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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Yashpal Sharma, is no more !!

Can you identify this Cricketer, the unsung hero of World Cup 1983 ! – yes it is Yashpal Sharma, he manned covers gracefully those days, made a heroic 89 in the 1st match against WI and scored again in the Semis.  Remember before 1983, India had lost all its 6 matches in Cricket limited overs World Cup (60 overs those days !) [pic credit Blooming Buds school in Moga,  Punjab] 

Remember watching him play scoring a century and Gundappa Viswanath a double century grinding England bowlers in that Pongal test at Chennai in Jan 1982.  His presence at covers was to save lot of good shots and he was really a fast mover on the field.  He had toured England in 1979 (did not play in World cup) but debuted in the 2nd test at Lords on 2nd Aug 1979 under Srinivasan Venkatraghavan.  He had made his debut in ODI at Sialkot in Oct 1978 under Bishan Bedi.   

His moment of glory came at  Old Trafford, England’s second oldest test venue and one of the most renowned.   It was grand semi finals of WC 1983.  Bob Willis won the toss, their openers put on 69 at more than 4 an over — a fantastic platform considering the era. The wicket was slow, and not at all ideal for stroke-play. Indian bowlers and particularly the duo of Mohinder Amarnath and Kirti Azad choked the scoring.  England batsman struggled after a very good start from Greame Fowler and Chris Tavare.    Indian batting was much organized and they could romp home with 32 balls to spare.  Gavaskar 25; Krish Srikkanth 19; Mohinder46; Yashpal 61 – Sandeep Patil 51* and Kapil 1* saw them through. 

After Srikkanth and Gavaskar exited, Amarnath and Yashpal steadied the innings. Runs came at a slow, steady rate. The two picked the gaps and ran hard. It was this 92-run partnership that washed away all hope and when after 2/3rds – they opened up.  Mohinder hitting Marks for a 6 and Yashpal hitting Allot straight for a 6 and then audaciously moved inside and dispatching England’s fastest bowler Bob Willis over square for another.   A brilliant piece of fielding and throw by Allott ended the partnership and then Yashpal skied towards the end.    Sandeep Patil thrashed Willis again.  With scores level,   Willis called all his men over to the off-side to ensure their reaching the pavilion faster.  Sandeep Patil ended with an unbeaten half century.  Mohinder was the man of the match.

L Sivaramakrishnan made his debut  at St Johns in Apr 1983 -  the match was drawn – WI made 550 with centuries from Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Jeff Dujon  and Clive Lloyd.  For India, Ravi Shastri and Mohinder Amarnath made centuries – Vengsarkar made 94 while Kapil Dev got out at 98.  Gordon Greenidge batted on and on and left having hit a 6 and 14 4s, as he flew to his native Barbados to be with his ailing 2 year old daughter, who sadly passed away.   

                 Kapil Dev could not bowl due to a stiff-neck and the affable Yashpal Sharma bowled a solitary over and took his only wicket in Test Cricket that of centurion Desmond Haynes.  Yashpal who played 37 tests and 42 ODIs also took  the wicket of David Gower in an ODI at London in 1982. 

He was extremely fit during his playing days and continued to be healthy – he was a pure vegetarian. Sad to know that Yashpal Sharma is no more – passed away today due to massive cardiac arrest.  Om Shanthi to him.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
13th July 2021 

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