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I dreamt of Imran all night long

The flamboyant Sandeep Patil was a vital part of India's World Cup winning squad in 1983, writes Sandeep Patil.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2004 00:58 IST

Sandeep Patil:1979-80 series

The flamboyant Sandeep Patil was a vital part of India's World Cup winning squad in 1983. He toured Pakistan twice, in 1982-83 and 1984-85 and played some entertaining innings in Tests and one-day internationals against the traditional rivals. Here, he recalls the fifth Test of 1979-80 at Chennai which India won to take the series 2-0. He made his Test debut in this match.

I was eagerly looking forward to Pakistan's visit in 1979-80 as I hoped to play against Zaheer Abbas, Asif Iqbal, Sadiq Mohammed, Majid Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Bari, Wasim Raja and of course, Imran Khan.

I was included in the team for the first four Tests but was not picked in the XI. The Ranji tie between Mumbai and Saurashtra was scheduled before the fifth Test and I remember skipper Sunil Gavaskar telling me; "If you want to play for India, these 30s and 40s won't do. Get a big hundred!" I batted with greater responsibility and scored 214.

I was raring to go when we arrived in Chennai for the fifth Test, but was still unsure about my place. I dreamt about facing Imran the whole night.

Then came D-Day. The atmosphere was electric. I was taking a knock when Vishy walked up and said, "Good luck Sandy, You are playing." I wish someone had a camera to record my reaction. What a feeling it was! Making my debut in such a momentous series!

With just one more Test left in the series, the match was crucial. We were leading 1-0 and Pakistan had to win both Tests to win the series.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat. Kapil bowled his outswingers to perfection and took four wickets and our opponents were dismissed for 272.

My turn to bat came at 135 for three. My feet were trembling and there were butterflies in my stomach. The first ball I faced in Test cricket was bowled by Imran. I saw it well and cover-drove it for four. It was an exhilarating feeling, but it didn't last long as I fell to a superb catch by Javed Miandad at point.

I had scored only 15, but was told later that I had made an impression.

We took a huge lead in the first innings with Sunny scoring a masterly 166, and the Pakistanis were up against it. They struggled in the second innings against Kapil's incisive bowling and were dismissed for 233. Kapil in fact took seven wickets in the match and 11 in the innings. I took my first Test catch in the second innings when Majid mishooked a Karsan bouncer. We ended up winning the Test by ten wickets and with it, the series. I remember being so delighted that I joined the crowd and started jumping with them. I just wanted to express my feelings! In the dressing room, I drank champagne for the first time. The next Test was another unforgettable game for me, as I scored my first 50 in front of a hundred thousand spectators at Kolkata.

The relationship between both sides was, and remains excellent. We played in the right spirit and later partied in the right spirit! After that debut series, I toured Pakistan twice and enjoyed the same rapport with the Pakistani cricketers.

First Published: Mar 14, 2004 00:58 IST