How the meeting with Dilip Kumar turned out to be the “turning point” in the life of Yashpal Sharma | Off the field

MUMBAI: It’s a well-known fact that Bollywood legend Dilip Kumar, who died on Wednesday at the age of 98, was an avid cricketer.
However, few people know that the comedian played a pivotal role in the career of a cricketer who was a key member of India’s famous 1983 World Cup victory – Yashpal Sharma. Yashpal, who appeared in 37 tests and 42 ODIs, scored 89 on 120 balls against a formidable attack from the Caribbean as India upset defending champions West Indies in the tournament’s opener, and then scored a fifty in the semifinals against England.
Impressed with his “temper” after seeing him beat in a Ranji Trophy match, Dilip Kumar recommended Yashpal’s name to his friend Rajsingh Dungarpur.
“I was playing a Ranji Trophy match for Punjab against Uttar Pradesh at Mohan Meakens Stadium in Ghaziabad during the 1974-75 season. I had already scored a hundred in the first heats, and I was scoring 80 in the second heats, when two-three cars arrived on the site. As usual, he was dressed in white. I thought it was a politician who came to watch the game. After the game, in the evening, I was told that someone wanted to meet me. He met me for 5-7 minutes. He squeezed my hand and said, “I like your temper. I’ll tell someone about you. It was extremely encouraging, inspiring for me to have a legendary superstar praise me. It was the turning point of my life. Hus dua (prayers) and my mehnat (hard work) helped me play for India, ”an emotional Yashpal told TOI on Wednesday.
Years later, Yashpal learned from Dungarpur that Dilip Kumar had indeed kept his word, speaking for him with the latter.
“In 1977, I made 173 when I debuted at the Duleep Trophy against Erapalli Prasanna and Chandrashekhar. It’s a century that put me on the front of the stage. In 1978, I was playing for Rest of India against Karnataka in Bangalore. The match took on enormous significance as the coaches were supposed to pick the Indian squad for the historic Pakistan tour – India’s first tour across the border in 20 years. As I walked back to the lodge after the day was over, as I hit 87, Dungarpur told me, “Your hard work has paid off. ‘Yusuf sahab’ had already recommended your name to us. ‘ He had said to Rajbhai: “I saw this boy from Punjab. He seems to have a good temper and the ability to perform at the highest level. He is doing well regularly. Keep an eye on him. “” In the end, the Indian team for this tour only saw two chosen youngsters – Kapil Dev and me! Yashpal recalls.
“At that time, Dilip Sahab was attending the Cricket Club of India (CCI). Dungarpur was the president of CCI, and I think that’s where he would have told him about me. When Dungarpur told me about it, I was delighted. Dungarpur’s words carried a lot of weight at the time, so Dilip Sahab’s recommendation really helped me, ”Yashpal said.
Touched by Dilip Kumar’s gesture, Yashpal went to meet him during a test match in Mumbai. “He was a father figure to me. I met him for the second time in my life during a test match in Mumbai, where he was shooting for the movie Kranti. It was the “day of rest” for this test. He was shooting for a fight scene with Manoj Kumar sahab. He met me for 10 minutes and said, “It’s great to see that you have been chosen for India”. He told me that he had told someone about me, but also that I had worked hard for it. My respect for him grew even more that day because, coming from Punjab, I didn’t even know him until he saw me play a match. What he did for me shows how passionate he was about cricket. It was a massive gesture on his part. I’m sure he must have helped other talented young people, ”said Sharma.
“Later, in 1983, I was on our World Cup winning team. How to forget a person like that! He left this world, but he will stay in my heart forever. What he did for me will stay with me forever, ”concluded the 66-year-old.


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