Former India cricketer Yashpal Sharma died of cardiac arrest on Tuesday morning, leaving the cricket fraternity in India in shock and disappointment. Yashpal’s is another celebrity death in recent times, after Bollywood star Dilip Kumar passed away last Wednesday aged 98. There is an interesting connect between the two late personalities, which Yashpal had revealed in a recent interview to Deccan Chronicle.
Paying condolences after the death of Dilip, Yashpal had revealed he had played a crucial part in his career.
“He (Dilip Kumar) was like my father. I am very saddened to hear the news of his passing," Yashpal had told the newspaper.
“In fact, Yusuf (Khan) Bhai (Dilip Kumar’s real name) changed my life by uplifting my career. In the 1974-75 domestic season, he had come to the Mohan Nagar Ground in Delhi to watch the Punjab v UP Ranji knockout match. I had scored a hundred in both innings for Punjab and during our second innings, I noticed that some prominent personality had come in a car and was watching the match from a special seating area. I thought he must have been some top politician.
“Later, Yusuf Bhai invited me for a chat and congratulated me for my century. ‘You have played an excellent game, I will recommend your name to someone,’ were his words. The next day, my photograph appeared alongside Yusuf Bhai in the newspapers and I was stunned. Only later did I get to know that Yusif Bhai went on to recommend me to the late Raj Singh Dungarpur, who was a prominent cricket administrator. Yusuf Bhai told Raj Singhji that I deserved to play for the country and my life was transformed thereafter."
Yashpal went on to play 37 Test matches for India, scoring 1606 runs, and 42 ODIs scoring 883 runs. He also played 160 first-class matches, representing Punjab, Haryana and Railways, and scored 8933 runs.
But he was best remembered internationally for his performances in India’s first World Cup win, in 1983. He aggregated 240 runs at an average of 34.28 to return as the second-highest scorer for India behind skipper Kapil Dev in the tournament.
Sharma had top-scored with 89 (off 120 balls) to help India make 262/8 in their 34-run victory over West Indies in their first match of the 1983 World Cup. That win in Manchester gave India the self-belief to go on and win the tournament.