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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Sachin Tendulkar praises Dilip Vengsarkar, Sunil Gavaskar at Wankhede felicitation

Sachin Tendulkar recalled Dilip Vengsarkar's tears and Sunil Gavaskar's letters as they were felicitated at the Wankhede Stadium with a stand and hospitality box respectively named after them.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Mumbai |
Updated: October 31, 2021 9:49:51 am
Dilip Vengsarkar with his family at the Wankhede Stadium. (Express Photo by Devendra Pandey)

“Now if we are watching that stand in his name, it is the tribute to those tears,” said Sachin Tendulkar as he pointed toward the stand in the Wankhede Stadium newly named after former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar.

The Mumbai Cricket Association organised a glittering function on Friday evening where they honoured two former Indian captains. Vengsarkar was felicitated with the stand, and a hospitality box was renamed after Sunil Gavaskar who completed 50 years since making his international debut in 1971.

Tendulkar meanwhile, recalled the day when Vengsarkar walked into the Stadium’s dressing room, teary eyed after Mumbai lost to Haryana in a close Ranji Trophy final in the 1990-91 season final.

“It was the last day and we lost the final by a run. I will never forget his reaction, we lost the game, he was walking back to the dressing room and I saw tears in his eyes,” Tendulkar said. “Inside the dressing room, he sat and had his towel on his face. It was the moment I realised what commitment and passion is. I realised what Mumbai cricket’s khadoos pan is.”

Vengsarkar scored an unbeaten 139 in that match as the hosts, Mumbai, chased the 355-run target the Kapil Dev led Haryana side had put up in the that final. With just two runs needed, Mumbai saw number eleven Abey Kuruvilla getting run out.

Tendulkar further added, “He was such a big player then, he had played 100 Test matches and he was playing for Mumbai and he had tears in his eyes. Now if we are watching that stand in his name, it is the tribute to those tears. When I played for Mumbai, we played with such passion and commitment because we have role models in front of us.”

The former great also recalled Vengsarkar giving him a Gun & Moore cricket bat, and then had him bat during the Indian team’s net session when Tendulkar was just 14. Vengsarkar had also requested Dev to bowl to the then teenager.

Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar at the felicitation ceremony at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. (Express Photo by Devendra Pandey)

Talking about Gavaskar, Tendulkar remembered the 72-year-old had sent him a letter when he didn’t win the ‘Best Junior Cricketer Award for Bombay’ in 1987. Gavaskar had penned a message telling Tendulkar not to lose heart, as there was another player in the past who had not received that same award.

“The letter was the biggest award for me. I still remember the line of the letter, it stated, ‘If you see the list of winners, you’ll find one name missing. And that person hasn’t done badly in Test cricket,’” Tendulkar said about the letter where Gavaskar mentioned that he too hadn’t won that accolade.

Gavaskar later talked about achieving what he did because of his late Uncle Madhav Mantri. He told the story of how his uncle, a former India player, had many Indian team caps in his cupboard and one day he asked him for one. But his mother told him that if he played cricket, he would have to face the pain as the ball is too hard.

“He said he won’t give this cap to me because one has to earn it, and it takes a lot of hard work to get it,” Gavaskar remembered.

The MCA had also celebrated the centenary year of late Madhav Mantri by naming a local tournament after him.

Vengsarkar meanwhile recalled the memory of when he first saw a Test match, in 1974, from the stand which is now named after him. He had watched that game along with his coach VS Patil, and played his first game when the stadium was in its construction stage. The former chairman of the selection committee praised Gavaskar and said he never saw an opener like him and a batsman like Gundappa Viswanath and Tendulkar.

The function began with Viswanath’s long speech where he praised Gavaskar. Looking at the time taken in his speech, Vengsarkar quipped, “Today also Vishy scored 250 runs, I sat with my pads on and was wondering whether my batting will come today or not. It has happened in past Test matches, he is a Test player.”

Gavaskar in his humorous way ended, “You (MCA) in the year of 1965, didn’t give me best junior cricketer award, it became an inspiration for me that today you have given me this hospitality box.”

The function was also attended by former MCA-BCCI president Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

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