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13 Facts about Dilip Vengsarkar: The best there ever was

Dilip Vengsarkar Test
Sport, Cricket, pic: July 1990, 1st Cornhill Test Match at Lords, England v India, Dilip Vengsarkar, India, who played in 116 Test matches for India (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

Batting in Test cricket is something more than just wielding the bat. Especially, batting at no.3, the pivotal role in the batting order is a test of class and character. As far as Dilip Vengsarkar was concerned, he was India’s best bet in that slot, of course until Rahul Dravid made his way into international cricket. ‘Form comes and goes, but class remains’. And in the case of Dilip Vengsarkar, his class and skill remained with him right through his career. Here are a few compelling facts about the former Indian skipper.

1. Birth:

Dilip Balwant Vengsarkar was born on the 6th of April 1956 at Rajapur, Maharashtra.

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2. 1975 Irani Trophy:

Dilip Vengsarkar announced himself to the Indian cricketing arena in the 1975 edition of the Irani Cup. At the age of 19, he was a part of the Bombay side that had won the 1974-75 Ranji Trophy and would face up to the might of a Rest of India side led by Bishan Bedi. The team included Indian heavyweights such as EAS Prasanna, Madan Lal, and GR Vishwanath. Batting against them on a turning track at Nagpur, Vengsarkar smashed a magnificent 110, making him an instant success.

3. The best there ever was:

Vengsarkar comes from a long line of Indian batsmen. Boasting of a tall yet skinny stature, he was almost suited for batting. His tall build ensured that he had the ability to cut, hook and pull with authority. The likes of Dennis Lillee, Michael Holding, and Joe Garner wouldn’t have been as frightening to Vengsarkar as they would have been to other batsmen.

4. 1983 World Cup:

His prolific Test career, his ODI career was something of a disappointment. He was a part of the side that won the 1983 World Cup. However, he played little or no part in the victory despite the title that changed the course of Indian cricket history.

5. A run machine:

While most elegant batsmen find themselves in serious run crunches, Vengsarkar’s brightness ensured that he was indeed a run machine. In 116 Test matches, he amassed 6868 runs at an average of 42 with 17 tons to his name. At the time of his retirement, Vengsarkar was only behind Sunil Gavaskar in the list of top run-scorers.

6. India captaincy:

Following the 1987 World Cup, Vengsarkar was made skipper, taking over from the charismatic Kapil Dev. Although he started with two centuries in his first series as captain, his captaincy period was turbulent and he lost the job following a disastrous tour of the West Indies in early 1989 and a stand-off with the Indian cricket board

7. The Gavaskar-Vengsarkar stand:

In 1979, the Indians hosted the West Indies in a Test series with the first Test played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. During the 1978–79 Test Series in India against the West Indies, he was involved in a partnership of over 300 runs with Sunil Gavaskar at Calcutta, with both batsmen scoring centuries.

8. The West Indian wall:

Surprisingly, Vengsarkar has been effective against the much-feared West Indies pace attack. Holding, Garner, Daniel, Croft and Roberts. These names could trigger death music down the spines of batsmen. However, for Vengsarkar, they were just another bowling unit. Of the 17 Test centuries, 6 came against the West Indies.

9. The grass at Lord’s:

The grass of Lord’s, the home of cricket is a special place in Vengsarkar’s heart. He has scored three consecutive centuries at Lords thus becoming the only batsman at the time to do so.

10. A summer to remember:

Vengsarkar’s best moment in cricket came on India’s 1986 tour of England. He was adjudged as the man of the series as the Indians won the Test series 2-0. He also was the highest run-getter with the bat, amassing 360 runs in 3 Tests.

11. Mid-1980s watershed:

Since 1985, Vengsarkar has smashed Test centuries against almost all cricketing nations except New Zealand. At this pinnacle of his career, he was rated as the best batsmen in the Coopers and Lybrand rating (a predecessor of the PWC ratings).

12. Indian Knighthood:

He has been awarded the Arjuna Award as well as Wisden Cricket of the Year award for his contribution towards Indian cricket. He was also awarded the prestigious CK Nayudu lifetime award by the BCCI.

13. ‘No commentary for me!’:

Vengsarkar runs a cricket academy in Mumbai called Elf-Vengsarkar academy. He never ventured into commentary despite his amazing speaking ability. Instead, he has served the BCCI as national selector as well as match referee in 2006 and presently is the Cheif of the MCA.

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