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July 2, 2007
Dilip Sardesai's peers pay tribute:
Dilip helped bring about a renaissance in Indian cricket. My first Test was in the West Indies in 1971 when he was perhaps at his very best. He showed us how to play fast bowling and in doing so gave us the confidence we needed to beat the West Indies. One of his great strengths was that he was always very positive and he spread that through the team. He was a great influence on me as a player and someone I always looked up to. He was a very popular member of the team and a bit of a prankster. He was great fun to have around the dressing room and he always lifted the spirits. I was lucky to have him there when I first broke into the Indian side in 1971.
He was perfect technically as a batsman. Unfortunately we made a good stroke player into an opening batsman, but he was my ideal No 3 or 4 batsman. He was very helpful, always open to youngsters, crazy about talking about the game, and was always willing to teach. Slightly outspoken, but people who understood him loved him and I was one of them. He played with me at the Associated Cement Companies, Mumbai, and then India. We had two tours together and he showed in each instance that he was a team-man.
A courageous cricketer and a very outspoken man, and that is where he couldn't get along with the Mumbai cricket people. I noticed him during the Times Shield in the late 1950s; though he looked like an ordinary upcoming batsman, he continued to improve and came up with impressive performances to come into national reckoning. I went personally, as captain of the Indian team, in 1961 to watch him make a brilliant century against Pakistan at Bangalore during the 1960-61 tour. He was in my list for the West Indies tour. Just before the Bridgetown Test, during the tour game against Barbados, I asked him if he would like to open since our regular openers had failed. His answer was a sound 'OK' and that showed his courage.
One of the best allround batsman of his time and it was a pleasure to watch him bat. A slightly shaky starter, but once he got going he was a delight. Two double-hundreds, first an unbeaten one against New Zealand at the CCI in partnership with the late Hanumant Singh and then in 1971 against the West Indies, prove that. I was at Brabourne when he played that stupendous knock. Along with Ajit Wadekar, he formed the backbone of the Bombay team and could take on any domestic attack.
He was a very defensive batsman, though technically correct than me. But he would always ask me how I could manage to hit boundaries and sixes. I would get sometimes frustrated at his inability to rotate the strike as he couldn't drop the bat and take the single which I did. He would sort of plead, "I'm trying". But he was a lovely opening partner, and just like my other opening partner Sunil Gavaskar, he had tremendous confidence and patience.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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