I have lost my Guru and a dear friend: Kapil Dev
Chandigarh: Legendary cricketer Kapil Dev on Saturday turned emotional at the demise of his coach and Dronacharya awardee Desh Prem Azad, saying he has lost his Guru and a dear friend.
"He was my Guru. I have lost my Guru. More than that, he was also a great friend of mine," said Kapil, who struggled to keep his tears under control after Azad was cremated here in the presence of a large gathering of sportspersons and administrators.
"I owe him a lot for whatever I have achieved in my life as a cricketer," Kapil told reporters.
He said that it was very difficult to put the loss in words.
"I can`t explain in words, it is very difficult. He made a great contribution to the sport and a number of cricketers owe a lot to him. He was a friend to me," said Kapil.
"We all have to carry forward what he has left behind," he added.
Born in Amritsar on January 20, 1938, Azad died of a cardiac arrest at a private hospital in Mohali on Friday.
Azad, who is survived by wife and two sons, played 19 first-class cricket matches representing Haryana, then Maharaja of Patiala`s XI and southern Punjab.
Besides Kapil Dev, another Azad`s student and former India cricketer Chetan Sharma, also recalled the contribution of the coach to his career.
"I was just seven years when I came to him. He used to take me on his scooter and then I used to train for hours under his guidance," Chetan said.
Chetan also recalled Azad`s advice after he was hit for a last-ball six in an ODI match versus Pakistan over 27 years ago.
"After that match against Pakistan, I played in the series against England. Azad Sir was with me on that tour. Being hit for a six was still lurking in my mind and in the first Test (against England), I was not getting wickets. Azad Sir told Kapil paaji (brother) to ask me to bowl from the far end instead of the pavillion end, which bore fruit and I got five wickets," Sharma recollected.
"it is a huge setback to me. I pray that his soul may rest in peace".