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'Yashpal didn't get credit for '83 win'

By HARISH KOTIAN
July 16, 2021 10:28 IST
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'He was the one who set the agenda for the 1983 World Cup win with 89 in the first match against the West Indies, then top-scoring with 40 in the crucial match against Australia when we had to qualify for the semi-finals.'
'He played another brilliant innings of 61 against England in the semi-finals.'

IMAGE: Yashpal Sharma, right, with his 1983 World Cup team-mates, from left, Madan Lal, Kirti Azad, Sunil Valson, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. Photograph: Kind courtesy Yashpal Sharma/Instagram

Kirti Azad says his friend and team-mate Yashpal Sharma, who died on Tuesday, July 13, led a disciplined life and was a strict vegetarian and it was strange that he died due to a cardiac arrest.

Yashpal, who played 37 Tests and 42 ODIs for India from 1979 to 1985, was instrumental in India's World Cup win in 1983 with a few handy knocks with the bat.

Speaking to Rediff.com's Harish Kotian, Azad hails "gun fielder and superb team man" Yashpal Sharma.

 

He was the fittest in the side, a complete teetotaller. He wasn't indulging himself into any vices, he was a strict vegetarian, he led a very disciplined life.

This is not the age to go. The 1983 players were a good, happy, family. When WhatsApp came in around 10-15 years ago, we formed a group and we stayed constantly in touch with each other, joking around, pulling each other's legs.

When I heard about it, I was taken aback, in fact the entire team was (taken aback) when I put it on the WhatsApp group. Nobody could just say anything, nobody could believe he is gone.

It was a shock to all of us. We couldn't believe it. We met on 25th of June and we were very happy that all of us were alive, kicking and doing well and discussing about getting together on August 15th for the launch of a book. We were looking forward to watch the movie '83 together.

I am at a loss of words to explain the kind of personal loss it is for the entire '83 family. We will miss him.

Those days on tours we used to get cold cut sandwiches, steaks. He was a thorough vegetarian and he would at times crave for good hot spicy Indian food. Indians are everywhere and he had this knack to find a family or somebody to get him good vegetarian food on match days for lunch.

He would ask if we wanted to have some Indian food. We would tell him, 'Yes please, and get one or two non-veg dishes also.' He had this knack of organising these lovely lunches for us.

He was the backbone of our side. He was the one who set the agenda for the 1983 World Cup win with the 89 in the first match against the West Indies and then top-scoring with 40 in the crucial match against Australia when we had to qualify for the semi-finals.

He played another brilliant innings of 61 against England in the semi-finals. Slow and steady wins the race was the slogan that day for him.

We were at the Leela at Gurugram (for a book launch on June 25, 2021). I remember he was sitting in the lobby and asked him 'Paaji, kyun baithe ho?'

'Chirag (his son) London se aa raha hai so I will go straight from here because the airport is close by.' I said, 'Lovely, please give my love to him.'

He said, 'No worries, we will meet again on August 15' and that was it.

When I spoke to his wife Renu, she said he was perfectly fine. It had rained after a long time and the day he died it rained really heavily. So he said, 'I won't go for a walk today, it is raining heavily'. After some time he took a deep breath and was gone.

A person with no vices, nothing, he has a cardiac arrest, which is very strange.

He was the fittest all throughout. It was not that we were not fit, but he was very fit, he was very quick, nimble-footed.

He was a brilliant fielder, really quick to pounce on the ball.

People talk about Ravindra Jadeja hitting the stumps directly and getting people out. Yashpal was doing it with monotonous regularity in those days. He would hit the stumps from any angle. Even if he saw a single stump he would hit it, that was Yashpal Sharma for you.

Kapil's 175 and Yash's 89 were classical innings, but the BBC never did justice to us. They never thought that we will win, hence some matches were not televised.

Yash was made of different mettle altogether, a different kind of guy. He was very serious towards the game, he would always involve himself in serious discussion and strategy. He always had his own view point, which was very helpful for the team.

He was competing for a place with greats like Mohinder Amarnath and Dilip Vengsarkar, who were already in the side. G R Vishwanath was also there in the team. You had these players in the middle order and to still manage to keep his position in the team shows what mettle he was made of.

He didn't get the due that he should have for the '83 win.

Gun fielder and a gritty batsman... and a superb team man!"

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

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