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Chetan Chauhan 'deserved' much better in politics, could have been Indian Imran Khan

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*

Chetan Chauhan Singh, the stylish, wristy and nudgy opening batsman of the Indian Cricket Team, has become another victim of the pandemic. He was my childhood hero along with Sunil Gavaskar and Farokh Engineer, Eknath Solkar and Abid Ali. India has lost a worthy and versatile son in him.
When he came to the Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi, as the chief guest of the final of Sardar Hargopal Singh Annual Cricket Tournament, a couple of years ago, I was fortunate to have had a heart-to-heart talk with him on his cricketing and political career that I thought of transforming into an interview, which owing to the work pressure and daily mundane demands, couldn’t do. Right from my childhood, I knew that after many unsuccessful opening partnerships of Ramnath Parker, Farokh Engineer, Dileep Sardesai etc, stability was cemented by Gavaskar and Chauhan.
According to SMH Kirmani, a wicket keeper of the Indian Cricket Team, in politics, Chetan Chauhan – who was a minister in the Yogi Adityanath ministry – was Indian Imran Khan. But unlike Imran Khan, he wasn’t lucky to have reached that pinnacle in Indian politics. “Nevertheless, Chetan certainly deserved a better status that just being a minister in a state!” said Kirmani, calling him one of the most fearless openers not only of India but the world, the way he had faced some the fastest lethal bowling at that time including Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Andy Roberts and Michael Holding.
Chetan told me about the story of his unfortunate early ouster from the Indian Cricket Team. In some sagacious tone, he expressed, rather whispered in my ears in confidence, what I would say that at time both cricket and politics had become something equivalent to whoring.
The same thing that Gautam Gambhir, once my student at the same school, shared with me as to why just on account of some bickering regarding captainship in the three formats of the game, he was meted with harsh discrimination at the hands of some present bigwigs of the present cricketing cream of India. Having been member of Parliament (MP) twice, he deserved a much better status in politics.
Considered one of the flamboyant and gutsy batsmen of Indian cricket who would hit the bouncers to what their destiny is, unlike the other Indian batsmen who would be mortally scared of facing them, Chetan played 40 Test matches and seven one day internationals (ODIs). He was Sunil Gavaskar’s longest playing opening partner during the 1970s and early 1980s.  
Chetan Chauhan and Gavaskar scored over 3,000 runs together with 10 century stands in Tests. In his long and illustrious career, Chauhan scored 2,084 Test runs at an average of 31.57 with 97 being his highest score. Many times, he was in the 90s but wasn’t lucky to be a centurion.
An interesting record of sorts held by him was that Chetan Chauhan happened to be the first player in the Test history to score more than 2000 runs without a hundred. In domestic cricket, he was a lavish scorer and outside India, he had built a reputation of being a tenacious fighter and scorer. The best cricketing moment of Chetan’s life, in his words, was the 213-run stand he put with Sunil Gavaskar at The Oval in 1979, breaking the then previous record for the highest opening wicket partnership that was held by Vijay Merchant and Mushtaq Ali, who put on 203 runs.
Having bidden farewell to the most sought after game in India at that time and even today, Chauhan served in many capacities as an expert cricket guide and trainer, especially for Delhi’s schoolchildren. He also came to Modern School many times. He looked after the DDCA (Delhi & Districts Cricket Association), was the president, vice-president, secretary. Besides, he was also the chief selector plus the manager of the Indian Team during its tour of Australia in 2001.
He was serving as minister under the Adityanath Yogi government, with the responsibility of the Sainik Welfare, Home Guards, PRD and Civil Security in the Uttar Pradesh cabinet. Till last year, he served as the sports minister of the state.
---
*Chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University; grandnephew, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad; community worker and columnist

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