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Monday, August 02, 2021

‘Chhodna nhi’: Gundappa Viswanath recalls his epic partnership with Yashpal Sharma

Yashpal Sharma and Gundappa Viswanath stitched an epic partnership of 316 and batted the entire day in the fifth Test between India and England at the Chepauk in 1982.

Written by Rahul Sadhu |
Updated: July 14, 2021 9:03:28 am
yashpal sharmaYashpal Sharma's best performance came in the 1982 Chennai Test when he made 140 in a stand of 316 with Gundappa Viswanath against England.

Former India cricketer Gundappa Viswanath remembers his teammate Yashpal Sharma as a ‘total cricketer’. Together they had battled for an entire day against England in the 1982 Chennai Test and stitched a mammoth 316-run stand. While Viswanath scored 222, Sharma recorded his best score in Test cricket by stroking his way to 140.

Sharma, who would have turned 67 next month, passed away on Tuesday, due to a cardiac arrest. He represented India in 37 Tests and 42 ODIs.

He is best known for his magnum opus with Viswanath in the Madras (now Chennai) Test as they became only the third Indian pair to remain not out throughout a day’s play.

“Playing a whole day in Test cricket is a unique achievement and not many people have done it. The two of us playing the whole day was memorable. He was a very good cricketer, hardworking, a team man and I would say a total cricketer,” Viswanath told The Indian Express.

The Chennai Test, which began on January 13, 1982, saw India in a spot of bother early on.

“The pitch was a bit bouncy and we lost Sunil Gavaskar and Pranab Roy early on. Dilip Vengsarkar was hit by a Bob Willis bouncer and retired hurt,” recalled Viswanath.

India were 150/2, but three of their batsmen were back in the pavilion.

“It was then that Yashpal came in. At the start, we spoke to each other and decided to take a cautious approach and tried to be there in the middle.”

While Vishwanath with his touch strokeplay scored 222 off 374 deliveries, Sharma’s knock was guts and determination as he scored 140 in 298 balls and spent more than 490 minutes at the crease. The entire partnership lasted ten-and-a-quarter hours and that too against an England bowling attack comprising Willis, Ian Botham and Derek Underwood.

“He played superbly and it was an attractive innings. He kept egging me on saying, “Vishy Bhai, chhodna nhi, hum dono aaj khelenge (don’t give up, both of us will keep playing). Towards the end of the day, he kept telling me to play the long innings and inspired me by saying, “Ab pura din khelenge (we will bat the entire day)“.

“So that was in my mind and we both dug deep and remained unbeaten.”

Today Sharma’s death has upset Vishwanath.

“The news is very shocking for me. I had never heard anything from anyone that he was unwell. So I am still not able to believe that he is no more. My condolences to his family and I hope they can bear through this pain” he signed off.

Sharma played 160 first-Class matches and scored 8933 runs in addition to 1859 runs in List A cricket. He also served as a national selector from 2004 to 2005 and later from 2008 to 2011.

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