One of the India’s most interesting cricketers, Navjot Singh Sidhu turns 57 on Tuesday.
The younger generation may know him for his poetry and laughs on The Kapil Sharma Show, but he had a vibrant cricket career before his stint as a politician and television celebrity.
Sidhu used to be a ‘man in blue’ for nearly two decades before he dabbled in politics. The flamboyant cricketer was known as ‘sixer-Sidhu’ due to his aggressive style; he was never really fond of defence-style batting. He remained in the top order for a majority of his career in both international and domestic teams.
Very few can handle the pressure of a high-adrenaline and high-pressure environment like the cricket world cup. But Sidhu did his best and managed a half-century in his very first World Cup Match in 1987. He would later become the first batsman to score four consecutive fifties in his first-four ODI matches. In a career spanning 19 years, the jolly mood celebrity played 136 ODIs and scored 4413 runs. He also played 51 tests in which he had 3202 runs.
Let’s have a look at his five best knocks:
1. 93 against Pakistan in 1996
On March 9, 1996, Sidhu and Sachin Tendulkar opened the high-octane match of World Cup quarter final. When Sachin left the field with a meagre 31, Sidhu remained on his position till he got to 93. His contributing runs would eventually lead to a victory that sparked joy through the streets of India in a phenomenal win over our neighbours.
2. 101 against Pakistan in 1996
1996 was definitely a good year for our opener, especially when playing against Pakistan. During the Pepsi Sharjah Cup, Sidhu came into bat at number three. In another memorable partnership with Tendulkar, he destroyed the opposition. With bowlers like Saqlain Mushtaq and Waqar Younis in their peak form, he managed to score an impressive 101. With a total of 305 runs, India won this match.
3. 201 against West Indies in 1997
Let’s step away from fast-paced ODIs and move towards the ‘gentlemen’s game’ of test cricket. In his career-best performance, Sidhu scored a double-century during the second test of India against West Indies. In a match where the opener gets duck-out, the pressure for the following batsmen is enormous. But not for Sidhu. With his 200, India got to 436 in the first innings. The match, however, resulted in a draw.
4. 134* against England in 1993
India and England are a special kind of cricket enemies and their matches fall short of only India vs Pakistan excitement. During England’s tour of India in 1993, the sixth ODI felt really precarious when the two openers failed to make a mark. But Sidhu and captain Mohammad Azharuddin held their grounds. While Azharuddin left the ground at 74 runs, Sidhu saddled up and scored 134 not out, successfully chasing the target of 257 and getting team India another win.
5. 116 against New Zealand in 1989
After taking a five-year-long break from Test cricket, Sidhu made a comeback during New Zealand's 1988-89 Tour of India and what a comeback! Facing bowling legends like Sir Richard Hadlee and John Bracewell, the number three batsman managed an impressive century. The match led to India’s 1-0 lead in the series.