Cricket occupied a special place in Rishi Kapoor's heart!

Updated: May 01, 2020, 07:25 IST | Clayton Murzello | Mumbai

Sandhu was present on the sets of the 2011 film, Patiala House for which he had trained star actor Akshay Kumar, who played the role of a cricketer called Parghat Singh Kahlon

Rishi Kapoor (left) with former India cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi at the CCI, Churchgate during a friendly match. Pic/ mid-day archive
Rishi Kapoor (left) with former India cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi at the CCI, Churchgate during a friendly match. Pic/ mid-day archive

Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor, 67, who succumbed to cancer on Thursday, was an avid cricket fan with a feel for the history of the game.

Balvinder Singh Sandhu, the man who claimed the first West Indies wicket (Gordon Greenidge) in the fabled 1983 World Cup final at Lord's, remembered how Kapoor was happy to hear about past matches while a lot of his conversations with the departed film stalwart centered around India's 1983 triumph.

Sandhu was present on the sets of the 2011 film, Patiala House for which he had trained star actor Akshay Kumar, who played the role of a cricketer called Parghat Singh Kahlon.

Sandhu's special evening

"I was tucking into an early dinner one evening at Nottingham and Rishi comes to me and says that no one has dinner so early. He urged me to accompany him to a Trent Bridge bar and that's where we were for a few hours, sipping whiskey and talking cricket. I told him I was a big fan of his father, Raj Kapoor and we enjoyed a lovely, memorable evening," Sandhu told mid-day on Thursday.

The former swing bowler was amazed how Kapoor got immersed in his character, Gurtej Singh Kahlon (aka Bauji), who initially did not approve of his son Parghat (aka Gattu) playing cricket for England. "It was tremendous to see him display his skills before the camera. I told him that his performance was going to fetch him an award. He did it so well," remarked Sandhu.

Balvinder Singh Sandhu
Balvinder Singh Sandhu

Meanwhile, across the border, Pakistan's former wicketkeeper Wasim Bari said he cherished Kapoor's friendship ever since they met on his first Test tour to India in 1979-80. Kapoor met Pakistan cricket journalist Qamar Ahmed at a party during the series and expressed a desire to speak to Bari. Qamar arranged that and Rishi became good friends with Bari, then arguably, the No. 1 wicketkeeper in world cricket.

"I am very sad to hear the news of Rishi's death. I tried reaching out to him while he was undergoing his cancer treatment but couldn't. I remember being invited for a meal at his home and him even giving me a gift for my wife. My condolences to the Kapoor family, including Neetu," Bari, 72 told mid-day.

Those Sharjah trips

Meanwhile, Bari's former teammate and captain Zaheer Abbas recalled a great bond with Kapoor which got stronger during the departed actor's visits to Sharjah and Zaheer's trips to India.

Wasim Bari
Wasim Bari

"Rishi would always offer me a cigar and would cut and shape it for me," Zaheer told Qamar during a lunch meeting on Thursday.

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