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Home > Cricket > Report

'Sardesai was a delight to watch'

Haresh Pandya and Onkar Singh | July 03, 2007 11:53 IST
Last Updated: July 03, 2007 14:57 IST

Dilip Sardesai
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Former Test cricketer Dilip Sardesai, who was considered India's best batsman against spin bowling, died in Mumbai on Monday of multiple-organ failure.

Sardesai, 66, who was admitted to Bombay Hospital late last month with chest infection, was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit last night after he developed complications.

Team mates Gundappa Viswanath, Erapalli Prasanna and Bishen Singh Bedi pay tributes to the master batsman.

Gundappa Viswanath:

It is very sad news for me that Dilip Sardesai is no more. He was a very good friend of mine. I have played a lot of cricket with and against him and really enjoyed it. The country has lost one of its finest, colourful cricketers.

I always respected him for his excellent technique and his ability to play brilliantly under pressure. He was the scourge of spinners in particular. He was so good with the willow that he could excel as an opener as well as middle-order batsman. I am really surprised, even today, why a batsman of his class and capacity did not play many more Tests than he did. But the loss, I think, was India's.

He was an ideal team-mate, always ready to help his colleagues in whatever way he could. Even after retirement he never shirked from helping youngsters. I often met him Mumbai after his playing days and had a lovely time reviving old memories.

He was a great, inspiring company on the tours of the West Indies [Images] and England [Images] in 1971. He achieved tremendous success there but it never went to his head. A jovial fellow, he had a fine sense of humour. He would crack jokes and make the atmosphere lively. I wished I had shared a room with him on the tour at least once!

Erapalli Prasanna:

It is shocking that Dilip Sardesai has breathed his last at 66. I think it is too early for a person to die at this age. 'Tiger' Pataudi, Sardesai, Farokh Engineer and I made our Test debut in the 1961-62 home series against Ted Dexter's England side. We were also together on the 1962 tour of the West Indies, where I shared room with Sardesai.

Being a spinner, I can vouch for his class as a batsman. Technically very sound, he was a batsman of a very high order. Despite his undoubted talents, he did not have a regular place in the Indian team, which was really baffling. Nor did he have a fixed place in the batting order. I think it was a combination of such factors explained why he did not play many more Tests.

But what a batsman! He was a delight to watch when on song. The West Indies tour in 1971 saw him in all his glory. He was not less successful in the following tour of England. His contribution with the bat in our historic Test win at The Oval could not be measured in cold statistics. It is tribute to him that his name will always be associated with these particular tours where India made history.

Given his excellent sense of humour and endearing frankness, he was a great company on and off the field. It was a privilege for me to share a room with him on many occasions. It was from him that I learnt some particular slang words of the Hindi they speak in Mumbai! He was a very nice human being. He was a true son of India cricket.

Bishen Singh Bedi:

Dilip Sardesai was one of the finest cricketer from Mumbai that I have ever met. A fine host, he and his wife would often invite cricketers from outside to their residence and talk to them about the yester years and how the game has degenerated in last few years. A gem of man and a superb cricketer, I had the privilege of sharing room with him on one or two tours abroad.

Sunny Gavaskar who was the find of the tour to West Indies in 1971 missed out on the first Test and it was left to this gutsy cricketer from Mumbai to hold the fort. He scored over six hundred runs including a brilliant double hundred in Jamaica against the mighty West Indian bowling attack with Erapalli Prasanna and Eknath Solkar as his partners at the other end.

He revived the Indian batting and became its backbone. In fact we had been planning to save one of the matches but thanks to awesome batting performance by Dilip and because of him we came close to enforcing the follow on. He rarely boasted of his performance and took the same in his stride. Even if he scored a double hundred, he come back to the dressing room crack some jokes and keep others also in good humour.

He loved to play shots along the carpet and took special delight in executing cover drives that became his trade mark.

He loved eating particularly when he was hungry anything would do that is nicely cooked. He was diabetic and would go for dialysis all by himself once a week and then he would come straight to Mumbai cricket club and discuss cricket. He did not think much about the changes that are being brought about in shorter form of cricket particularly 20-20 etc.