Mumbai, Sep 13: A motivational book about top Indian sportspersons who overcame disability and adversity to become champions, and co-authored by former international shuttler Sanjay Sharma, was launched by former Test cricketer Rahul Dravid at suburban Khar Gymkhana here on Friday (September 12).
In their book, Sharma and his daughter Medini have captured stories of differently-abled Indian sportspersons who went on to achieve great things on the sports field.
Former India cricket captain Dravid, an avid reader, said he was inspired by the story of Murlikant Petkar, who was disabled during the 1965 war against Pakistan, sustaining severe bullet wounds, but won an individual gold medal in the 1972 Paralympics in Germany.
"As a player, when you play cricket, you often find words like courage and brave by journalists to describe sporting achievements. When I read this book, I realised that courage is not what we do on a cricket field," the 41-year-old said.
"The Wall" recalled his experience of meeting former Test captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi for the first time, saying he was struck by the fact that the late cricketer had no sense of resentment about the car accident in England that robbed him of vision on one eye.
"When I got into the Indian team I was, as most young kids were, a huge fan of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. I hadn't watch him play but I had seen him. I heard Vishy (Gundappa Vishwanath) and Erapalli Prasanna talk about him a lot. So, in 1997 I got into the team and I was in Delhi to play a Test match against Australia. I thought it would be a good opportunity to go and meet Mr Pataudi, just to talk to him," Dravid said.
"I didn't have the courage to ask him up or pick up the phone and, through a common friend, I finally managed to arrange it (a meeting). We spoke a lot about cricket, and I asked him a lot of questions about captaincy and various things about batting," said Dravid.
"One of the things that I came away with from that meeting was the sheer lack of bitterness that Pataudi must have felt. Here was a person who at 21 was recognised in England as one of the most exciting young talents that was in English County scene at that time," Dravid said.
Pataudi's daughter and Bollywood actress Soha Ali was present at the event and said, "He would never speak about the accident. He would get very annoyed if you asked him about it.
"I would tell him instead of being one of the great cricketers or perhaps making many more runs, wasn't it so much cooler to be the only one-eyed cricketing legend. I don't think he shared that childish sentiment."
Former Test all-rounder Bapu Nadkarni, who had played under Pataudi nicknamed 'Tiger' by his close friends, shared his experience with the former captain in the book.
"The image of 'Tiger' facing those demonic fast bowlers with no helmet, a slanted cap over his right eye, head at an angle to ensure that he saw the ball with just one eye, will always remain with me," he has written in the book.
"The knock he played at Melbourne (in 1968) on a green track was probably the best he played. I saw Don Bradman coming down to talk to him and tell him... Young man I wish I had some of the shots you played today. You were brilliant. Well played.
"The oppositions were lucky that he played with one eye. If he had both eyes, he would have broken every record," Nadkarni has added in his tribute to his former captain.
Former wicket-keeper and present selector Saba Karim lost 85 per cent of his vision in one eye in 2000 when he was struck by a ball while keeping wickets and met the former India captain to seek the latter's advice, he has written.
"Till I met him, I was fighting my injury and was hoping I would regain my normal vision and it was 'Tiger' (Pataudi) who told me to accept my fate and move on. He said the vision will not improve and I would have to rectify the techniques to play at the level I was used to.
"He told me how to adjust and play with impaired vision. Once while leaving his house, I was so concerned about my injury that I asked him how long it took him to recover. A chill ran down my spine when he replied, Saba, I never did recover," Karim wrote.
The book also gives insight into the lives of differently-abled players like Rajeev Bagga, Murlikant Petkar, Taranath Shenoy, Rajaram Ghag and Satya Prakash Tiwari.