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Don Bradman meets Dhyan Chand

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At Adelaide on May 2, 1935, Don Bradman (left) met Dhyan Chand for the only time in their lives. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images & Wikimedia Commons

At Adelaide on May 2, 1935, Don Bradman met Dhyan Chand for the only time in their lives. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the first magic moment in Indo-Australian sport relationship.

Dhyan Chand was the first Indian sportsman to capture the imagination of the world. Play had been stopped to check whether he had applied glue to his hockey-stick (in Tokyo) or there was a magnet inside (in Netherlands); he had gone without a goal in a match and complained that the goalpost was smaller than the regulatory measurement, and to everybody’s astonishment, proved to be right; and the awestruck Austrians had erected a statue of him at Vienna to depict his wizardry: the statue is endowed with four arms and four sticks.

[Note: The oft-repeated tale of Hitler offering Dhyan Chand the post of a Colonel and a German passport remains unverified.]

One can go on for pages on the legend, but this, unfortunately, is a cricket website, so let us revert to the incident in question.

India had toured Australia and New Zealand before the 1936 Olympics at Berlin. There was a match scheduled at Adelaide, and Pankaj Gupta, the manager of the side, had asked Lord Mayor whether Don Bradman could be at the ground during the match.

The Don had never witnessed a hockey match before, and was taken aback by the Hockey Houdini’s on-field surreal sorcery. He went up to Chand and complimented him with the famous words: “You score goals like runs in cricket.”  The Wizard from Allahabad, too, had fond memories of the rendezvous. To quote Bharatiya Hockey, “Years later, Chand would rate his appointment as the 1936 Berlin Olympics captain and his meeting with Don Bradman as the two most exciting moments of his life.”

It is the mediocre that lives a life of false vanity and stoop to throwing stones at others. Legends do not. That, perhaps, is what make them legends.

 (Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

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