India cricketer Vijay Bharadwaj played only 3 Tests and 10 ODIs for India. He made his debut during 1999 LG Cup in Kenya and was rather named the Man of the Tournament for scoring 89 runs and accounting for 10 wickets. Then why didn’t he play more for his country? What went wrong? It was India’s 1999 tour of Australia which dented his confidence badly and halted what could’ve been a brilliant career.
India lost all the three Tests under Sachin Tendulkar‘s captaincy and also won only a solitary ODI in the tri-series including Pakistan. Recalling the disastrous tour, Vijay Bharadwaj states that almost every player was failing which left him stunned as a youngster. Though Tendulkar had scored 278 runs, he had no clue about his captaincy while Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly mustered only 93 and 177 runs respectively in three Tests.
“We travelled to Australia, one of the toughest tours. I had never ever seen an Australian pitch before that. I sat (out) for two Test matches. Everybody was failing. Rahul’s series average was somewhere around 15 or 20. Imagine someone who had played 5-6 years of Indian cricket was failing. (Sourav) Ganguly was a failure as well in that series, never got (many) runs. VVS Laxman didn’t score, no opener could score,” Bharadwaj told Times of India.
Vijay Bharadwaj played only one Test on the tour
The 44-year-old had never played in Australia before and by the time, he got a chance, India had lost the series. He was drafted into the XI in Sydney Test and India, after electing to bat first, was bowled out for just 150. Eventually, they lost badly by an innings and 141 runs with Vijay Bharadwaj scoring only six runs.
He didn’t bat in the second innings as he injured his back and didn’t pick a wicket in 12 overs he bowled either. Unfortunately, he never played Tests for India again and only played a solitary ODI almost two years later against Zimbabwe which turned out to be the last game of his career.
“I went in at No. 6 or No. 7. Imagine the morale of the team. Sachin (Tendulkar) was devastated because he was performing as a batsman, but as a captain he was not able to understand what was happening. So what would happen to a youngster like me when some of the seniors were failing like that. They had no clue what was happening. We lost 3-0.
“During the Sydney Test that I played, my back got injured badly. For the next one and a half years, I didn’t get up because I was bedridden; and nobody even bothered to ask me what was happening. I was totally lost,” Vijay Bharadwaj added.
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