Chetan Sharma, often described as a "pocket-sized powerhouse," is a name that resonates with cricket enthusiasts who followed the game during the 1980s and early 1990s. Despite his diminutive stature, Sharma's prowess on the cricket field was undeniable. He compensated for his lack of height with a robust action and a thrust from the shoulders at the point of delivery. This made him a force to reckon with, especially when he partnered with the legendary Kapil Dev. Chetan Sharma's journey in international cricket spanned from 1983 to 1994, during which he showcased his talent and determination, proving many sceptics wrong.
Born on January 3, 1966, in Ludhiana, Punjab, Chetan Sharma's entry into the world of cricket was nothing short of spectacular. He made his international debut at the tender age of 17. By the time he was 18 years and 288 days old, he had already played his first Test match. With just his fifth ball, he made a memorable debut in cricket history by taking down Mohsin Khan, joining the ranks of only two other Indians to have achieved such a feat in their first over of Test cricket. In his debut, he became the 3rd Indian to take a wicket in his first over in Test cricket by bowling Mohsin Khan with his fifth ball, leaving a mark in cricket history.
Chetan Sharma's early years in international cricket were marked by some remarkable performances. He first caught the attention of the cricketing world during India's tour of Sri Lanka in 1985, where he claimed 14 wickets in three Tests. This included his maiden five-wicket haul, signalling his arrival on the big stage. His prowess was further highlighted during India's tour of England in 1986. Here, he took 16 wickets in just two Tests, achieving the first ten-wicket haul by an Indian bowler in England. This feat was a testament to his skill and determination, especially against a formidable English side.
His performances against the mighty West Indies in 1987-88 were also noteworthy. In a Test match at New Delhi, he secured his fourth five-wicket haul, further cementing his place in the Indian cricket team. Chetan Sharma's Test career lasted until 1989, with his last Test being against the West Indies. However, he continued to don the blue jersey in one-day internationals until the 1994-95 season.
Apart from his bowling, Chetan Sharma was a competent tailend batsman. He showcased his batting skills during a match against Australia in 1985, where he bravely faced the likes of McDermott, Hughes, and Reid for over two hours, scoring a resilient 54 after being sent in as a nightwatchman. Another memorable moment came in 1989 during the MRF World Series match against England, where he was promoted to No. 4 and played a scintillating knock of 101 not out.
In the years following his retirement from active cricket, Chetan Sharma transitioned into a popular TV commentator, sharing his insights and experiences with a new generation of cricket fans.
Chetan Sharma's cricketing journey is adorned with numerous milestones and achievements that have cemented his place in the annals of Indian cricket history.
Historic Hat-trick in the World Cup: One of the most iconic moments in Chetan Sharma's career was during the 1987 Cricket World Cup. He achieved the remarkable feat of taking the first-ever hat-trick in a Cricket World Cup. It must have been an unforgettable moment when he successfully clean-bowled Ken Rutherford, Ian Smith, and Ewen Chatfield off consecutive deliveries during the match against New Zealand. This hat-trick was not only a first in World Cup history but also marked the first time an Indian bowler achieved this in the one-day international format.
Stellar Performance in England: Chetan Sharma's performance during India's tour of England in 1986 remains one of the highlights of his career. He claimed a staggering 16 wickets in just two Test matches. His exceptional bowling at Birmingham, where he secured a career-best 6 for 58 in the second innings, culminated in a 10-wicket match haul. This remains the only 10-wicket haul by an Indian in England. His name is etched in the Hall of Fame board at Lord's Cricket Ground, a testament to his outstanding performance.
Valuable Contributions with the Bat: Apart from his bowling prowess, Sharma also showcased his batting skills on several occasions. One of the most notable innings of his career came against England in the Nehru Cup in 1989. Promoted to No.3, he scored a blistering 101* off just 96 balls, sealing the match for India. His century was completed with the match-winning run, showcasing his ability to perform under pressure.
Enduring Partnership with Kapil Dev: Throughout the mid-1980s, Chetan Sharma formed a formidable bowling partnership with the legendary Kapil Dev. The duo often opened the bowling for India, with Sharma's pace and swing complementing Kapil's seam and bounce. This partnership was instrumental in several of India's victories during this period.
Transition to Leadership Roles: After his retirement from active cricket, Chetan Sharma continued to contribute to the sport. He was appointed as the chairman of the selection committee of the Indian cricket team in December 2020. Although he faced challenges and controversies during his tenure, his dedication to Indian cricket remained unwavering.
Test Career: Chetan Sharma played 23 Test matches for India, during which he bowled 3470 balls, conceding 2163 runs and taking 61 wickets. His best bowling figures in an innings were 6/58, and he achieved a five-wicket haul four times.
One Day Internationals (ODIs): In the 65 ODIs that he played, Sharma bowled 2835 balls, giving away 2336 runs and claiming 67 wickets. His best figures in this format were 3/22.
First-Class Career: Spanning over 121 matches, Sharma bowled 19,934 balls, allowing 11,282 runs and taking an impressive 433 wickets. His best bowling figures in an innings in first-class cricket were 7/72.
List A Career: In 107 List A matches, he bowled 4,504 balls, conceded 3,614 runs, and took 115 wickets. His best performance in this format was 5/16.
Chetan Sharma's career, both as a player and later in administrative roles, has been marked by dedication, resilience, and a passion for the game. His achievements, both on and off the field, serve as an inspiration for budding cricketers and fans alike.
Chetan Sharma's legacy in Indian cricket is multifaceted. While his on-field achievements are commendable, his off-field contributions and the impact he left on the game are equally significant.
Trailblazer for Fast Bowlers: In an era dominated by spinners, Chetan Sharma emerged as one of the few genuine fast bowlers India had. His success on the international stage paved the way for future generations of Indian pacers. He showcased that even on subcontinent pitches, which traditionally favoured spinners, a fast bowler with skill and determination could make a mark.
Mentorship and Guidance: Post his playing days, Chetan Sharma took on the role of a mentor and guide for young cricketers. His insights, derived from years of international experience, proved invaluable for budding talents. He was often seen sharing his expertise with young pacers, helping them refine their techniques and strategies.
Administrative Contributions: Chetan Sharma's appointment as the chairman of the selection committee of the Indian team in 2020 was a testament to his understanding of the game and his vision for Indian cricket's future. In this role, he was instrumental in making crucial decisions regarding team selections, nurturing young talents, and setting the direction for the team's future endeavours.
Resilience in the Face of Adversity: Throughout his career, Chetan Sharma faced numerous challenges, from injuries to controversies. However, his resilience and ability to bounce back set an example for many. His journey taught aspiring cricketers the importance of perseverance, dedication, and the never-give-up attitude.
A Versatile Cricketer: Chetan Sharma's contributions weren't limited to just bowling. He was a competent batsman, often providing valuable runs down the order. Because of his comprehensive skill set, he was an important component of the squad, and many people considered him to be a logical choice to fill the role of all-rounder vacated by Kapil Dev.
Impact Beyond Cricket: Chetan Sharma's influence extended beyond the cricket field. His transition to a popular TV commentator allowed him to connect with a new generation of cricket enthusiasts, sharing his insights and experiences. Furthermore, his brief foray into politics and his involvement in various cricketing academies showcased his commitment to societal growth and the development of the sport at the grassroots level.
Chetan Sharma's journey in the world of cricket is a tale of passion, dedication, and resilience. From making his mark as a young pacer to his contributions in administrative roles, his impact on Indian cricket is profound.
His achievements on the field, be it the historic World Cup hat-trick or his stellar performances in England, are etched in the memories of cricket enthusiasts. But it's his off-field contributions, his mentorship, and his vision for the future of Indian cricket that truly define his legacy.
In an era where spinners were the primary weapon in India's bowling arsenal, Chetan Sharma emerged as a beacon for fast bowlers. His success laid the foundation for future generations of pacers, proving that with the right skill set and determination, fast bowlers could thrive even on the subcontinent's pitches.
His legacy is not just about the records he set or the matches he won for India. It's about the path he paved for others, the challenges he overcame, and the indomitable spirit he showcased throughout his career. Chetan Sharma's story serves as an inspiration for countless young cricketers, teaching them the values of hard work, perseverance, and the importance of never giving up, no matter the odds.
In the annals of Indian cricket, Chetan Sharma will always be remembered as a cricketer who gave his all for the nation, a mentor who guided the next generation, and an administrator who envisioned a brighter future for Indian cricket. His legacy is a testament to his love for the game, his dedication to his craft, and his unwavering commitment to excellence.
Who is Chetan Sharma in Indian cricket?
Chetan Sharma is a retired Indian cricketer who played as a fast bowler for the Indian cricket team during the 1980s and early 1990s. He's notably remembered for taking the first-ever hat-trick in a Cricket World Cup.
What is Chetan Sharma's most significant achievement in World Cup cricket?
Chetan Sharma's most significant achievement in World Cup cricket is taking the first-ever hat-trick during the 1987 Cricket World Cup against New Zealand.
When did Chetan Sharma retire from international cricket?
Chetan Sharma retired from international cricket in 1994, with his last ODI appearance being in November of that year.
What role did Chetan Sharma take on after retiring from active cricket?
After his retirement, Chetan Sharma transitioned into a popular TV commentator, sharing his cricketing insights. He was also appointed as the chairman of the selection committee of the Indian cricket team in 2020.
Did Chetan Sharma have any significant batting achievements?
Yes, apart from his bowling prowess, Chetan Sharma was a competent batsman. One of his notable innings was scoring 101* off 96 balls against England in the Nehru Cup in 1989.