To say the cricket fraternity in India, and Tamil Nadu in particular, is shell-shocked would be an understatement. Such was VB Chandrasekhar’s involvement with the game in different capacities, long after he stopped wielding the willow, that no one is able to come to terms with his sudden departure.
The former India and Tamil Nadu opening batsman was found dead at his home in Chennai on Thursday evening. He was 57.
Though initial reports said it was a case of cardiac arrest, the Chennai police has now confirmed it is a case of suicide. Sources close to Chandrasekhar suggest he was under duress due to losses incurred while running the Kanchi Veerans team in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL). While he had invested Rs 3 crore in the TNPL team, he was also running a cricket coaching centre.
Others who knew Chandrasekhar’s background aren’t convinced. They say with his close association with India Cements and N Srinivasan, there was no way he would not have been bailed out of a financial mess. Discreet enquiries are being made to find out if Chandrasekhar was facing any other problems.
“He was not an extravagant sort who would spend beyond his means. He was flashy only on the cricket pitch. He led a simply lifestyle,” said a close friend who is not convinced about the debt theory being put out.
Chandrasekhar along with Krishnamachari Srikkanth formed one of the most destructive opening pairs in first class cricket in India. He played for India in the late 1980s in seven ODIs. His claim to fame however, was the fastest hundred in first class cricket in India. In 1988, he hit a 56-ball century in the Irani cup match for Tamil Nadu against Rest of India. The record was broken only in 2016 by Rishabh Pant in a Ranji Trophy game against Jharkhand. While congratulating Pant, Chandrasekhar was to tell him not to try the same everytime he goes out to bat.
Chandrasekhar came into his own in his second innings after he put away his pads. He was national selector and later also coached the Tamil Nadu Ranji team during the 2012-13 season. He was also a popular commentator in Tamil for Star Sports.
But it was his key role in convincing Srinivasan to go for MS Dhoni over Virender Sehwag for Chennai Super Kings that is most remembered. Srinivasan and CSK have not regretted that call taken then by Chandrasekhar.