- Extremely huge popularity enjoyed by cricket as a sport in the Indian context is firmly established. The game’s perpetual acceptance amongst the citizens can be gauged by the amounts of fans getting added. No wonder, the sponsorship contracts worth billions of dollars coming into the sport largely owes it to humongous backing by the cricket-crazy fans of India positioning the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on an enviable pedestal. That the BCCI owing to its overflowing coffers controls the purse strings of world cricket is stating the obvious. Any bilateral contest involving Team India is bound to elicit a huge following and in turn, substantial moolah through lucrative sponsorships. Hence, the BCCI sits pretty pulling strings wherever required.
- The crazy following for the game has grown so exponentially over the years that it is always mentioned with pride that cricket is no less than a religion in the country. None will dispute this fact and millions will joyfully endorse this cacophony. Keen observers following the game’s growth would not mind delving deep into how cricket started gaining such tremendous traction and following over the years. It would be interesting to note that it all started soon after the unheralded and quintessentially named underdogs of Kapil Dev-led team clinching the Prudential World Cup played in England in 1983. Those were the days when five-day Test cricket with a rest day thrown in between used to be the norm with hardly any shorter format worth mentioning taking precedence over the former.
- The team led by Kapil Dev back then was not only short of confidence in competing in the then 60 overs a side one-day international cricket dominated so brutally by the West Indies, Australia, and England but also lacked impact players suited for the smaller version. You would be wondering how and where Yashpal Sharma fits into the narration here. Mind you, Team India winning the league match against the much-fancied West Indies in the 1983 World Cup campaign was spearheaded by none other than Yashpal Sharma’s stirring knock of 89. This win against the domineering West Indies team of the 1980s provided a great impetus and badly needed belief to the team right at the beginning of the tournament to go the whole distance.
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- Note that Yashpal Sharma was also instrumental in playing a match-winning knock of 61 against England in the semi-finals propelling Team India into finals. And the rest, as they say, is history. India went onto beat the West Indies in the finals permanently etching each of the player’s names in the annals of Indian Cricket forever. Notably, Yashpal was also the second-highest run-scorer after Kapil Dev for India in the tournament. Apart from his exploits with the bat, he was an electrifying fielder as well. Though his modest statistics do not qualify amongst the greatest cricketers of Indian cricket, Yashpal would always remain a part of cricketing lore for essaying an influential role in spreading the popularity of the game wide and across. RIP, Sharmaji!