India news October 20, 2010

Former India cricketer Parthasarthi Sharma dies

ESPNcricinfo staff

Parthasarthi Sharma, the former India and Rajasthan cricketer, has died at the age of 62. Sharma, who had been suffering from gallbladder cancer, played five Tests for India between 1974-77, averaging 18.70 with a high score of 54, and two ODIs.

A right-hand middle-order bat, Sharma had a successful start to his Test career, making 54 and 49 on debut against West Indies in Delhi in '74-75. He was less successful in the next Test, though, and was dropped for the rest of the series. He returned for India's tour of the Caribbean in 1975-76 but played one Test, opening with Sunil Gavaskar, and two more the following season at home to England. However, a highest score of 29 in those six innings brought his Test career to an end.

His first-class career with Rajasthan and Central Zone spanned two decades during which he scored 4372 runs averaging 38.69 in the Ranji Trophy, and 1379 runs at an average of 38.31 in the Duleep Trophy. He was a mainstay of the Rajasthan side that repeatedly won the Central Zone championship and finished runners-up several times in the national competition. He was also part of Central Zone's maiden triumph in the Duleep Trophy in 1971-72.

Post his playing days, Sharma coached the Rajasthan Ranji team and went on to become an acclaimed coach. One of his famous wards is Gautam Gambhir, who credited his transformation, from Test sidelines to being India's first-choice opener, to Sharma. "He is one man who has changed not only me as a player, but a lot of other players as well," Gambhir said. "The kind of technical knowledge he has is phenomenal.

"When I got dropped from the Test squad, and had this problem of falling across too much, I had tried everything possible. But he made that change possible. That was something I was working on for a long time, but the one thing that he changed, I give a lot of credit to him.

"He changed me completely as a player. My stance, my grip, my falling across, and the way we discussed how to go about things. [It was of] tremendous help to me, overall, as a person to and how to approach my cricket. A lot of credit goes to him for my performances over the last couple of years."

"I had seen him grow right from a ten-year-old boy," Salim Durrani, former India and Rajasthan cricketer said. "He had shown tremendous promise and talent. I feel he should have played a longer period for India"

Former India captain Bishen Bedi also paid tribute. "In the domestic arena he was an outstanding batsman," Bedi, who remembers Sharma's century against North Zone in the Duleep Trophy semi-final in Chandigarh in 1976, said. "It was an interesting match in that our own officials thought the opposition were favourites. But he [Sharma] played a brilliant knock and gave us a hard time till I bowled him. We were lucky to scrape through." North had made 327 in their first innings and Central fell two runs short, enabling North to qualify based on a first-innings lead.

Bedi shared many a social evening with Sharma and if there was a regret he felt that Sharma could have worked a little harder - something that would have helped him play for longer at the international level.