The only Goan player till date to represent India, Dilip Sardesai is known for his brute power with the bat and played fearless cricket whenever he went out on the pitch. Sardesai was highly regarded for tackling spinners, which at the time, was a challenge for batsmen to negate. In a career spanned from 1961 to 1972, Sardesai represented India in 30 Test matches, in which the swashbuckler has scored 2,001 runs, including five centuries and two double-centuries and nine half-centuries. Popularly known for his 200 against New Zealand in 1965 and helping India win a Test series against England in 1971, Sardesai had an eventful career, be it international cricket or first-class.
Remembering Dilip Sardesai on his birth-anniversary, here are a few lesser-known facts about India’s ‘Renaissance Man’.
Facing Pakistan on FC Debut: Sardesai put on impressive performances at University level and after standing out in the Rohinton Baria Trophy (1959-60), the batsman was called up for the India Universities squad to face a visiting Pakistan side in November, 1960. The swashbuckler went on to score a splendid 87 runs against a pacey Pakistan side. Later on, Sardesai was also called up for the Board President’s XI to face Pakistan, where he went on to score his maiden First-Class century.
Facing Windies’ Attack: To face the likes of Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith was no child’s play. The West Indies attacking unit had batsmen shivering with their fiery pace and a young Sardesai was selected in the squad to tour the Caribbean. The fear of being struck became reality when captain Nari Contractor was struck on the head by a Griffith bouncer. Taking his place as opener, Sardesai played some fearless cricket and also scored handy runs for India.
Saving India: The Indian team were bundled out for just 88 by the John Reid led New Zealand side in 1965. The Kiwis posted 297 in the first innings of the match and bowled out India for 88 in the first innings. Reid enforced the follow on, but Sardesai ensured that India did not have to face any humiliation as the swashbuckler batted it out for over nine hours and went on to score his maiden double century. Helping India out in the tough time, his double ton nearly won India the match as England were reeling for 80/8 on the last day, however, the Kiwis tailsmen hung on which saw the match being ended in a draw.
The Renaissance Man: Sardesai was dropped from the Indian side in the 1967-68 tours due to poor form. However, after regaining form through First Class cricket, then captain Ajit Wadekar brought back Sardesai for the West Indies tour in 1971. The nickname ‘Renaissance Man’ was given to Sardesai after his brilliance performance in the series, scoring 642 runs which includes three centuries and a double ton.