Dilip Narayan Sardesai pronunciation (8 August 1940, Margao, Goa – 2 July 2007, Mumbai) was an Indian Test cricketer. He was the only Goa-born cricketer to play for India, and was often regarded as India’s best batsman against spin bowling.
Sardesai made his first mark in cricket in the inter-university Rohinton Baria Trophy in 1959–60 where he made 435 runs at an average of 87. He made his first-class cricket debut for Indian Universities against the touring Pakistan team at Pune in 1960–61, scoring 87 in 194 minutes. His immediate success led to selection for the Board president’s XI against the same team at Bangalore, where he scored 106*, and then as a standby in the final match of the Test series. He scored 202 against Madras University at about the same time, and was then selected to represent Bombay in the Ranji Trophy. He was one of the five Indian Cricket Cricketers of the Year in 1960–61.
Sardesai had little to show in first class cricket in 1961–62, except for a 281 against Gujarat in a university match, but made his Test debut in the 2nd Test against England at Kanpur in December 1961. He toured West Indies later in the season, playing in three of the five Tests. He was the batsman at the other end when Nari Contractor was seriously injured by Charlie Griffith in a match against Barbados. Contractor’s injury created a place for Sardesai in the team. He scored 31 and 60 in the Test at Bridgetown, opening the batting, but was dropped after a pair in the following match. Sardesai scored 449 runs in the five Test series against England in 1963–64 with 79 and 87 in the 5th and final Test as the most notable performances, helping India to secure a draw after being made to follow on.
Against New Zealand in 1964–65, Sardesai scored a double century at Bombay and a very fast hundred that set up a win at Delhi. New Zealand had forced India to follow on at Bombay, but Sardesai’s 200* nearly won the match for India. He played against West Indies in 1966-7, and then toured England in 1967, where he injured himself on a staircase in the pavilion at Lord’s and missed the 1st Test at Headingley. He recovered to appear in the 2nd Test back at Lord’s, but a broken finger sustained during that match ended his tour. He was dropped after two Tests in Australia in 1967–68 due to injury and a series of failures.
Sardesai’s career had seemed over when he was picked for the Indian tour of West Indies in 1970–71. In the 1st Test at Kingston, India lost the first five wickets for 75, before Sardesai hit 212 runs and took the total to 387. His 112 in the next Test at Port of Spain led to India’s first victory over West Indies. He hit another 150 in the 4th Test after India were 70 for 6. His 642 runs in the series stood as an Indian record for five days before Sunil Gavaskar went past it. It was India’s first victory over West Indies in a series and Vijay Merchant, the chairman of selectors, called Sardesai the “renaissance man of Indian cricket”. Sardesai scored 54 and 40 in the Indian win over England at the Oval in 1971, which led to another series win. His career ended one Test later, and he retired from all cricket at the end of the 1972–3 season.
Sardesai played for Bombay in the Ranji Trophy in 13 seasons, including 10 finals, and never finished in a losing side. He scored 199 against Rajasthan in the 1967 final. In the semi-final against the same team two years later, he was Mankaded by Kailash Ghattani. Sardesai’s final first-class match was the famous Ranji final against Madras in 1972–73, which ended on the first ball of the third day. He scored over 1,000 first-class runs in three domestic seasons, with a career best of 1,429 runs in 1964–65, which included his highest first-class score, 222, for Associated Cement Company against Indian Starlets in the final of the Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup Tournament.
- 200 v New Zealand at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, Mar 12-15, 1965
- 106 v New Zealand at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, Delhi, Mar 19-22, 1965
- 212 v West Indies at Sabina Park, Kingston, Feb 18-23, 1971
- 112 v West Indies at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Mar 6-10, 1971
- 150 v West Indies at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Apr 1-6, 1971
Life after cricket
Sardesai used to split his time between his flat in Bombay and house in Goa. He died on 2 July 2007 at 9:15 pm (IST), after he had been admitted to Bombay Hospital on 23 June following a chest infection.
He is survived by his wife, Nandini, who is a sociologist and a member of the Indian Censor Board for motion pictures. His son Rajdeep a prominent journalist, earned a blue for Oxford University in cricket. He was the Editor-in-Chief of IBN18 Network, that includes CNN-IBN, IBN7 and IBN-Lokmat from where he left in July 2014. His daughter, Shonali, is a senior social scientist at the World Bank in Washington DC. His son-in-law Taimur Baig is the Principal Economist at Monetary Authority in Singapore. His daughter-in-law Sagarika Ghose is a Rhodes Scholar, journalist and author. His grandchildren are Ishan, Tarini and Aman.
Sardesai was popularly known as ‘Sardee-man’. During his successful 1970–71 tour there, Sardesai was asked at the airport whether he had anything to declare. ‘I have come here with runs’, he replied, ‘and I’ll go back with more’. (Source)