In a star-studded Indian side of the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath, Kapil Dev and Gundappa Viswanath during the 1980s, Yashpal Sharma’s contribution and presence was always overshadowed. But in his 79-match international career, Yashpal produced quite a few memorable knocks, three of which were part of India’s historic 1983 World Cup campaign. Remembering the former Indian cricketer, who also served twice as the national selector of the Indian team, we look back at his memorable World Cup display and the unforgettable 140 against England in the 1981/82 series.
India’s 1983 World Cup hero
While many may not remember the stat, but Yashapl was India’s second-highest run-getter in their victorious journey with 240 runs in 8 innings at an average of 34.28. And the incredible story began during India’s opener against the mighty West Indies, the two-time world champions and the overwhelming favourites to retain the title. And like most had expected, India had gone three down for just 76 runs after being put to bat first. Yashpal then stitched a gritty 49-run stand alongside Sandeep Patil before weaving a cautious 73-run stand with Roger Binny. Yashpal’s valiant 12-ball 89, which included nine boundaries, had helped India recover and post a 263-run target. Binny and Ravi Shastri put on a brilliant bowling performance as India folded the champions for 228, leaving the Windies and world cricket stunned.
The win definitely set the tone for India as dark horses silently marched towards uncharted territory. With a win away from a maiden semifinal appearance, India encountered the Aussies in a virtual quarterfinal. Opting to bat first, India got off to a slow and poor start, again losing their top three for just 65 and it was Yashpal’s clinical and cautious batting that came to the rescue. His run-a-ball 40 along with Sandeep’s 25-ball 30 helped India recover as they finished with 247 on the board. Madan Lal and Binny then picked four wickets each to bundle the Aussies for just 129.
Yashpal’s best performance however came in the semifinal game against hosts England. The bowlers had restricted England to 213 with Kapil picking three wickets. In reply, India lost their top two wickets for just 50 before Amarnath and Yashpal added a valiant 92-run partnership. Yashpal later dictated the terms, scoring 63 runs off nine overs alongside Sandeep. He eventually finished with 61 off 115 as India reached the World Cup final.
The record partnership against England
The final Test of the five-game series against England was held in Chennai, which was a high-scoring affair eventually leading to a slow-paced draw, witnessed a third-wicket partnership of 415 runs, almost 65 per cent of India’s score in the two innings, which was stitched by three players. Dilip Vengsarkar scored 71 off 97 before walking back retired hurt before Yashpal joined Viswanath to script a 316-run stand which spanned ten and a quarter hours. Viswanath scored 222 which was the highest score by an Indian batsman against England, while Yashpal added 140 runs off 298 balls, with the partnership then being the highest for any wicket in Tests between India and England. India declared their innings at 481/4 before Graham Gooch’s 127 guided the visitors to 328.