Two well-known celebrities – one from films and one from the field of cricket – passed away recently. While mourning the death of thespian actor Dilip Kumar and cricketer Yashpal Sharma, one of 1983 World Cup heroes, it is worth recalling how interconnected their lives were.
The connect between the two was revealed by Sharma in a recent interview to Deccan Chronicle.
Sharma recalled for the daily: “He (Dilip Kumar) was like my father. I am very saddened to hear the news of his passing. In fact, Yusuf Bhai (Dilip Kumar’s real name) changed my life by uplifting my career. In the 1974-75 domestic season, he had come to the Mohan Nagar Ground in Delhi to watch the Punjab vs UP Ranji knockout match. I had scored a hundred in both innings for Punjab and during our second innings, I noticed that some prominent personality had come in a car and was watching the match from a special seating area. I thought he must have been some top politician.”
Going on to share more details, Sharma said: “Later, Yusuf Bhai invited me for a chat and congratulated me for my century. ‘You have played an excellent game, I will recommend your name to someone,’ were his words. The next day, my photograph appeared alongside Yusuf Bhai in the newspapers and I was stunned. Only later did I get to know that Yusif Bhai went on to recommend me to the late Raj Singh Dungarpur, who was a prominent cricket administrator. Yusuf Bhai told Raj Singhji that I deserved to play for the country and my life was transformed thereafter.”
Sharma played 37 Test matches for India, scoring 1606 runs, and 42 ODIs scoring 883 runs. In his first class career, he played 160 matches scoring 8933 runs, while representing Punjab, Haryana and Railways.
It was for his remarkable performance in 1983 World Cup which India went on to win for the first time that made talk of the town. His total runs in the tournament were 240 at an average of 34.28 making him the second-highest scorer after skipper Kapil Dev.
In their first outing against the might West Indies, who India went to beat in a thrilling final, Sharma top-scored with 89 run in 120 balls, helping his side garner 262 runs and thereby winning by 34 runs. What is significant about this win was that it a morale booster for India and they gained the vital belief that they could lift the Cup which they ultimately did!