Dilip Vengsarkar Biography
When Dilip Vengsarkar bid farewell to Tests, his run tally was next only to Sunil Gavaskar among Indian batsmen. In fact, the 6,868 runs he accumulated was bettered then by only 15 batsmen in Test history. Vengsarkar was also ranked the No 1 batsman in the world for three successive years, and is the only non-English batsman to score three Test hundreds at Lord’s. Yet, he is rarely ranked alongside batting legends in cricketing discussions.
For all his promise, Vengsarkar was a late bloomer at international level. It was on the 1977-78 tour of Australia that his career took off as he went on to form the backbone of the Indian batting with Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath. He scored the first of his 17 Test hundreds (157 not out) in his 17th Test against West Indies in 1978-79, adding a record second-wicket stand of 344 with Gavaskar.
In a span of 19 Tests between December 1985 and November 1987, Vengsarkar had scored 1,819 runs at an average 95.73. It was in this phase that he scored 126 not out at Lord’s — his third century in three appearances at this venue. He then carved out a memorable 61 and 102 not out on a Headingley nightmare where the next highest scorer from either side was 36. Then followed scores of 164 not out against Australia, 153 and 166 (another classic on a beast of a track) against Sri Lanka, 96 and 109 against a Pakistan potent attack, and 102 and 102 retired hurt against the West Indies pace quartet.
But Vengsarkar has remained a conundrum. Though he got hundreds against four of the five countries he played against, not one of his overseas Test centuries came outside England. Also, inexplicable is the fact that for a one-drop batsman, who showed such fine aggression against quality bowling so early in his career, he had just one hundred from 129 ODIs.
Like many greats, Vengsarkar went out after a poor runs: his last 26 innings yielding just 537 runs.
Vengsarkar brought out the beast in Malcolm Marshall. The West Indian wrote in his autobiography that he did not mind if he “decapitated” Vengsarkar. Marshall was at his fiery best against Vengsarkar, dismissing him 10 times from 27 innings, but the Indian also scored three hundreds and six fifties against Marshall.