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Interesting anecdotes about Dilip Vengsarkar on his 60th birthday

Irani epic, 'Colonel' dislike, 1991 Ranji heartbreak, lord of Lord's are some interesting anecdotes mid-day digs out on...

Sizzler at Nagpur
Dilip Vengsarkar shot to fame with a scintillating hundred for Bombay in the 1975-76 Irani Cup at Nagpur against the likes of Bishan Singh Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna. A journalist nicknamed him 'Colonel' after Colonel CK Nayudu who was born in the Orange City. The Irani Cup game was Vengsarkar's second first-class game with the first being disastrous for the then 19-year-old batsman. He didn't get to bat in the first innings against Gujarat and when he got his chance in the second, he was trapped leg before wicket by Dhiraj Parsanna for a duck. However, in the very next month, after his successful Irani Cup outing, Vengsarkar was representing India in an unofficial Test against Sri Lanka.

Dilip Vengsarkar
Dilip Vengsarkar

Colonel no, DBV yes
Coming back to the 'Colonel' nickname, Vengsarkar played for a club – Dadar Union – whose players earned army-related nicknames. Bowling spearhead Vithal Patil was called 'Marshal', batsman Suresh Tigdi was known as 'Major' Then came 'Colonel.' Oh by the way, Vengsarkar doesn't like being Colonel. If you want to call him by a nickname, DBV will do.

Dilip Vengsarkar celebrates his 20th birthday in 1976 as Sunil Gavaskar claps for the birthday boy
Dilip Vengsarkar celebrates his 20th birthday in 1976 as Sunil Gavaskar claps for the birthday boy

Quick in the stands too
Dilip Vengsarkar not only tackled bowlers with aplomb, he could handle rowdy spectators too. During the 1994-95 Ranji Trophy final between Mumbai and Punjab at the Wankhede Stadium, a few spectators heckled Vengsarkar as he was watching the game from the press box. When it got too loud to ignore, Vengsarkar moved from his seat, jumped over to the stand to his left, chased the offenders and caught them at the exit point, and landed a tight slap on one of them. He displayed incredible alacrity for a retired cricketer to chase down his oppressors.

Dilip Vengsarkar on his way to a ton  against England in the Lord's Test of the 1982 series. Pic/Getty Images
Dilip Vengsarkar on his way to a ton against England in the Lord's Test of the 1982 series. Pic/Getty Images

Those sleepless nights
In 1991, Vengsarkar figured in his last Ranji Trophy final – for Sanjay Manjrekar's Mumbai vs Kapil Dev's Haryana. Chasing 355 for victory, Mumbai ended up losing by two runs with Vengsarkar unbeaten on 139. The photographers didn't miss out on capturing Vengsarkar shedding tears. Many years later, Vengsarkar revealed to this newspaper that the domestic loss even caused sleepless nights for a couple of weeks.

Dilip Vengsarkar, skipper Sanjay Manjrekar, Chandrakant Pandit, Abey Kuruvilla and Sachin Tendulkar swallow the bitter pill of defeat after Kapil Dev's Haryana beat Mumbai in the 1990-91 Ranji Trophy final at Wankhede Stadium on May 7, 1991. Pic/Mid day archives
Dilip Vengsarkar, skipper Sanjay Manjrekar, Chandrakant Pandit, Abey Kuruvilla and Sachin Tendulkar swallow the bitter pill of defeat after Kapil Dev's Haryana beat Mumbai in the 1990-91 Ranji Trophy final at Wankhede Stadium on May 7, 1991. Pic/Mid day archives

Take this job & shove it
Not many players choose to put their reputation on the line and stand for elections in their administrative pursuits. Vengsarkar is one of them. When he first contested for the Mumbai Cricket Association vice-president's post in the mid-1990s, he lost. Utterly disappointed at the poll results, Vengsarkar immediately quit as Mumbai chairman and drove away to a quiet destination to lick his wounds. Like a true cricketer, he made a comeback and lost only once after that – in 2011 - to the late Vilasrao Deshmukh.

A sign board to the Dilip Vengsarkar suite at Lord's
A sign board to the Dilip Vengsarkar suite at Lord's

Lord of Lord's
No batsman is linked to Lord's as much as Vengsarkar. He scored Test hundreds there in 1979, 1982 and 1986, the last one eventuating in India's first ever Test win at the spiritual home of cricket. Vengsarkar won't underestimate the first one in 1979 because he was out for a duck in the first innings – caught Mike Hendrick bowled Ian Botham and was determined not to get a pair in the game. "What if somebody asks me how many runs I scored at Lord's and I have zero as an answer," he feared. Apart from scoring a century in the second innings, he put on 201 runs with fellow centurion Gundappa Vishwanath and India ended up drawing a rain-marred Test which they
could have lost since they were bowled out for 96 in the first innings. Interestingly, there is another ground which is close to Vengsarkar's heart – the Kotla in New Delhi where he scored four Test centuries, three of them against the formidable West Indies.

Inside the Dlip Vengsarkar Suite at the Tavern Stand of the Lord's Cricket Ground in London. Pics/Marylebone Cricket Club
Inside the Dlip Vengsarkar Suite at the Tavern Stand of the Lord's Cricket Ground in London. Pics/Marylebone Cricket Club

Lataji's treat
ON one of his four Test tours to England, the late Raj Singh Dungarpur, who managed the 1982 and 1986 Indian teams in Old Blighty, accompanied Vengsarkar to Lata Mangeshkar's house in London. According to Vengsarkar, the melody queen cooked Kolhapuri mutton and gajar halwa which he relished. Was that the reason why Vengsarkar fared famously at Lord's? Probably.

That man 'Macko'
Malcolm Marshall, the late West Indies fast bowling great, was not someone who sent birthday greetings to Vengsarkar. Marshall believed that he was given out unfairly on his Test debut in 1978-79 because of Vengsarkar's constant appealing. By the time he became a regular in the West Indies team, Marshall was out for revenge and he got it when India toured the West Indies in 1983. In Antigua, Marshall hit Vengsarkar on the helmet, a blow which the paceman felt rattled him. On 94, Vengsarkar hooked Marshall but top edged it to Winston Davis on the long leg boundary. Marshall got his man in the second innings as well — for a duck. He wrote all about it in the 'Vengsarkar Vengeance' chapter of his 1987 book, Marshall Arts, but he didn't shy away from crediting Vengsarkar too. "Dilip Vengsarkar," he wrote, "is one of the finest batsmen in contemporary cricket and proof of his quality came in 1986 when he became the first overseas player to score three Test centuries at Lord's: not even Bradman could match that."

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