1983 was a momentous year for Indian cricket. Indian cricket changed forever with the World Cup win of 1983, and Indian fans recall it fondly till date. One of the stars and main architects of the World Cup triumph was Yashpal Sharma, whose consistent performances awed the fans and the opponents.
The veteran cricketer passed away on Tuesday, the 13th of July 2021 due to a massive cardiac arrest leaving the cricketing fraternity and his fans mourning. He was 66. He is survived by his wife, his son, and his two daughters. Remembered for his gutsy, defensive approach, his running between the wickets, and his fielding skills, Yashpal Sharma shall live on in the hearts of his fans and in the annals of cricketing history for as long as the game will survive. It is reported that Sharma collapsed on returning from his daily morning walk.
Let us remember the brilliant career this batsman had.
Yashpal Sharma pursued an active career in cricket from 1973 to 1993. In this span, he played for the national team of the country, along with playing 6 matches for Railways, 14 matches for Haryana, and 47 matches for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy, arguably the most prestigious tournament in the domestic cricketing circuit of India. From 1978 to 1985, he was a part of the Indian team. During this period, he played in a total of 42 ODIs and 37 tests.
He holds the distinction of never getting out for a duck in ODIs. Yashpal Sharma was known for being a gutsy, cautious player who only started playing his shots once he reached 25 or 30 runs. Many of his teammates remember him as one of the fittest members of the team, a teetotaller who took his fitness very seriously. He was also keen on reminding his friends and teammates about the importance of fitness and eating healthy food.
He was also known for his shots. Yashpal Sharma had a beautiful cover drive and was very strong on the leg side. One of the consistent allegations against Indian batsmen was their inability to handle short-pitched bowling. Sharma, who boasted a solid defence, was also adept at handling short-pitched bowling. He was a middle-order batsman who made the bowlers toil to get his wicket. He was a man of few words, and often admitted that he preferred to listen more than speak. After retiring from cricket in 1992, he juggled various roles – including that of the selector, umpire and media expert. He scored a total of 1606 runs art an average of 33.5 in 37 tests and has 883 runs to his credit at an average of 28.5 from the 42 ODI matches.
Yashpal Sharma in the World Cup
Yashpal Sharma was at the peak of his cricketing career arguably when he played a major role in securing the World Cup. In the very opening match of the tournament, India was playing against West Indies, which was one of the best teams of the erstwhile cricketing world. He played a confident 89 off 120 balls in this match which set the tone for India for the rest of the tournament. In this match, most of the Indian batting line-up had departed early after putting up 141 on the board. Roger Binny and Sharma revived the innings with their 73 run partnership and the match finally ended with India defeating West Indies by 34 runs. The West Indian team then comprised greats like Viv Richards, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall.
This was then followed by a crucial 40 in an important game against Australia which was one of the most powerful teams in the erstwhile cricketing world. India put up 247 on the board with Sharma top scoring the game. Finally, India won the game by 118 runs with Roger Binny and Madan Lal picking up four wickets each. Sharma scored a brilliant 61 off 120 balls in the exciting and tense semifinal against England and helped India reach the target of 214. In the course of this innings, he stitched two important partnerships with Mohinder Amarnath and Sandip Patil. India won the match by six wickets and qualified for the final of the tournament. Fans remember Yashpal Sharma till date for these two crucial half-centuries he scored in the World Cup. He scored a total of 240 runs in the eight World Cup matches that India played.
Various sports personalities, including Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag have condoled the death of Yashpal Sharma. Yashpal Sharma may no longer be with us physically, but he shall live on through his exploits in cricket which no fan shall ever forget.