Achrekar was godsend to Indian cricket, says Sandhu

Former India and current Zimbabwe coach, Lalchand Rajput, too paid his tributes to Ramakant Achrekar.

"He (Achrekar) was a godsend to Indian cricket. Without him, I could not even think of making it big," said Balwinder Sandhu.   -  PTI

When Balwinder Singh Sandhu met Ramakant Achrekar at the Ghatkopar Jolly Gymkhana Grounds four decades ago, he wasn't sure whether he would pursue cricket seriously. As a teenager, he was more interested in spin, rather than pace.

However, a few days of training with Achrekar switched Sandhu's focus to pace. "Initially, I was a spinner, but gradually, he turned me into a pacer. He knew how to get the best out of a young cricketer," Sandhu told Sportstar on Wednesday, a few hours after Achrekar's demise.

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Slowly, over the years, he sharpened Sandhu's pace and encouraged him to be a fast bowler. "He would tell me to focus on the inswingers and also to bowl more overs. That helped me immensely," he said.

During the club games, Achrekar would instruct the team captain to give Sandhu more overs. "This was to make sure that I was getting enough opportunities. Those small things actually helped a young cricketer like me," Sandhu, a member of India's 1983 World Cup-winning team, pointed out.

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A hardworking man

Sandhu, though, was never made the captain of the side. "He trusted me a lot and also knew that if I was handed the captaincy,  I would bowl a few overs of spin as well, and he did not want that. His only objective was to see me transform into a good pacer," he reminisced.

"He was a godsend to Indian cricket. Without him, I could not even think of making it big. He was a hardworking man, whose only aim was to see his wards grow," he said, adding: "That made Achrekar sir special."

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Sad day

Former India and current Zimbabwe coach, Lalchand Rajput, too paid tributes to Achrekar. "It's a very sad day for Indian and Mumbai cricket , one of the legends who had produced a lot of cricketers and coaches is no more with us," Rajput said.