As glorious an Indian cricketer’s career may be, there is no guarantee that it ends on a high. Glance through some of the biggest names in Indian cricket and that pattern is very much visible. The great Kapil Dev struggled big time in his last couple of years before finally pulling the plug on a legendary career after picking up the much-anticipated 434th Test wicket. Rahul Dravid, after the high of the 2011 Test series in England, went out with a whimper of a series against Australia a few months later. Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan suffered the same fate. Heck, Harbhajan Singh announced his retirement six years after playing his last international match for India. Only Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni are the three names that come to mind who went out in style. Even the great Sachin Tendulkar wasn’t the same batsman after winning the 2011 World Cup.
Joining the list of legendary Indian cricketers to have not had a happy ending to their careers is former captain and great Dilip Vengsarkar. Once the pillar of India’s middle-order batting, Vengsarkar was a frequent run-scorer for India. In 1986, he was the hero of India’s epic Test series win in England and looked set to continue for a few more years. But an unfortunate injury shattered Vengsarkar’s plan of going on. In 1988, Vengsarkar fractured his hand while batting during a Test match against West Indies at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, and although he recovered from it, Vengsarkar’s career did not remain the same. India’s tour of Australia in 1992 was Vengsarkar’s swansong, during which plenty of things transpired.
“If you see in the hindsight, of course I was doing well in the sense. But on the tour of Australia, I was dropped from the one-day matches. That was I was the highest scorer for India and I couldn’t find a place. I could understand if India were winning but they were losing each and every match on the tour of Australia. Coach Abbas Ali Baig was there and he asked me what we should do. I said you are asking an interested person,” Vengsarkar told former India batsman WV Raman on the latter’s YouTube channel.
Vengsarkar flopped with the bat in his final Test series against Australia, scoring just 158 runs from five matches, after which he ended his 116-game long Test career with 6868 runs. Between March 1990 and November 1991, Vengsarkar played only five ODIs, during which he scored a half-century. A former BCCI chief selector, Vengsarkar stated that he felt he was unlucky to have been sidelined, more so since India’s performances in ODIs back then were not up to the mark.
“I mean I can understand if you are winning all the matches and then you keep me on the sidelines. I was the highest scorer in ODIs till then. So then I thought that it’s not worth continuing because I have always believed that you should play in all formats. India were playing a lot of ODIs back then and if you are playing them all, you are part of the group,” he pointed out.
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