Dilip Vengsarkar is in England but is unlikely to visit Lord’s. On his past four trips to Lord’s, he came up with three Test centuries – 103 in 1979, 157 in 1982 and 126 not out in 1986. He desperately wanted a fourth one on his 1990 appreparance. He could not.
“Believe me, that was the only time I was under pressure to get a century at Lord’s. Very anxious. Very excited,” Vengsarkar told Sportstar from Manchester, where he is with his Academy under-19 team.
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Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Denis Compton and Geoff Boycott had all hit three hundreds in a row at Lord’s. Vengsarkar would have been the only one to score four. He was on 52. A hundred beckoned him. “I got out to an ordinary ball. That hurt. When I really wanted a century at Lord’s, I could not,” a hearty laugh was a weak attempt by Vengsarkar to conceal his disappointment.
Lord of Lord’s was how the graceful strokeplayer has been acknowledged. A portrait of his batting stance adorns the walls of the Lord’s. “Only when I saw the picture at Lord’s did I realise I had a good stance,” Vengsarkar giggles. He was one of the most stylish batsmen on the circuit until he retired in 1992.
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“Why do you all remember me only when India prepares to play at Lord’s?,” Vengsarkar asks in jest. “I have four centuries at the Ferozeshah Kotla (in Delhi). Three of them have come against the West Indies and one against Pakistan. All against very strong bowling attacks.”
But Lord’s, confesses Vengsarkar, is exceptional. “There is history. There is tradition. It is a venue where you want to score a century. The ambience is great when the ground is packed. You get positive vibes when you walk out to bat at Lord’s. It’s really electrifying. And then John Arlott and Richie Benaud in the commentary box. What more could you ask for.”
As he reflected, “When I first played (in 1979) people were apprehensive. And then I got out for a duck. My first innings fetched nothing at Lord’s but I got a century in the second innings. It was a relief. Imagine a 'pair’ at Lord’s.”
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Vengsarkar believes England is a great place for cricket. “You don’t change your game. You adapt to the conditions. Good sunshine you make the most of it. When it is cloudy, you are tested. Every break means you start your innings afresh. It is challenging and nice too.”
He rates the 1986 century as the best. “India won that Test, the first time ever at Lord’s. Maninder (Singh) helped me get to the hundred. I was 85 when he joined. A few Tests ago, he had left me stranded at 98 (against Sri Lanka) by playing a cross-batted shot. I warned him not to play cross-batted. Told him he won’t go home if he did that,” a hearty laughter again.
Is he not tempted to visit Lord’s? “I am not sure but I hope India does well. My best wishes to the team.”
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