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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Yashpal Sharma, India’s 1983 Cricket World Cup Hero Passes Away

In A Career He Scored 1606 Runs In 37 Tests With Nine Fifties And Two Remarkable Centuries For National Team

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
I am a mumbai based journalist having worked with many daily newspapers.

INDIA. Mumbai: Former India cricketer and one of the heroes of the 1983 World Cup win, Yashpal Sharma passed away due to a cardiac arrest at his residence in NOIDA in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday morning. 

He was 66 and is survived by his wife Renu Sharma, daughters Pooja and Priti Sharma, and son Chirag Sharma. He suffered a heart attack after returning from a morning walk and collapsed at around 7.30 am at his residence. He was rushed to hospital, but couldn’t survive.

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Yashpal was India’s second-highest scorer of the 1983 World Cup with an aggregate of 240 runs from 8 innings at an average of 34.28. Born on August 11, 1954, in Ludhiana, the former Punjab cricketer was regarded as a gifted middle-order batsman. In a career spanning from 1979 to 1983, Yashpal played 37 Tests for India and scored 1606 runs with two centuries and nine fifties. Yashpal made his debut in 1979 against England and added substance to the Indian middle order.

Yashpal Sharma(extreme right) is seen rejoicing after the 1983 Cricket World Cup victory.(file pic)

Yashpal first hogged the limelight when he scored 260 for Punjab schools against Jammu & Kashmir schools in 1972. Within two years, he was in the state team and a member of the North Zone team that won the Vizzy Trophy. His first major innings in first-class cricket was a 173 in the Duleep Trophy for North, against the South Zone which had Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, and Venkataraghavan.

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In Ranji Trophy, where he represented three teams — Punjab, Haryana, and Railways –, Yashpal played 160 matches amassing 8,933 runs which included 21 centuries with the highest score of 201 not out. He was an umpire too and stood in a couple of women’s ODIs. The multi-faceted former player also served as coach of the Uttar Pradesh Ranji team.

Post-retirement he was involved in various roles — including umpire and selector — with the Indian cricket board (BCCI), Punjab, and Haryana cricket, and also served as cricket expert with TV channels. He was also a national selector for two stints — 2003-2006 and 2008 — and backed then-India captain Sourav Ganguly during the player’s tiff with coach Greg Chappell. He later served as the coach of Uttar Pradesh.

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Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar expressed shock at his teammate’s demise. Speaking to the “Transcontinental Times” he said that  “It is unbelievable. He was the fittest among all of us. He was a vegetarian, teetotaller and very particular about his morning walks. I am just shocked. “As a player, he was a proper team man and a fighter. I fondly remember the 1979 Test against Pakistan in Delhi. We both had a partnership that helped us save the game. I knew him since my university days. Still can’t believe it,” he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to pay a glowing tribute to Yashpal Sharma. The Prime Minister said he was “anguished by his passing away” and extended his condolences to Yashpal Sharma’s family. “Shri Yashpal Sharma Ji was a much-beloved member of the Indian cricket team, including the legendary 1983 squad. He was an inspiration for teammates, fans as well as budding cricketers. Anguished by his passing away. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti,” PM Modi tweeted.

Batting great Sachin Tendulkar paid tribute to former batsman Yashpal Sharma, who died of cardiac arrest on Tuesday morning. Tendulkar said that he has “fond memories” of watching Yashpal bat in the 1983 World Cup.”Shocked and deeply pained by the demise of Yashpal Sharma Ji. Have fond memories of watching him bat during the 1983 World Cup. His contribution to Indian cricket shall always be remembered. My sincere condolences to the entire Sharma family”, Sachin Tendulkar tweeted. Captain of the ’83 team Kapil Dev broke down when a news agency contacted him and could only say, “I won’t be able to speak.”

Meanwhile, the cricket fraternity including Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh also condoled the death of the former India cricketer on social media. Yashpal’s former team-mate Kris Srikkanth wrote, “Sad to hear the demise of my former teammate and friend #YashpalSharma! He was one of the main heroes who helped us lifting the 1983 world cup! May his soul rest in peace.” UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and several IPL teams including KKR also condoled his death.

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