Going native

ESPNcricinfo staff
From kachcha limbu to scooter, street cricket in India has evolved its own hyperlocal lexicon

Gully cricket slang in India varies from city to city, hills to plains © Getty Images

Renowned sociologist Ashis Nandy said that cricket was an Indian game accidentally discovered by the British. And you'll believe it when you see how completely the game has been adapted to the Indian setting, to the extent that different parts of the country have own unique cricketing lexicon, which is just a posh way of saying there's a lot of cricket slang in India.


Khaya nahi, piya nahi, khaali peeli glass toda
Translation: You came to a restaurant, ate nothing, drank nothing and still ended up paying for breaking a glass.
Used when a player, usually a sub, does something stupid. For instance, a runner who runs the batsman out, or a substitute fielder who drops a catch.

Also known as: Tempu/tempo, for a slow-moving vehicle.
A slow runner or a slow fielder. Often affectionately used for VVS Laxman.

Sur sur batti
Translation: Something that slithers along the ground.
For a ball that hits the pitch and doesn't rise. Legend had it that Abid Ali could bowl such a delivery on demand after he got a couple of wickets with it.

Darpuk dalli/dilli
Translation: A coward at heart.
A batsman scared of fast bowling.

Kya soot diya, miya!
Translation: How he hammered it!
Used in appreciation of a fine shot.

Translation: A reference to the game of marbles, used for a fielder who excels at bringing down the stumps from anywhere on the field.


Ek aahe, ek aahe
Translation: There's a single, there's a single.
Used by batsmen, while rotating the strike.

Goli de rey hyala
Translation: Throw a bullet, won't you?
To ask a bowler to bowl a bouncer.

Bundhyaat tak
Translation:Put it in the hole.
To ask a bowler to bowl a yorker.

Translation: A brainless player.


Lyataa maach dhora
Translation: Grasp a live spotted snakehead.
A common reproach by coaches, captains and even spectators to censure a sloppy fielder who fumbles the most innocuous ball approaching along the ground, much in the fashion of trying to clutch an especially slimy variety of fish, notorious for its evasiveness.

Used in phrases such as "gallery deowa" or "gallery maara" (do a gallery). It refers to a fielder's tendency of adding an unnecessary degree of flamboyance to a regulation fielding effort, with a view to getting applause from spectators.

Translation: Characterised by a lob.
Describes a type of slow, flighted delivery, sent in by a bowler of any style, which tends to dip, deliberately or otherwise, in front of the batsman and ends as a full toss. The term also refers to an easy catch that follows the trajectory of a gentle lob and eventually presents itself as a dolly.

Jhaata deowa
Also known as: Jhaaru maara.
Translation: To sweep.
Often used when an attempt at playing the sweep shot results in the batsman inadvertently ploughing a chunk off the pitch or whipping up a puff of dust without reaping any other rewards.

Also known as: Jaali (Counterfeit)
Translation: Good for nothing.
A lamentably incompetent player.

Hawaa deowa
Translation: To whisk air.
The hapless phase during a batsman's stay at the crease when he continuously plays and misses a string of balls pitched outside the off stump.

As they say in Hyderabad, "Kya soot diya, miya!" © Getty Images


Tadi/tadi dili
Translation: The outer limits of the city.
A big hit.

Leg in leg
Translation: Directly translated from paayaat paay in Marathi.
When you've had a very tiring day in the field, and can't walk straight.

Translation: A street game in which you aim a ball at a pile of stones. Another word for a chucker.

Light bulb
Used to describe a reflex catch. "Light bulb pakadla." (Caught the light bulb) - when you raise your hands and the catch sticks.

Translation: Stingy, mean-spirited.
A term that has come to describe the "Bombay style" of batting, which gives nothing away.

Translation: Popat is parrot in Marathi.
A mediocre cricketer.

Third man-fine leg
Deployed in an off-field context to describe a receding hairline.

Translation: Flat.
A flat wicket.

Translation: A spinning top.
A rank turner.

Translation: To sit.
Used to describe a batsman getting down on one knee and hitting a bowler over midwicket. The story goes that Vinod Kambli would sometimes call from the non-striker's end, asking the batsman to give the bowler a baithak.

Kawla udavla
Translation: Made a crow fly.
For a shot that goes vertically up from a top edge.

Kaakdi shot
Translation: A shot that sounds like a cucumber being snapped in half.
A cracking shot.

Gyanba Tukaram
Origin: Varkaris, a sect of Hindus in Maharashtra, take out an annual procession where they chant "Gyanba Tukaram" and dance to the beat of the lezim, a musical instrument with small jingling cymbals. The dance involves taking one step forward and one back
Used to describe a batsman playing and missing - the reference being to the action, which resembles the lezim dance.

RD Burman
Origin: RD Burman was a famous Hindi film music composer.
Code for the slip cordon to join in chorus with the wicketkeeper in appeal. Said to have been invented by former Bombay wicketkeeper Sulakshan Kulkarni.

Nariman na jooey le
Translation: (from Gujarati) Take a look at Nariman (here referring to the point fielder; "point" referring to Nariman Point in Mumbai).
Used when telling the bowler's-end umpire to keep an eye on the point fielder, who is deliberately wandering outside the 30-yard circle.


Translation: Shooter.
A delivery that goes along the ground, especially on muddy pitches.

Translation: Hoick.
A wild swing of the bat, or a slog towards the leg side.

Chala ke khel
Translation: Push the run rate along.
When batsmen go for their shots and keep taking singles and twos to rotate the strike and raise the scoring rate.

Translation: Chucker.

Beech ka bichhoo
Translation: The common one.
When an odd number of people playing gully cricket are divided into two teams and the last one left, the weakest player, bats for both teams.

Ulta bat out
Translation: Back of the bat out.
A batsman being declared out if the ball hits the back of his bat while playing a stroke.

Kacchi mitti
Translation: Clay.
Also: Kaccha limbu (an unripe lime)
A very young player, who is allowed to bat for an over or so, disregarding any dismissals that may occur in that time.

Chor bowling
Translation: To bowl like a miser.
Used when a bowler deals in tight lines and lengths to keep the run-scoring down.

A firecracker of a game on the streets of Nadiad, near Ahmedabad © Getty Images


Translation: Brass.
Also known as: Bhatha.
A term for a difficult delivery - one that requires effort and precision, like, say, a yorker. From the fact that brass, being a metal, is hard.

Translation: To stone.
Used by the keeper or close-in fielders, to ask the spinner to bowl a quicker delivery.

Translation: Beating up (Gujarati); betrayal (Hindi).
A pinch-hitter or a hard-hitting batsman. "A dhokabaji, like Yusuf Pathan, can do the job when the required rate is quite steep."

Translation: Crow.
A clever/street-smart cricketer. Someone who can chip in here or there and change the course of the game.


Translation: Mango
"Manga adikkaranda" (hitting mangoes) is used to describe a bowler with a suspect action. It involves chucking the ball as though one is aiming a stone at a mango on a tree to bring it down.

Katta viral la raththam varudu
Also known as: Kuri pathu podu / Kala pathu podu Translation: The toe is bleeding.
To say that a bowler has dropped it very short: so short that it's like the ball landed on his toes.

Kaththi podran
Translation: Inserting a knife
For a cross-batted shot played across the line, like how one might wield a knife.

Poi bowling/bowler
Translation: False bowling
Used for a spinner who does not turn the ball or do much, or one who puts in a lot of effort but does nothing and seems a lot more dangerous than he actually is.

Arai kozhi
Translation: Half a chicken
A long hop.

Mooku mele
Also known as: Dhanakoti sixer (after Dhanakoti, a stonewaller in local cricket) or "local six".
Translation: On top of your nose.
Describes a mistimed skier that ends in a catch within single-saving distance.

Compiled by: Vishal Dikshit, Akshay Gopalakrishnan, Annesha Ghosh, Shashank Kishore and Sharda Ugra

With thanks to VVS Laxman, Aakash Chopra, Amol Muzumdar, V Ramnarayan, Harsha Bhogle, Sunandan Lele, Clayton Murzello, Hemant Kenkre, Aritri Mitra, Binita Roy Moulick, Dipen Rudra and Jinia Roy

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  • Kiran on April 21, 2017, 23:53 GMT

    Karnataka lingo

    Pinda - shooter delivery which does not rise Kachko - stick to, like in kachkond aadu- preserve your wicket like dravid Kolte - fluke shot , like edged to four etc Lodde - left handed batsman / bowler Tootu - misfield, literally means hole

  • sakhis7066837 on April 21, 2017, 9:35 GMT

    railoo katta Used for a player who is like 12th man but He is allowed to bat from both sides . This term is used in pakistani punjab espacilly in lahore and accross. This word was used by Great Imran khan whilst he was commenting on final of PSL in lahore .

  • mjakht7573406 on April 21, 2017, 7:29 GMT

    hahaha very nice one...........

  • Puneet on April 20, 2017, 20:49 GMT

    This one from UP- chottee daal- bowl a short pitch ball

  • Ali on April 20, 2017, 13:52 GMT

    Wonderful, wonderful! Sur Sur Batti in Hyderabad refers to a cracker we get there which hugs the ground. Abid Ali did get some batsmen out, bowled by bowling these pitch hugging balls!!

  • wtnyc on April 20, 2017, 13:11 GMT

    Regarding the term 'dhokabaji', 'dhoko' in Gujarati means the small wooden bat used for washing clothes by slapping them hard repeatedly with it. This is a completely different word from Hindi 'dhokha' meaning betrayal. dhokabaji is hitting the ball hard, with power but without precision or care.

  • CricMystique on April 20, 2017, 12:01 GMT

    terrific read-pretty honest on VVS for the 'tempo'-lol-am guessing i was 'tempo' of another sort, In my early teens was drafted in by my much older bro's team as they were a man short, my job was to field on the boundary&generally 2 be seen&not heard-any ways, the batsman hits 1 in the air, i somehow catch it&with the gusto of a young guy doing well in an elder age group, I throw the ball high in celebration(like how i would have seen my heroes on what limited TV we had in those days)-unfortunately i didnot hear the call of 'no-ball' nor the frantic cries of my elder bro/other fielders with a lot of other 'colourful' words thrown in, also to add a double dose of comedy the wild celebratorythrow over my head was in a parabolic arc, crossed the canal (which framed the ground) landed on the other side. As no one was a good swimmer, by the time the fastest runner traversed the ground &canal &got it back, they ran about 35 :)....needless to say my 'services' were'nt in demand after this..:)

  • laksvi5642713 on April 20, 2017, 11:29 GMT

    awesome collection......brought back childhood memories....wow....so much humour and what a rich lexicon and cricketing jargon we have....am sure the same must be with other countries... on the personal side, my fielding efforts were always 'tempo' or 'cmon tempaaa....'!....whilst the 'lappa' was my go to shot...must admit managed to connect very few...usually was 'mooku mele'....as a lot of cricket i played was with rubber ball and plenty of full tosses at your head was the norm.... there was also the 'pahad chooha' literally meaning the difference bettwen the heights of the mountain with the puny ness of a mouse.....the implied meaning meaning 'much a do about nothing'-used to describe a lavish extravagant pull/hook/slog sweep/heave/cow corner sixer attempt....with absolute no connection am sure this is where terms like 'sandshoe crusher'-from Aus or 'de perfume ball' from the windies for the quick ball bowled at the batsmen's body said to have his perfume on it from the impact...

  • Andy on April 20, 2017, 11:23 GMT

    One more slang I remember from my playing days in Chennai during matches especially by the keepers was "Perukuraam da dai paaru"

    perkuraam means sweeping, when some one is sweeping especially wildly almost every single delivery or every over, keepers taunt the batsman as well as alert the bowler to alter their length. I was an compulsive sweeper even to the faster bowlers & I heard this term like a gazillion times :p

  • Andy on April 20, 2017, 11:20 GMT

    @urgurinder: InsideHedge Urguridner is right regarding Tempo but yeah in some places warehouses are called godown there's no space between go & down. Gurinder, godaam is an hindi term in south india its called only as godown even by the most literate people. A simple sentences you can hear at most stores - Go & check if the loading is completed in the godown.

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