Former India cricketer and two-time MP Chetan Chauhan dies of COVID-19

Published : Aug 16, 2020 22:01 IST

Chetan Chauhan in action.

Chetan Chauhan in action.

Former India opening batsman Chetan Chauhan is no more. After being diagnosed with COVID-19 in early July, Chauhan fought a long and courageous battle before succumbing at Medanta hospital in Gurugram. A two-term BJP MP from Amroha, Chauhan, 73, was a Minister in the Yogi Cabinet. He was a sports minister till recently.

It is, however, as a cricketer that Chauhan earned his spurs. Better known as Sunil Gavaskar’s longest-serving opening partner, Chauhan was part of India’s memorable 413 run chase at the Oval in 1980. While Gavaskar made a double century, Chauhan fell for 80, one of the 16 half centuries he notched up in the course of 40 Tests and over 2000 runs. The Oval dismissal was symbolic of his Test career. He was often close to a century but never managed to score one. Twice he got into the 90s, his highest being 97. While his fans often shared his disappointment, he became the butt of jokes of his detractors for his inability to turn a fighting 80 or 90 into a hundred. Regardless, Chauhan continued with his gritty displays, often taking on the most fearsome fast bowlers like Imran Khan, Bob Willis and Dennis Lillee without flinching, his sturdy defence interspersed with fierce square cuts and the occasional flicks. Incidentally, Chauhan was at the non-striker’s end in the Melbourne Test when Gavaskar, enraged at an umpiring decision, walked off the field with his partner, ready to forfeit the Test.

In domestic cricket, Chauhan was active for almost 18 years, representing Maharashtra and Delhi with aplomb even as he racked up over 11,000 first class runs, including 59 half centuries, and, incredibly, 21 centuries. A fine close-in fielder and occasional off-spinner, Chauhan went into the game's administrative side after retirement in 1985. He served the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) as president, vice president and secretary. He was the manager of the Indian cricket team in 2007-08. In 2016, he was made the chairman of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), a move mired in controversy, considering his lack of qualification for the post.

Chauhan will be remembered as one half of India’s best opening partnership. With Gavaskar, he notched up more than 3,000 runs in 59 innings at an incredible average of 53 between 1973 and 1981. What he lacked in talent he made up with guts, what he lacked in strokes he made up with tons of patience.


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