Yashpal Sharma, the quiet hero of India’s 1983 World Cup triumph, has died | Locust


“Kapil’s Devils” will unfortunately be running out of a limb from now on. Yashpal Sharma, one of the quiet heroes of India’s historic 1983 World Cup triumph in England, died of cardiac arrest on Tuesday. He was 66 years old.

Middle-order batsman, Sharma played 37 Tests and 42 ODIs, between 1978 and 1985. His solid first-class career contained 8,933 points, including 21 hundreds and 46,50. The Ludhiana-born batsman and part-time wicket keeper has performed for Punjab, Haryana and the railways.

He will however be remembered as a key Indian member of Kapil Dev who rocked the cricket world by toppling Clive Lloyd’s almost indomitable West Indies in the Lord’s final, denying them the hat-trick and opening a new chapter in world cricket.

Mention the 1983 World Cup campaigns and the images that come to mind are Kapil’s 175 * against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells and his catch to eliminate Viv Richards in the final; Balwinder Sandhu’s banana swinger to play Gordon Greenidge; The complete heroism of Mohinder Amarnath, or the square of K Srikkanth against Andy Roberts in the final.

It was Sharma who ignited the spark. His best score of 89 was crucial in surprising the West Indies in India’s first group match at Old Trafford. Although India lost the second leg, this victory gave the belief that Lloyd’s side were beatable.

Old Trafford was also the scene of Sharma’s exploits in the semi-finals, this time to beat England. He again got the best score with 61, and a crucial partnership with Sandeep Patil (51 *) saw India win four wickets. He was also one of the sharpest defensive players on that side, his exceptional work in the covers capped off with a direct exit from Allan Lamb.

Yashpal entered the national count in 1977 with a 173 winning game for the North Zone in the Duleep Trophy Final, underscoring his dominance over South Indian rotation stalwarts Erapalli Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar.

He scored two centuries of testing, 100 * against Australia in Delhi in 1979, his first year. The other, 140, came in a stand of 316 races with GR Viswanath, who broke a test record in India 222, against England in Chennai in 1982. His only test wicket was Desmond Haynes, caught by Ravi. Shastri in the 1983 Antigua Test. David Gower was his only ODI scalp, captured by Dilip Vengsarkar, at Oval in 1982.

On Tuesday his former teammates were upset, describing Sharma as a serious cricketer and one of the fittest of them.

“It’s very hard to believe,” said former skipper Vengsarkar. “We met just 10 days ago in Delhi (at a reception for the 1983 World Cup team). He looked the fittest of the lot. He was a teetotaler and a fitness freak. I asked him how he kept himself in shape and he said to me “in the evening, I only drink soup”.

Vengsarkar recalled his life-saving partnership (122 for the fourth wicket) with Sharma in the second round of the 1979 Delhi test against Pakistan. Vengsarkar hit 146 * and Sharma 60. “We were on the verge of losing the test on morning five (India had 126 all out in the opening heats after point guard Sikander Bakt’s eight wickets). We almost won the game but Yashpal got out and we lost wickets and pulled the shutters.

“He was a very stubborn, determined player and could change gears when needed because he was a good hitter as well. He was physically strong, a very good defensive player and a very good team player.

Syed Kirmani, who was voted best wicket keeper at the 1983 World Cup, was in disbelief as he was scheduled to interview Sharma for his YouTube channel on Tuesday night. “It broke my heart when I learned of his death in our World Cup squad (Whatsapp),” he said. “My best memory of Yash is the reception he received in the locker room (Old Trafford) after his 61st against England (India kicked out 213). I will never forget two things: the six he hit on Bob Willis’ slender leg moving on his stumps, nothing less than a T20 shot; and the direct throw at the end of the pitcher to run out of lamb.

Sandhu recalled their last meeting. “Absolutely shocking news, he was worried about my health when we met for a book launch on June 25. I can’t believe my roommate (during the 1983 World Cup) did is over. He was making tea for us, “he said.” He was healthy, in a good mood. We were making jokes, we were pulling each other’s legs.

The former Indian coach recalled Sharma’s qualities as a team man, his ability to hold an end and build partnerships to allow shotmakers to play their shots and then produce big shots if needed. .

Sandhu stressed how close they were. “Even in the making of the film ‘1983’ I gave a lot of information to the actor who played him because he was my room partner, what he looked like then, the body language, how he played his plans, after hitting how he would react. “

Sharma has been the national coach twice, in 2004-5 and 2008-11. He has also served as a First Class Umpire and Match Umpire and a member of the Cricket Advisory Board of the Delhi Cricket Association.

Sharma is survived by his wife, two daughters and son.

(Entrances from Sanjjev K Samyal, Somshuvra Laha)

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