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England can pose a threat to India in the World Cup: Dilip Vengsarkar

He shared stories of his former roommates, identifying MS Dhoni's talent and KL Rahul's prospects in this team.

Dilip Vengsarkar
Dilip Vengsarkar. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The commercial capital of the country is as famous for its mass production of legendary batsmen, as it is for Vada Pav and the Queen’s Necklace. Visit the Bombay Gymkhana, and you will hear plenty of stories around how Mumbai became the pioneer of batting greats and the teammates who turned into friends and brothers.

How Sanjay Manjrekar and Sachin Tendulkar aroused Vengsarkar’s Nyctophobia

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Dilip Vengsarkar, the world’s best middle-order batsman between 1983 and 1988, has one such story to tell. Sanjay Manjrekar, Sachin Tendulkar and Vengsarkar shared a great camaraderie with each other, despite belonging to different age groups. Though the oldest of the three, Vengsarkar had child-like traits, among which was the fear of sleeping alone in the room.

“I always had this tendency of imagining things every time I was left alone. When I was the captain of the Indian Cricket Team, I used to request the hotel to not allot me a single suite but the captain, as has always been the case, has to be on his own,” the former India captain and chairman of selectors told CricTracker.

“Sanjay (Manjrekar) and Sachin (Tendulkar) knew about my fear of being alone and would thus come up with tricks to scare me. They once made up a ghost story to intimidate me, and that scared me so much that I went to sleep in their room that night!”

Vengsarkar was a part of India’s first-ever World Cup title in 1983, a trophy which revolutionised the game in India. But due to an injury, the batsman had to sit out in the final against West Indies. Coincidentally, he also missed the semi-final of the 1987 WC with an upset stomach. When recalling Indian cricket’s most glorious day, Vengsarkar lamented missing out on the final chapter of the historical script.

“I got injured against the West Indies in the league game at a time when I was in good form. Malcolm Marshall’s delivery hit me on the jaw which resulted in seven stitches. That was the end of the World Cup up for me. But it still remains the most memorable moment for me as we won the silverware for the first time ever,” the ‘colonel’ reminisced.

83 The Film

Plenty has been written and re-written on the 1983 victory, but for the first time, India’s journey to the mighty title will be shown on the big screen. The movie, titled ‘83’, is set for a 2020 release but has already created plenty of buzz, thanks to Ranveer Singh’s energetic appearances in all of India’s matches in this World Cup.

“Looking forward to the movie”, said Vengsarkar. Marathi actor Adinath Kothare will be playing the 64-year-old’s role. “I met Adinath to discuss the role as he wanted to know more about stories that happened off the field. He is a great actor and I am positive he will do justice to the role.”

India at the 2019 World Cup

Indian team, World Cup, World Cup 2019
Indian team. (Photo Source: Twitter)

There have been concerns around India’s opening combination after Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out of the remainder of the World Cup due to a thumb injury. KL Rahul scored a careful half-century against Pakistan, but many believe that against a quality opponent, the substitute opener might succumb to pressure. Vengsarkar, however, has a different view.

“I personally feel KL Rahul was a very good option at no. 4. But now that he is opening, it brings us to the no. 4 muddle once again. I haven’t really watched Vijay Shankar bat much, but I guess he is the best bet at no. 4.”

India has depth in both its batting and bowling departments and is slowly emerging as the team to beat. But Vengsarkar feels that India will have to be wary of England. “England are a strong side – Batting, bowling and then the fielding….the fielding is also outstanding. If at all India end up stuttering, it might be against England,” he said.

Kapil Dev’s Blitzkrieg in 1983

Among several outstanding knocks in the World Cups – from Sachin’s emotional ton against Kenya after his father’s death to Gautam Gambhir’s gritty 97, Vengsarkar singled out Kapil Dev’s 175 in 1983 as the best innings by an Indian in the World Cup.

“At 24, a young Kapil rescued India from what could have been a humiliating defeat. India were playing Zimbabwe and after opting to bat first, found themselves at 19/5. Then walked in the captain who crafted a knock of 175, which not only decided the fate of the game but also India’s fate in the tournament. So I think that’s the best innings by an Indian in the World Cups.”

The man who found Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Vengsarkar became the chairman of the national selection committee in 2006, but even before that, he played a crucial role in MS Dhoni’s national call-up. He was the head of the Talent Resource Development Officer’s (TRDO) wing, which was in existence from 2002 to 2006.

TRD officers had noticed Dhoni’s batting genius in a Ranji Trophy One-Dayer and updated the Colonel on the, he then recommended Dhoni for national selection to Kiran More, the then chairman of the selection committee.

But a more prominent role that Vengsarkar played in Dhoni’s career, was handing over the captaincy to him for the T20 World Cup 2007. By then, Dhoni had not even captained his state team.

“Dhoni was already a great batsman that time, and his approach to the game was also unique. And then, of course, his cool demeanour, which went down to become the trademark of his captaincy. His body language always exuded positivity, which is a very important captaincy trait. Making a note of all this, the decision to have him at the team’s helm was made”

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