Mumbai: It was Balwinder Sandhu`s reassuring words that helped Sandeep Patil become more confident about the prospect of facing dreaded late West Indian quick Malcolm Marshall on the cricket pitch during India`s triumphant World Cup campaign in 1983, according to a soon-to-be-launched book.
In his soon-to-be-launched book titled "The Devil`s Pack", co-authored by his former Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers teammate Austin Coutinho, Sandhu has written about his 1983 Cup-winning mates, including triumphant captain Kapil Dev and legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar.
"Emerging from a disturbed family life, a movie that bombed and injury problems, Sandeep Patil did well to be selected for the World Cup of 1983. He had never faced the West Indies pacemen and would keep asking whether he would be able to play them," an extract from the book says.
"How fast are they? Can you see the ball, facing them?" he would inquire. "Hey, Sandy!" I would tell him.”
"I`ve hooked Marshall for two boundaries in the Jamaica Test. If I can do that, you can do a lot better!".
"I couldn`t tell him that both my shots to the demon pace bowler were instinctive and that I saw the ball only at the last moment. Marshall was a slippery customer and most of his deliveries just skidded past you.
"The reassurances and his inborn talent helped Patla do well on that trip and our bond of friendship got further strengthened post the World Cup campaign," Sandhu has written.
Sandhu has also chronicled the leg-pulling that went on during the campaign between the two and their common love for wild life which was developed when they had visited Kenya.
"During the World Cup, one morning he came excitedly into my room and asked, "Ballu, have you read today`s newspaper?" "Which paper?" I asked. "Sandy, the papers here are in English, not Marathi!" He was so taken aback that the fizz went out of him like an opened soda water bottle," the former India new ball bowler has written.
"Sandy ? or Patla as he is known to his teammates ? used to spend a lot of time at Masai Mara when he was in Kenya either as a player or coach. I have accompanied him on many of his trips to the wild life park and both of us have felt at home with the lions there. Both of us just love lions and can spend hours watching their majestic movements.”
"After many such trips, we once went with our families to Masai Mara and our kids were surprised that the animals just sat aside and watched us as we drove through.”
"Sandeep has come to Masai Mara so often," I explained, "that the lions now come out to watch him whenever he visits!" Everybody had a hearty laugh, including Patla himself.
"On another one of those safaris, our families were in different vans and there were other cricketers from Mumbai accompanying us. Seeing a bunch of cheetahs, Sandeep Patil asked the driver to close up on them so that he could take some pictures on his handy-cam. However, his car got stuck in the slush and we could see him waving out desperately to us.”
"Scared that one of the cheetahs ? who are brilliant sprinters - would have us for meal, some of us got out of the car and somehow pushed Sandeep Patil`s van to safety. We had endangered our lives to help Sandeep Patil, but during the rescue act, Patla was busy taking video pictures from the safety of the van and informing me that if a cheetah chooses to come after me, I would be his biggest kill of the season!"