Mumbai: Former India batsman Yashpal Sharma has revealed that he managed to break into the national set-up only because of Bollywood super star Dilip Kumar. Thespian Kumar passed away at the age of 98 on Wednesday.
Like my father
“He (Dilip Kumar) was like my father. I am very saddened to hear the news of his passing,” Sharma, 66, told the reporter over the phone from his Delhi residence.
“In fact, Yusuf Bhai (Dilip Kumar’s real name was Yusuf Khan) 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 v 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.
“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,” recalled Sharma.
In the next few years, Sharma made his India debut both in the ODI and Test formats. Sharma became a regular middle-order batsman for Team India and emerged as one of the heroes of Kapil Dev’s 1983 World Cup-winning squad. Sharma played 37 Tests and 42 ODIs, scoring 1606 and 883 runs and averaged 33.5 and 28.8 respectively.
Just as Kumar had an interest in cricket, Sharma too closely followed the actor’s career. “I have seen most of his films. Once, I was even invited to watch the shooting of the movie, Kranti. It went on to be a blockbuster,” added Sharma.
Late Dilip Kumar also enjoyed his interactions with international cricket personalities. Former West Indies captain Sir Gary Sobers, in his autobiography, has mentioned one such interaction with the actor.
Former Kenya umpire Subhash Modi also recalled his meeting with him.
"I personally met Late Mr. Dilip Kumar & Saira Banu at the CCI during our cricket tour of India and Sri Lanka in 1975 with the Kenya Premier Club. Sir Dilip Saheb was the Mayor of Mumbai (Bombay then). Both were friendly and welcoming. Indeed, an outstanding and Iconic actor. RIP. He will be sadly missed", Modi, speaking from Kenya, said.