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Former India opener Chetan Chauhan loses battle against Covid-19

A gritty opener, a fine cricket administrator and a hard-working minister – that's how Chetan Chauhan, who lost battle to Covid-19 in a Gurgaon hospital Sunday, would always be remembered as.

The 73-year-old, a cabinet minister in the Yogi Adityanath's Uttar Pradesh government, tested positive of Covid-19 last month and was admitted in the Sanjay Gandhi PGI hospital in Lucknow initially before being moved to Gurgaon's Medanta Hospital.

A two-time Lok Sabha Member of Parliament, Chauhan breathed his last today after a multi-organ failure.

Notwithstanding his decent performance as a politician in the second innings of his life, the gentleman cricketer will always be remembered as 'Little Master' Sunil Gavaskar's best opening partner.

Chauhan played 40 Test matches and seven ODIs for India from 1969 to 1981. He and Gavaskar shared many vital stands, including 10 century partnerships. It was at The Oval in 1979 that the two put on a courageous display, stitching together an opening partnership of 213 runs, which came in the second innings. Together they put on 3010 runs in 59 innings, an Indian record which stood intact for a long time before Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir went past the mark.

Born in Bareilly less than a month before India got independent in 1947, Chauhan also showed his domination in first-class cricket, amassing over 11000 runs from 179 games, representing Maharashtra and Delhi.

However, his biggest regret was to not get to a three-figure mark in Test cricket. The closest he came to scoring a Test ton was a score of 97 made against hosts Australia in the second Test at Adelaide on India's tour of Australia in 1981.

"Sad that Chetan Chauhan's fight against Corona ended with the gutsy opener falling prey.. RIP Chetan Chauhan! By far the most frequent & lasting partner of great SMG (Gavaskar). Chetan was all of sheer grit/determination and ever willing to stay in the shadow of illustrious SMG – yet rub shoulders with the high & mighty!" tweeted former India skipper Bishan Singh Bedi.

After his retirement, Chauhan served as the President of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) and was also its vice-president, secretary and chief selector. He was appointed as manager of the Indian cricket team that toured Australia in 2007-08 and played an extremely important role managing well the unfortunate 'monkeygate' episode involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds.

In 1980-81, he was bestowed with the prestigious Arjuna Award.
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<p dir="ltr" lang="en">Shocked to hear about the passing of Shri. Chetan Chauhan ji. May his soul rest in peace and my thoughts and prayers are with his family. ?</p>
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) <a href="https://twitter.com/imVkohli/status/1294995806756380673?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 16, 2020</a></blockquote>
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"I am deeply anguished to learn of the passing away of Shri Chetan Chauhan. I have spent so much time with him when he was the Indian cricket team’s manager. Not only was he a tough opening batsman but was a person with a tremendous sense of humour and had a tremendous attachment to Indian cricket. This year needs to be forgotten as it has taken a lot of dear people away. He will always remain with us. May God give strength to his family to overcome this loss," said Indian cricket board President Sourav Ganguly, a former skipper of the national team himself.

"Saddened to hear about the demise of Chetan Bhai. He always had encouraging things to say to me and shared plenty of stories from his cricketing days with the Indian team. May his soul Rest in Peace," added Sachin Tendulkar in his condolence message.

After initially serving as the sports minister in the Yogi government, Chauhan held the Sainik Welfare, Home Guards, PRD and Civil Security ministry.

"Shri Chetan Chauhan Ji distinguished himself as a wonderful cricketer and later as a diligent political leader. He made effective contributions to public service and strengthening the BJP in UP. Anguished by his passing away. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti," PM Narendra Modi said on Twitter..