Chetan Chauhan

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A summary of his career

Arani Basu, August 17, 2020: The Times of India

Chauhan’s legacy as a cricketer has often been overshadowed by the fact that he was Sunil Gavaskar’s longest opening partner. His Test record — no centuries despite scoring 2084 runs in 40 Tests — has been a quizmaster’s delight for years. The image of Gavaskar dragging him off the pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in protest against the umpire’s decision in 1981 stayed with him. He would avoid talking about the incident even till recently.

Chauhan and Gavaskar forged India’s most successful opening partnership from 1973 to 1981. The next big one — Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir — came in the second half of the first decade of the 21st century.

Stories of his grit and gutsy batting are still talked in the cricketing circles. He was at the centre of Delhi cricket’s evolution that challenged the might of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) in the domestic cricket scene. He was leading the charge when Delhi clinched their first of the three Ranji Trophy titles to end Mumbai’s monopoly.

Chauhan’s stature grew after he hung his boots in 1985. He took to politics and became a member of parliament in 1991 and 1998, and also became a strongman in Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). A gentleman to the core, he remained a no-nonsense man even as DDCA got mired in corruption and controversy over the years. He served as the vicepresident of DDCA and chief selector besides donning many other hats as an administrator in Indian cricket.

He was there in the middle of the Monkeygate storm as the manager of the Indian team in Australia in 2008.

There was barely an occasion when Chauhan was missing at the Ferozeshah Kotla during his last years as an administrator. He quit after the 70-year age cap came into effect in cricket administration. He was always there by the pitch side to ensure Kotla didn’t see a repeat of the ban in 2010, or in the corridors of DDCA trying to tackle the disrupting fellow officebearers. He got caught in the muck of DDCA politics and tied hard to clean the dirt.

Even at 65, he would come in his training shorts early in the morning on Ranji Trophy match days, complete 10 sets of sit-ups and have a healthy discussion about selection and cricket in general before slipping into his formals and start talking business as an administrator.

Bedi’s tribute

Bishan Singh Bedi, (As told to Partha Bhaduri), RIP Chetan, you were grit personified, August 17, 2020: The Times of India

He enjoyed such a gritty innings in cricket. He was not the prettiest opening batsman, far from it, but he found a way to cover up his numerous limitations quite adequately. He was determination personified, and that makes him one among the enduring characters of Indian cricket. It might not seem like much to say he played second fiddle as India opener, but how many can claim to have played second fiddle to the great Sunil Gavaskar?

There are numerous reasons why their partnership (11 century stands overall, 10 as opening pair) served India so well. Chauhan was never put there to take the spotlight away from Sunil, and he knew that. Somehow, he found a way to stay at the wicket and get behind the line of the new ball, even against the fiercest of pacers. Even when the Aussies would sometimes mock his abilities with a fly slip, Chetan would not flinch.

In the mid-1970s, he had been playing for Maharashtra and had been in and out of the India side when I convinced him to come to Delhi. Our fortunes, and that of North Zone, of which also I was captain, immediately took an upturn, culminating in our first Ranji Trophy title in the 1978-79 season, coinciding with some of Chetan’s best years at the international level (in four years Delhi won the Ranji Trophy three times, also winning in 79-80, 81-82, and being runners-up in 1976-77 and 1980-81). I just wish he had got a Test ton too (Chauhan’s highest was 97). He more than deserved it.

We had been looking for men with spine, and he fit the bill perfectly. We were a merry band, similar characters like Jimmy (Mohinder Amarnath), Madan Lal, Surender Amarnath, Vinay Lamba, Rakesh Shukla, Surender Khanna and Kirti Azad. We were on a roll. Of course, it was also the start of the Delhi and District Cricket Association’s long history of run-ins between players and administrators, and I remember Chetan, me and the others even signed a memorandum and gave it to the DDCA authorities, complaining about the cricketing infrastructure. To this day, things haven’t improved.

In later years, of course, he became a selector and then an administrator, and we had our differences. He had political ambitions, and we didn’t always see eye to eye when it came to matters of Delhi cricket administration. We were teammates first, though, and he never forgot that. He beat the odds all the time, just not this time. RIP Chetan. You fought well.


Subhash Mishra, August 17, 2020: The Times of India

He may not have scored a century in his 40 Tests, but there was no dearth of tons for Chetan Chauhan in his political innings which started a few years after he played his last Ranji Trophy match in 1985. Chauhan, 73, who passed away in Gurgaon due to multiorgan failure after testing positive for coronavirus, was a twotime MP from Amroha and now a cabinet minister in the UP government.

Born in Bareilly, Chauhan made neighbouring Amroha his political karma-bhoomi and remained a loyal BJP worker throughout his political career spanning over three decades. He won the Amroha Lok Sabha seat for the first time 1991.

He lost the seat in 1996, but won again in 1998. After a couple of losses from the same constituency, he concentrated on ‘cricket politics’ in Delhi and came back to contest from Naugawan Sadat seat of Amroha in 2017 UP polls.

After his victory in assembly elections, he was made cabinet minister in the Yogi government and was given the charge of sports and youth welfare. In several interactions with TOI, Chauhan showed his determination to consolidate sports infrastructure in the state to lift it to the international standards.

As sports minister, he toured the state extensively and had an elaborate plan to develop the infrastructure on public private partnership (PPP) model.

The person

Saved Sikh cricketers from mob in 1984

Pratyush Raj, Chauhan saved Sikh cricketers from mob in 1984, August 18, 2020: The Times of India

Former India opener Chetan Chauhan’s grit and courage on the pitch is legendary. But not many know that the cricketer, who died owing to Covid-19 complications on Sunday, saved the lives of several Sikh international cricketers, including Navjot Singh Sidhu and Rajinder Singh Ghai from a marauding mob during a train journey.

Cricketers of the time who witnessed the incident recollect how Chauhan, later a twotime BJP MP from Amroha, came to their rescue after the assassination of former PM Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 had triggered nationwide communal riots.

“I remember one of the people from the mob shouted at Chetan paaji and said, ‘We are here to kill the sardars, nothing will happen to you.’ Chetan paaji yelled back, ‘They are my brothers and you can’t touch them.’ The way Chetan Chauhan dealt with the situation was quite commendable,” recalled former Test cricketer Yograj Singh, who witnessed the incident.

The incident took place on ‘Jhelum Express’ when the players of North Zone and Central Zone were returning from Pune after playing a Duleep Trophy semifinal game.

Former Haryana off-spinner Sarkar Talwar told TOI, “The match ended on October 30 and next morning we came to know that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had been assassinated. Our team manager (Prem Bhatia) got us firstclass tickets on Jhelum Express. It was a nightmare journey and it took us four days to reach Delhi.”

“At one of the stations, around 40-50 people entered the compartment looking for people from the Sikh community. We had three Sikh players —Navjot Singh Sidhu, Rajinder Ghai and Yograj Singh — in our team. I vividly remember, Chetan Chauhan and Yashpal Sharma had a heated argument with the mob and once they realised that they were Indian cricketers, the mob got off the compartment,” recollected Talwar.

The players were so scared that they hid Sidhu and Ghai below the lower birth and behind their kit bags. Yograj even told Sidhu to cut his hair. “It was very scary, they were burning trains and after their face-off with Chetan Chauhan and Yashpal, I asked Sidhu, let me cut your hair. He refuted and said, ‘Paaji I have been born as a Sardar and will die like one’,” recalls Yograj, father of cricketer Yuvraj Singh.

Cricketer Gursharan Singh, who was in the different compartment too recollected the incident and said, “If not for Chetan Chauhan, I don’t think that any of us would have survived. Rajinder Hans (former left-arm spinner from Uttar Pradesh) and I were in a different bogie and when we came to know about the incident it left us very scared. But Chetan Chauhan came to us and reassured us that we would be safe and the mob would not trouble us.”

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