Yashpal Sharma ‘chested’ the savage Malcolm Marshall, writes Robin Roy

Despite assuring Jim Paa (Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath) that he would go slow, how could the gutsy Yashpal Sharma not take revenge against Bob Willis who had "sledged him in Madras"? True to script, Yashpal left his stumps, stepped outside the crease and flicked it over the leg side for a huge six!

When Jim paa asked him... what if you had got out? “No Jim pa, apne par bharosa hai”. And Yashpal won us the semi-final against England in the 1983 World Cup.

Though he was never considered a batsman with a swagger, Yashpal was highly regarded for his ability to crack a tough nut, decode any bowling attack, and send it to the cleaners.

He would often say, "I shared a strange relationship with Malcolm Marshall. The moment I would come in, he would at least hit me twice on the chest.’’

Yashpal was the connect that saw the transition of Team India – from being an awful ODI side, (he was part of the 1979 World Cup where India lost even to Sri Lanka) to becoming the World Champions.

In the 1983 tournament, he played a pivotal role by scoring 240 runs at an average of 34.28, including a match-winning 61 against England in the semis.

He may not have had the class of a Sunny Gavaskar or the flair and elegance of Colonel (Dilip Vengsarkar), but anyone who knew Yash paaji would vouch that he was guts 'personified'.

He would recount, "You know, I scored that 63 at Sabina Park Test in 1983 (just before the World Cup) and was the last batsman out. I came back to the dressing room, took off my T-shirt and staring at me with glee were Malcolm ki pyaar ke nishaani (the blood clots inflicted by his short deliveries). They were all great bowlers, but Malcolm was special. He was scary."

Trudging down the memory lane, Vengsarkar told FPJ, "I knew him from a very early stage in my career. He was a teetotaller, a vegetarian, used to have soup for dinner and had cut down on carbs, too. I have several good memories with Yash. I am shocked.

Twenty-eight years later after Kapil's Devils lifted the World Cup in 1983, the silent gutsy Yashpal, who was took those upper cuts on his chin and "chested" Marshal's blows, on July 13, "left the stumps" never to return. He collapsed at home after returning from his morning walk.

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