Yashpal Sharma’s participation in, and contribution to, the 1983 World Cup win carried an uncommon message

Yashpal Sharma’s participation in, and contribution to, the 1983 World Cup win carried an uncommon message

He had revived India from the pits of 108 for 7 in the first Test with a valiant 63 that took four and half hours, and in the second Test, had to retire hurt after a Malcolm Marshall bouncer socked him in the chest.

A few months before his heroics in the 1983 World Cup where India would trounce West Indies to transform Indian cricket, Yashpal Sharma, who succumbed to a heart attack on Tuesday, was bloodied and bruised in the Caribbean. He had revived India from the pits of 108 for 7 in the first Test with a valiant 63 that took four and half hours, and in the second Test, had to retire hurt after a Malcolm Marshall bouncer socked him in the chest. But he returned in the second innings to make a brave 50 that saved the game. It was with this hard-earned reputation that the honest craftsman, the “common man” of Indian cricket, would enter the World Cup.

It was Sharma who kickstarted the campaign for India with a man-of-the-match performance in India’s first game of the tournament — against who else but West Indies. He top scored with 89 as India convincingly beat the then world champions for the second time in three ODIs — the first win had come on that Caribbean tour at Berbice. That Yashpal-triggered win had raised hopes among the players, a majority of whom had initially looked at the World Cup as a tourist jaunt. And when the fairytale threatened to end abruptly in the semi-final, it was Sharma again who played arguably the shot of the tournament — an astonishing swivelling-flicked six off Bob Willis — to turn the tide again.

He would openly talk about the insecurities he faced, why he felt he needed to defend dourly at the start, as a failure could knock him off the team. Why he was made to feel that he never commanded a spot in the team. And yet, he carried the flame. And that was his true achievement: To send the message that the common man can through sheer grit and skill do things that seem out of reach.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s