My Love-Hate Relationship With Col Vengsarkar: Sandeep Patil

Dilip Balwant Rao Vengsarkar, my childhood buddy, is popularly known as Colonel Vengsarkar. A lot of people do not know how he got this name. It was Mumbai versus Rest of India at Nagpur in 1974 when he faced the Great Indian trio of (Bhishan Singh) Bedi, (EAS) Prasanna and (BS) Chandrasekhar and blasted a score of 100 with seven towering sixes.

Apart from Salim Durrani of that era, nobody had dared to hit sixes against this trio. Late Lala Amarnath was the commentator, who has also played with India’s first test captain Colonel CK Nayudu who was famous for hitting sixes.

After watching Dilip hit those sixes, it was Lalaji who thought Dilip’s batting style was like Colonel CK Nayudu’s. The funny thing is that the sixes stopped after that match and he adopted Vijay Hazare’s style and not of Colonel CK Nayudu.

Dilip and I started our cricketing career from school days. He was captain of King George High school and I was captain of Bal Mohan Vidya Mandir. Both our friendship and rivalry started there.

Later, we played Bombay School, Maharashtra School, Bombay University, Mumbai Ranji team and Indian team.

Not many people know that when he started his career, he was a wicketkeeper-batsman. From school days, he was very disciplined, focused and had elegance in his batting style.

I am fortunate and happy to say that from school days to our test cricket days, I had many century partnerships with him and also watched him score most of his 100s as a teammate.

We also made our first foreign tour together, thanks to Late Ajit Wadekar, who had arranged a trip to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1974. The funny thing is that just before our departure, Ajit Wadekar came to know that we both had no passports.

Ajit was a hero then. I don’t know what influence he used to get our passports in exactly one hour’s time just so we could join other team members.

We always shared a love-hate relationship and even now we continue to do so. He had played some extraordinary innings and I really envy him for his guts to face a battery of fast bowlers continuing to bat even after getting hit.

Only two sad things among the things in his fantastic cricketing career, if I may say, were:

First, when he was deported from Sharjah Airport in 1982 and second, when he missed out on the final XI of ’83 World cup finals. A man who has played more than 100 tests, did not stop after his retirement from Test and First class cricket. He was Chairman of Selection Committee of BCCI. He was Chairman CEO (Mumbai Cricket Association).

He runs his ELF cricket academies all over Maharashtra trying to find and encourage young talent. He also became the vice president of Mumbai Cricket Association and was deservingly awarded the Padma Shri. We both started our cricketing journies 48 years ago, today, we both are senior citizens.

We both are busy with our own lives, but whenever the opportunity comes, we do meet. Like recently, we met on the ‘Kapil Sharma show’ and tried to remember great memories that we shared together.

I wish him a very happy birthday and a very happy life.

(Sandeep Patil is a former Indian cricketer, Indian national age group cricket manager and former Kenya national team coach.)

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