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By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Jul 25, 2014
“Wait till I get there. I want to be there when the book launches,” said Tendulkar as he was stuck at Hyderabad airport due to a delay. At 6 PM, he was supposed to be present at the CCI in Mumbai, but was held up for hours. Of course, he did not want to miss out on the launch of a book on Dungarpur, the former CCI President, who wore numerous hats in Indian cricket. From being a selector, to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President, or even manager, Dungarpur lived and breathed cricket.
It was an evening which was attended by the Dungarpur family and the cricketing elites. They all recalled numerous instances from Dungarpur’s life, reflecting his passion for the sport. He had played a huge role in the development of Tendulkar as a cricketer and many recalled his association with the master batsman.
When Tendulkar was a schoolboy, Dungarpur was instrumental in Tendulkar being made a playing member of the CCI. Even though the rules barred anyone under 18 to enter the dressing room, they changed it only to accommodate the special talent. Kailash Gattani, the former Ranji cricketer, remembers how Dungarpur ensured Tendulkar would be picked for the Star Cricket Club tour to England.
Garrani was initially hesitant to take a 14-year-old, but Dungarpur once summoned him to watch a school game. Tendulkar was batting and smashed a straight drive, which then convinced Gattani to take him to England. Shishir Hattangadi remembers how Dungarpur loved cricket and especially, celebrated Tendulkar’s good performances.
Tendulkar ultimately arrived two hours late and apologised to the crowd. He did try to change his flights, but wasn’t successful. He said, “Raj bhai has been instrumental in my growth as a cricketer. He ensured I got the opportunities. I remember when I was a child, I had come here and he had arranged sponsorship for me for the England tour. He told me, “Tumi cricket khela, baaki majha war soda” (Marathi for: You play cricket, leave the rest to me).
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