He was a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning side
In his first-class career that spanned nearly two decades, Sharma scored 8933 runs, with 21 centuries and 46 half-centuries.
Post-retirement, he remained actively involved in coaching, commentary and cricket administration. He served as a national selector across two stints, first from 2004 to 2005, and later from 2008 to 2011. He was part of the committee that picked India’s 2011 World Cup-winning squad. He also officiated in a number of domestic matches, both as an umpire and match referee. Most recently, he was part of Delhi’s Cricket Advisory Committee.
The news was met with shock by his former team-mates, some of whom he had met last month on the anniversary of the 1983 World Cup win.
“It is unbelievable,” Dilip Vengsarkar told PTI. “He was the fittest among all of us. I had asked him that day, when we met, about his routine. He was a vegetarian, teetotaller, used to have soup for his dinner and very particular about his morning walks. I am just shocked.”
“As a player, he was a proper team man and a fighter,” Vengsarkar added. “I fondly remember the 1979 Test against Pakistan in Delhi. We had a partnership that helped us save the game. I knew him since my university days. Still can’t believe it.”
Kirti Azad, another member of that 1983 team, had also met him last month. “He told me that day we met that I had lost weight. We had a great reunion. I remember the very first game in the 1983 World Cup playing the mighty West Indies with those fast bowlers, he set the agenda and we won that game,” Azad told PTI.
“He was again fantastic in the semifinal, hitting Bob Willis for a six. Nowadays people say [Ravindra] Jadeja hits the stumps regularly but so did Yashpal. He was a livewire on the field and would hit stumps all the time,” Azad said.
Sharma was born in Ludhiana and represented Punjab, Haryana and Railways in the domestic circuit. He first came into national contention in 1977, when he made a match-winning 173 for North Zone in the Duleep Trophy final, against a South Zone attack comprising BS Chandrasekhar, S Abid Ali and Erapalli Prasanna.
Sharma is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo