From poster boy to the man in the hot seat

New Delhi, Sept. 28 -- A poster boy of Indian cricket in the 1980s and a key member of the 1983 World Cup winning team, Sandeep Patil's cricketing journey comes a full circle as he takes over as the national selection committee chairman. The 56-year-old former Mumbai batsman's six-year India career didn't do justice to his talent, and he faced some blame for a lack of dedication and fitness. Then followed a number of coaching assignments, including a brief India stint in the mid-1990s, which was not successful.

He remained on the fringes of the country's cricketing set-up until he ended his stint with the rebel Indian Cricket League in 2009.

Patil was the glamour boy of the 1980s, smashing the bowlers on the pitch and rubbing shoulders with Bollywood celebrities off it, even acting in the 1985 Hindi film, Kabhi Ajnabi The.

He came into national notice by hitting a flurry of sixes while playing a big innings in a domestic match, his flamboyance as a player drawing crowds to the ground.

Patil left his stamp on the exciting 1981 tour of Australia when he smashed Dennis Lillee and Lenny Pascoe to score a career-best 174 at Adelaide, a courageous effort after being felled by a Pascoe special in the previous Test in Sydney.

World Cup hero

On the 1982 England tour, he hit pace great Bob Willis for six fours in an over (seven-ball over due to a no-ball) before playing a crucial role in the World Cup. But his career petered out, a dodgy shoulder forcing him to throw under-arm as a fielder towards the end.

Patil started his coaching career with India A and was named the national coach for the 1996 tour of Sri Lanka, where Sachin Tendulkar made his debut as skipper.

But it was not a tenure Patil would relish, as the young skipper did not enjoy a stress-free atmosphere.

He coached Kenya to the 2003 World Cup semifinals in South Africa, but on his return home could not really establish himself. His rehabilitation came when he was appointed director of the National Cricket Academy.

His former team-mate Madan Lal describes him as "happy go lucky" but Patil has a task on hand as the MS Dhoni-led side have plenty of ground to regain in Tests and Tendulkar is in the final phase of his glorious career.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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