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Lata ji had also kept a fast for India’s victory in 2011 World Cup semifinal clash against Pakistan
That Lata Mangeshkar was a passionate cricket fan and shared an emotional relationship with a fellow Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar, who referred to her as “Aai” (mother in Marathi), is well-documented. But her support and role as a well wisher of the game and India’s cricketers is perhaps less understood.
In fact, she would often go out of her way to congratulate the Indian team and players. Ratnakar Shetty, who has been involved in cricket administration in various capacities for more than four decades, recalled a couple of such instances while paying his tribute to the Bharat Ratna.
One of the most vivid memories of Mr. Shetty is during India’s tour of Pakistan in 2004, when he was the manager of the team.
“I can never forget that as soon as India sealed the series in Rawalpindi, the first call I received from India was from Lata Didi and she was as excited and joyous as any other Indian. She asked me to pass her congratulatory messages to all the boys,” Mr. Shetty told The Hindu on Sunday.
In 2005 again during Pakistan’s return tour in India, Ms Mangeshkar was with the team all the way. Mr. Shetty, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) then, had reached the Mumbai airport to leave for Kolkata on the last day of the match.
“She called and told me the match was over (it was a draw) and asked me for Dhoni’s number, then told me call him and tell him she wants to speak with him. She used to be literally thrilled whenever the team or any individual did well,” Mr. Shetty recalled.
And it was fitting that the Indian team’s open-top bus ride through Mumbai in 2007 after winning the inaugural World Twenty20 championship, halted for a while below her home on Peddar Road as Ms Mangeshkar waved in jubilation to the victorious cricketers.
Besides her fandom, Ms Mangeshkar played a pivotal role in Indian cricket’s evolution to cricketing heights. In 1983, when Kapil Dev’s boys shocked the cricket fraternity by lifting the Prudential World Cup, the BCCI didn’t have enough funds to reward the team.
It was the Bharat Ratna who volunteered to perform at a concert at the Nehru Stadium in New Delhi so that the proceeds could be used for the welfare of the cricketers. The BCCI has documented that of the ₹21 lakh surplus from the concert, each of the 14 team members and manager P. R. Man Singh were awarded ₹1 lakh. The remaining ₹6 lakh was used to refurbish the Nehru Stadium, which used to host major matches then.
Since then, as a good will gesture, the BCCI offers the Mangeshkar family two tickets for every international match played in India. Besides, the BCCI also facilitated a charity match between the Indian XI and the Sri Lankan XI in 1998 at Wankhede Stadium to help Ms. Mangeshkar raise funds for a hospital in Pune that the family has founded.