The Indian men’s cricket team had their first big success story in ODI cricket in 1983 when the Kapil Dev-led squad won the World Cup in England. It called for massive celebrations, which the BCCI weren’t prepared for initially.
At the time, the BCCI President, the late NKP Salve, turned to his friend Raj Singh Dungarpur, a legend in terms of Indian cricket, for a solution. In turn, Dungarpur turned to one of his friends and one of the country’s biggest cricket fans – Lata Mangeshkar – to do a pro-bono concert in the national capital's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The stadium was packed to capacity for a two-hour programme, which eventually ensured that the BCCI had the funds to give the World Cup winning squad a cash-prize of Rs 1 lakh each.
"It was a very decent sum in those days. We would otherwise save up tour money and daily allowance for that month and it came to barely Rs 60,000," Sunil Valson was quoted as saying by PTI.
"I remember some people said we will give you Rs 5,000, some said Rs 10,000 and it was very disrespectful at times. But then Lata ji sang in that concert. What a function it was and one of the most memorable evenings to watch her sing live," Valson said.
The BCCI were ever so grateful to the legendary singer and since then, and as a mark of respect, the board kept two complimentary VIP tickets for her at Indian stadiums, where India played an international match.
"Just like we have quota for each match (before COVID era) for sponsors, state associations, there are two tickets at every cricket match for Lata ji," a senior BCCI official was quoted as saying by PTI.
Makarand Waigankar, a senior journalist, spoke about the days when the Mangeshkars, who were very huge fans of cricket, were a regular visitor to the Cricket Club of India in the 60s and later at the Wankhede Stadium in 70s and 80s.
"Lata ji and her brother – music composer Hridaynath Mageshkar – were regulars at Test matches held at Brabourne Stadium. Later through the 70s she would hardly miss any game even with such busy recording schedule," Waingankar said.
The legendary Lata Mangeshkar breathed her last on Sunday, 6 February, in Mumbai at the age of 92. Mangeshkar had tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms and was on 8 January admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where she was being treated by Dr. Pratit Samdani and his team of doctors.
Two-day national mourning will be observed in her honour and the national flag will fly at half-mast.
(With PTI Inputs)