It was great catching up with one of India’s greatest cricketers Dilip Vengsarkar, who spoke his heart to Gulf News in a one-to-one chat.
We discussed how he conquered Lord’s by being the only overseas batsman to score three hundreds at the ‘Home of Cricket’. He confessed how, after his first innings at Lord’s was a duck, he was very nervous as he stepped out for the second innings. He went on to rattle a famous century and helped India save that Test match. In India’s 1982 tour of England, Vengsarkar scored another hundred but could not help India save the game — but the third ton at Lord’s was special as it helped India win their first Test match at the famous ground and also made him the only overseas batsman to score three consecutive hundred in three series, 1978, 1982 and 1986. He added that the hundred at Leeds was more special as India went to win the series 2-0 and he was the deservedly named Man of the Series for scoring 360 in the three Test matches.
We then discussed about how he felt being a member of the World Cup-winning squad of 1983 which changed the face of Indian cricket and he insisted nothing could ever beat that feeling, even though he did not play in the final, as it allowed India to be recognised as a force in the one-day format.
Vengsarkar also has six centuries against the fearsome West Indies whom he rates as the best bowling attack of the world and had a battery of five fast bowlers playing and six sitting in the dugout. Every hundred he scored was special as it came against the best bowling attack in the world.
Dilip had a successful stint as Chairman of selectors when India recorded his last Test series win in England in 2006 under Rahul Dravid’s captaincy. And also India winning the T20 World Cup in 2007 which was another feather in his cap.
When I asked him about one special knock of unbeaten 139 against Haryana, he said he still feels sad about the loss by just two runs but he is proud of Mumbai winning 41 times the Ranji Trophy finals.
When I asked him about India’s current series in England and what went wrong at Leeds for the visitors, he said the batsman were not applying themselves and gave credit to England bowlers for coming back to win that Test match. He said the one piece of advice he would give Virat Kohli — who is going through a lean patch in the series — is to be patient and spend time at the crease and not push for balls which are outside the off stump.
He believes a big score is around the corner for Kohli and the Oval in the upcoming Test is one ground he can get it. Will India win the series? Vengsarkar believes so if the batsman put on the runs.
He thinks India should play an extra batsman with Suryakumar Yadav and should definitely include Ravichandran Ashwin ahead of Ravindra Jadeja.
He is called deservedly ‘The Colonel’ as bowlers feared him when he came out to bat and playing 116 Test matches was no mean feat in the highest form of cricket.