked up 278 wickets, but he bowled a mixture of left-arm spin and seam.