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'He said we should show attitude and courage while facing the Aussies'

By HARISH KOTIAN
August 18, 2020 14:32 IST
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'He hugged me and told me "This is how you are supposed to play when you are representing the country, with lot of passion, bravery and courage".'

VVS Laxman

IMAGE: V V S Laxman celebrates a double century in the second Test against Australia at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, March 14, 2001. Photograph: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT/Getty Images
 

Chetan Chauhan, who passed away on Sunday, was the legendary Sunil Gavaskar's longest-serving opening partner in Test cricket.

Chauhan played 40 Tests for India, scoring 2,084 runs. He was unlucky not to register a Test century despite coming close on a few occasions -- he fell twice in the 90s and five times in the 80s.

Even after his playing days he made an impact, serving in various roles in the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association -- as president, vice-president, secretary and chief selector.

One role that has gone rather unoticed among the many tributes posted after his passing has been as the manager of the Indian team, especially for his role in the historic Test victory against Australia in Kolkata in March 2001, when India won after being asked to follow on and subsequently went on to win the series.

V V S Laxman, who scored an incredible 281 -- arguably the most important innings by an Indian batsman a a Test this century -- led India's amazing comeback in the Eden Gardens Test, and recalls how Chetan Chauhan played a role in that memorable triumph.

"I remember him having a chat with the entire team after the second's day play of the Kolkata Test where he said 'It is very important we realise that we represent the country. There are a lot of expectations on us and it is very important for us to fight and show that attitude and courage when we are facing the Australians," Laxman tells Harish Kotian/Rediff.com.

"At the end when we won the match, he was very proud of what we had achieved. At the end of the series, he was very happy and proud with the victory," Laxman adds.

IMAGE: India's players celebrate winning the second Test against Australia at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, March 15, 2001. Photograph: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

"I remember him hugging me in Chennai after the third Test which we won to claim the series. He hugged me and told me 'This is how you are supposed to play when you are representing the country, with lot of passion, bravery and courage'," recalls Laxman

Laxman also hailed Chauhan's role in helping the Indian team handle the infamous 'Monkeygate' controversy during the India tour of Australia in 2007-2008, when the visitors nearly pulled out of the tour after Harbhajan Singh was accused of racially abusing Andrew Symonds.

"He was the manager during that series. I think someone who is as experienced as him along with Dr M V Sridhar (who passed away in 2017) was instrumental in making sure that the right decision took place in co-ordination with the BCCI."

Chetan Chauhan

IMAGE: Chetan Chauhan, cricketer, cricket administrator, politician. Photograph: BCCI/Twitter

As the manager, Laxman recalls Chauhan was very efficient and every demand from the players was immediately acted upon.

"He was that kind of character, he used to always be very welcoming for any request from our side. He would always get those requests fulfilled. He always used to make sure that we as cricketers, we as the team, got everything possible so that we could just focus on the game and not get distracted with what was happening outside the cricket field."

"What really impressed me was that even though he was a stalwart as far as cricket is concerned, he was also a very efficient administrator, that is a brilliant combination to have."

Laxman recalls his last meeting with Chauhan two years ago when he was doing commentary for the India versus West Indies T20I game in Lucknow.

"It is really unfortunate that he passed away, he was so fit and active. He was so hale and hearty when I met him in Lucknow during the West Indies match."

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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