With his prolific run-making in the middle order, K. P. Bhaskar was a giant for Delhi’s domestic cricket team during the 1980s and early 1990s. His domestic record as a batter — 5443 runs in 95 first-class matches at an average of 52.84 — was impressive indeed, but didn’t result in an India cap.
His innings of 221 for Delhi against Bombay in 1991-92 remains one of his most memorable innings. Reminiscing that innings in Pen, Paper and Podcast with Vijay Lokapally – Stories from Indian cricket, he said, “I remember the 221 that I got against Bombay in the semifinals. All I remember is that I was dejected when I got out for 221. I think it was just before lunch on the second day. And as I was walking back dejectedly, all I could hear was my name being called. Turned back, and I saw Dileep bhai— Dilip Vengsarkar — all the way from slips. He walked up to me and shook my hands. Said, ‘Very well played. That was a treat to watch.’”
The match — the second semifinal of Ranji Trophy 1991-92 — was drawn but Delhi progressed to the final on the basis of a first-innings lead. It went on to clinch the title, defeating Tamil Nadu in the final.
First List A ton
The other innings he rated highly was the one against Wills’ XI in the final of the 1989-90 Wills Trophy, a List A tournament. Coming in to bat at the fall of the third wicket, with the score at 47, Bhaskar went on to score a century and steered his team to a commanding total of 261. It was his first century in List A cricket. Wills XI, led by Mohammad Azharuddin, reached its target with 2.3 overs to spare, Ajay Jadeja and Navjot Sidhu scoring half-centuries.
“The other innings that comes to my mind in Bombay again was Wills Trophy — the final. Delhi, after reaching the final, we were playing [Wills’ XI] led by Azharuddin. They were virtually an Indian bowling attack. We had a capacity crowd again. We were [47 for 3] when I walked in, and from there, I got a brilliant hundred. On my way back — there was a crowd of about 30 or 35,000 — I could see just one face standing up and clapping for me. That is one memory I will never forget. It’s still etched in my mind. When I look back and think about the good times that I had on the cricket field, that one image comes to my mind — Sunil Gavaskar standing and clapping for me,” Bhaskar said.
Bhaskar, however, couldn’t make it to the Indian team for its trip to Sharjah for the ensuing Australasia Cup.
“I missed out on that Sharjah trip because I was made a standby. The man of the match award [for the Wills Trophy final] went to somebody else; I knew that I had probably missed the bus. Otherwise that hundred should have got me the man of the match award though we were on the losing side. But somebody got a 70 and the man of the match award (sic), and he eventually made it to the Sharjah trip,” Bhaskar said, without naming the player. Navjot Sidhu, who scored 83, played for India in the six-team tourney.
You can listen to the entire episode on Spotify here.