New Delhi: "He was one of the most prolific players in Indian cricket," says former captain Bishan Singh Bedi, bidding farewell to Indian cricket's 'renaissance man', Dilip Sardesai, who passed away on Monday night in Mumbai.
Taking over the legacy left by the likes of Pankaj Roy and the three Vijays - Hazare, Merchant and Manjrekar - Dilip Sardesai made his Test debut in the 1961-62 season, even though he didn't have the best season in Ranji Trophy cricket.
But once playing top-flight international cricket, there was no looking back.
"His double century in the first Test in Barbados laid the foundation for India to go for the kill against West Indies in 1971," adds Bedi, recollecting perhaps India's greatest overseas Test series win, coming in his penultimate Test series 10 years later.
"He had batted for most of his innings with Eknath Solkar and Erapalli Prasanna, who were tail enders. The top order was back in the pavilion long ago, but he had great partnerships with them to boost our score," recalls Bedi.
Sardesai retired after another famous series win, this time in England, but by that time India had another great stepping into his shoes, Sunil Gavaskar.
Even he, for that matter, had added 2,001 runs from 55 innings with two double centuries and three more scores in three figures.
Bedi made his outburst public against another great opening batsman only recently. But Sardesai, according to him, was "one of the most hospitable cricketers from Mumbai."
BCCI President Sharad Pawar and Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, too, have condoled Sardesai's death.
Gundappa Viswanath, opened with with Sardesai for a brief period, says: "It is a very sad day for Indian cricket."
"He played the West Indies fast bowlers with ease, but wasn't satisfied with batting at No. 4. He was an opener, and had the experience of facing the likes of Charlie Griffith," Viswanath adds.
The tour of West Indies preceding the famous 1971 victory, Sardesai was at the other end when Griffith smashed Nari Contractor in the head with a nasty delivery.
But as Krishnamachari Srikkanth points out, "Sardesai was technically very correct," perhaps summing up Sardesai's keenness to face the fearful, four-pronged West Indian pace bowling attack.
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