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'Opponents feared his confidence'
December 20, 2004 20:37 IST
The British media paid handsome tributes to former Indian captain Vijay Hazare, describing him as one of India's greatest cricketers and the mainstay of India's batting after the second World War.
"Hazare possessed all the shots, delighting especially in the cut. He also hit the ball through the covers off the front foot with silky ease, and brought an imperious authority to the on-drive -- perhaps the ultimate test of a batsman's ability," the Daily Telegraph said.
"All too often he arrived at the wicket with the score at something like five for two wickets; often, too, he restored the situation.
"And when it is remembered that he was facing bowlers of the calibre of Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller, Bill Johnston, Alec Bedser, Brian Statham, Fred Trueman and Jim Laker, his achievement of scoring 2,192 runs (including seven hundreds) in 30 Test matches, with an average of 47.65, is even more striking," the report said.
Hazare, who led India to the first ever Test win, died at Vadodara on Saturday, aged 89.
The newspaper recalled that when Hazare went to Australia in 1947-48, Don Bradman immediately spotted the soundness of his methods and prophesised that he would be the main thorn in Australia's side.
"In the fourth Test he certainly was, when he became the first Indian to hit a century in each innings (116 and 145) of a Test match; it was not equalled until Sunil Gavaskar's two hundreds against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in April 1971."
Later, Hazare would set another record by making three hundreds in three successive Test innings, though these were spread across nearly three years.
"He ended the series of 1948-49 against the West Indies with an innings of 122, and began the series against England in 1951-52 with 164 not out in the first Test, and 155 in the second. Gavaskar, Polly Umrigar and Vinod Kambli are the only Indian batsmen to have emulated this feat," it said.
Hazare was also a useful medium-pace bowler who actually opened India's attack at Lords in 1946.
"In the series of 1947-48 he twice bowled Don Bradman in Tests, once for only 13 (when, with figures of four for 29, he helped skittle out Australia on a bad wicket at Sydney); the other time, rather less gloriously, at Adelaide, after the Don had scored 201. Bradman's batting average for that series was 178.75."
'The Guardian', in its obituary column, said "sound technique and temperament" enabled Hazare to face the best fast bowlers and spinners with ease and felicity.
"His cover-drive, hook and square-cut were attractive. Opponents feared his confidence, concentration, determination and hunger for runs. He was patience personified, unruffled by intimidation or sledging and the only Indian batsman who could play as well on matting as on turf."
'The Times', described him as India's most dependable batsman, renowned for his inexhaustible patience.
"With a batting method as neat as his moustache, and inexhaustible patience, he scored hugely in domestic cricket in India, and a batting average of 47.65 from his 30 Test matches is a fair reflection of a fine talent."