Yashpal Sharma, 1983 World Cup winning cricketer, passes away

Former India and 1983 World Cup-winning cricketer Yashpal Sharma passed away due to heart attack on Tuesday.

Yashpal Sharma in action. (File Photo)   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Best remembered for his exploits in the 1983 World Cup, Yashpal Sharma succumbed to a massive heart attack on Tuesday morning. He was 66.

Known for his gritty batting, immaculate fielding and brisk running between the wickets, Yashpal returned home from his morning walk and collapsed. He is survived by wife, two daughters and a son.

During a career between 1973 and 1993, Yashpal played Ranji Trophy for Punjab (47 matches), Haryana (14) and Railways (6).

READ: Yashpal Sharma: A batsman of immense resilience, a man of few words

In an international career from 1978 to 1985, Yashpal was never out for a duck in 42 ODIs. During his 37-Test career that began at Lord’s, Yashpal’s 140 against England at Chennai in 1982, was the highpoint.

His top-score was part of a 316-run stand with wrist-artist G. Viswanath who scored a career-high 222. Yashpal “learnt by watching the master at work” as the duo batted throughout the second day.

Sheer resolve

Yashpal made up for limited strokes through sheer resolve. Perpetually battling the fear of being dropped, Yashpal turned circumspect. That perhaps explained his caution until the first 40-50 runs before shifting gears.

One such innings resulted in his maiden Test century, against Australia at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla, in 1979. Following a ‘pair’ in the previous Test at Kanpur, Yashpal was desperate.

For the better part of his half-century, Yashpal was booed for his defensive approach. Thereafter, he made up for the lost time by going after Peter Sleep. Three consecutive sixes into the stands behind midwicket and instantly and Yashpal was the darling of the crowd.

READ: Gundappa Viswanath remembers ‘gritty cricketer’ Yashpal Sharma

A similar approach in ODIs rescued India thrice during the historic 1983 World Cup-triumph!

In the opener against two-time champion West Indies, Yashpal scored a 120-ball 89 in India’s 262 for eight in 60 overs.

Reviving the innings

K. Srikkanth, Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath, Sandeep Patil and Kapil Dev fell with just 141 on the board, but Yashpal and Roger Binny resurrected the innings with a 73-run sixth wicket stand against the likes of Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshal and Joel Garner.

The resultant 34-run defeat was the first for West Indies in World Cup.

In a must-win game against Australia, Yashpal top-scored with 40 in India’s 247 in 55.5 overs. Here, the attack he negotiated, included Geoff Lawson, Rodney Hogg, Tom Hogan and the feared Jeff Thomson.

After Madan Lal and Binny took four wickets each in India’s 118-run triumph, Yashpal’s contribution stood pushed into the background. But skipper Kapil Dev never missed an opportunity to underline Yashpal’s role.

In the tense semifinal against England, Yashpal once again delivered with a calculated, unbeaten 61 off 120 deliveries as India chased down 214 with six wickets to spare.

Even after close to four decades, the image of Yashpal helping a Bob Wills delivery on its way to the deep square-leg fence is still fresh in the minds of many.

Yashpal leaves behind memories of his modest, yet memorable, contributions in a triumph that changed the face of Indian cricket forever.

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