India’s 1983 World Cup hero Yashpal Sharma, admired for his gutsy middle-order batting skills has passed away after suffering a massive cardiac arrest in Delhi. Yashpal collapsed soon after returning from his morning walk. He was 66 and is survived by wife, two daughters and a son.
Yashpal, whose stroke-filled 61 in the 1983 World Cup Semi-Final against England at the Old Trafford is not something that comes to mind first when we talk about India’s 1983 World Cup win. But it was as crucial as Kapil Dev’s knock to get India win the crown.
His teammates relished the stroke-play prowess of Yashpal whenever they got together since.
Revisiting that innings at in 2017, Mohinder Amarnath remembered telling Sharma:
“I said I’ll go for it, tu aaram se khel (play calmly).
He said, “Haan, haan, Jim pa.”
“First over, I stepped down the track and hit a four.
Yash toh Punjabi hai, sahan nahin hua (Yash is a Punjabi, how could he hold back?).
Next over, he steps down and hits a four.
I told him, listen to me, thoda chill kar (relax a bit), we shouldn’t lose a wicket.
He said, “Yes Jim pa, no problem!”
Next ball, Yashpal hit Bob Willis for that statement six.
Yashpal Sharma’s 61 in the 1983 WC SF v England. The six off Bob Willis was a delightful stroke. This footage was shared by Yashpal Sharma himself on Twitter on June 25th pic.twitter.com/A3B9kBCkNC
— Sarang Bhalerao (@bhaleraosarang) July 13, 2021
Mohinder Amarnath went up to Yashpal and said: “Yaar, good shot, but why are you taking risks?
Yash said, all agitated, ‘Jim pa, you don’t know! He had abused me in Madras.’”
Yashpal Sharma top scored in the game with 61.
Commenting on his six against Bob Willis in the 1983 World Cup Semi Finals, former Indian Wicket Keeper Syed Kirmani said:
“That six he hit over fine-leg moving across his off-stump was nothing short of a T20 shot”.
The 1983 squad had met only a couple of weeks ago where everyone found Yashpal to be very fit and healthy.
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“It is unbelievable. He was the fittest among all of us. I had asked him that day when we met about his routine. He was a vegetarian, teetotaller, used to have soup for dinner and was very particular about his morning walks. I am just shocked,” his former teammate Dilip Vengsarkar said.
“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 which helped us save the game. I knew him since my university days. Still can’t believe it,” he added.
Yashpal played 37 Tests, scoring 1,606 runs, and 42 ODIs in which he made 883 runs.
In his post India team career, Yashpal was a national selector during early part of 2000s and an umpire.
In Ranji Trophy, Yashpal Sharma played for three teams, Punjab, Haryana and Railways, playing 160 matches amassing 8,933 runs which included 21 centuries. His highest Ranji Trophy score was 201 not out.
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