Mumbai Test: Shardul Thakur's kind favour for childhood coach at Wankhede

Updated: Dec 14, 2016, 09:25 IST | Subodh Mayure

Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur ensures his childhood coach and former city leg-spinner Vishu Lele gets a good seat at Wankhede stadium to watch ongoing India vs England Test

Former Mumbai leg-spinner and Shardul Thakur's coach Vishu Lele watches the fourth Test match between India and England from the President's Box at the Wankhede yesterday. Pic/Subodh Mayure
Former Mumbai leg-spinner and Shardul Thakur's coach Vishu Lele watches the fourth Test match between India and England from the President's Box at the Wankhede yesterday. Pic/Subodh Mayure

Cricket coaches always ensure their students are treated to live matches at stadiums and in doing so, arrange for free passes. However, it was a different situation at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday during the ongoing fourth Test between India and England. Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur went out of his way to make sure that his childhood coach Vishu (Vishwanath) Lele enjoyed the proceedings from the stands.

Ratnakar Shetty also helps
Thakur, who joined the Indian team on Saturday night, after finishing his Ranji Trophy commitments with Mumbai, also sought help from the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) General Manager (Games Development) Professor Ratnakar Shetty, who ensured Lele got a good seat at the Wankhede.

Lele not only witnessed the Test match, but also got to see the renovated Wankhede Stadium. It can be recalled that the 85-year-old former Mumbai, Shivaji Park Gymkhana and Dadar Union all-rounder wanted to see Indian icon Sachin Tendulkar's last Test against the West Indies in 2013, but was denied a pass by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).

Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur

He has fond memories of the old Wankhede when he scored 98 in a Kanga League match at the age of 57. "I want to forget my experience here in 2013 when I came to see the renovated Wankhede and Sachin's last match from Pune. No one from MCA gave me a pass and I had to return without seeing that match," Lele told mid-day yesterday.

"I used to coach Shardul in Tarapur earlier. I don't know how he came to know about the incident. I spoke to Professor Ratnakar Shetty and this time the experience was different," Lele added. The former Mumbai leg-spinner was seen seated at the Wankhede's Grand Stand on Saturday and at the President's Box yesterday. "I came yesterday and watched the match from the stands which are at a great height. Today was a totally different experience. I was not expecting this reception. My old friend Prakash Kelkar helped me get down to the President's Box," said Lele, who played his first-class cricket for Mumbai from 1953 to 1969.

'IPL affecting leg-spinners'
Lele, who claimed 92 wickets in 33 first-class matches, felt the Indian Premier League (IPL) is affecting the quality of Indian leg-spinners. "Now we are unable to see genuine leg-spinners. The game is changing a lot because of the IPL. They (IPL teams) don't want spinners. They want bowlers who can only restrict the flow of runs. You need to bowl only four overs. But leg-spinners have to buy wickets and he needs to give a flight," he added.

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