My daughter saw the car for the first time, will take her for a spin in it: Ravi Shastri on restored Champion of Champions Audi car

It took us another 15-20 runs to beat Pakistan in the final of the 1985 Benson & Hedges tournament. I watched square leg to check the field laid by Javed Miandad, captain of Pakistan. Javed brightened from midwicket.

“Tu baar baar udhar kya deke raha hai” (Why do you look there repeatedly?) he said with his signature lisp. “Gaadi ko kyun dekh raha hai?!” (Why are you looking at the car). Voh nahi milne waali hai tere ko! (You’re not going to get it!).”

That’s when I took a good look at it and said to him, “Javed, meri taraf hi aa Rahi hai! (It’s coming my way, alone!)”.

So in a way the fun had already started before I got the keys. When I got the keys from Ian Chappell at the post-match ceremony, I heard a buzzing behind him. I look around and my teammates are already sitting all over the car. Sunny (Sunil Gavaskar) sat in the passenger seat. Kapil sat in the back. Others were climbing. I said to Ian, ‘one minute, I’ll be back’.

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I went in, sat inside, turned on the ignition and saw that the gas indicator suggested there was a little gas. Enough for a round. And before the organizers or anyone else could respond, I had started the car and we were off.

Jimmy (Amarnath) sat on the hood. I remember Sadanand Vishwanath sat at the top, and the legend moved from back to front with his spikes seemingly in the air, but had caused enough scratches. Crazy happy times.

As a memory factor, more than most things I’ve done in my life, this car is at the top. The six sixes had a recall, but this is the biggest in my career. The circumstances matched: the timing of one-day cricket, day-and-night matches coming in from Australia, Channel 9 entering India for the first time, 1983 was all white, this was colored clothes and that pristine broadcast. And of course, if you get Pakistan in a final, no one can ever forget – if you win it.

The Audi will be forever remembered for that ride at MCG.

Years later I remember I was on holiday in Frankfurt in Germany, with a nice pint of typical German beer. A large, long Pathan ran across, clear of the northwest border of Pakistan or Afghanistan. He recognized me and the first thing he asked me was “Oh Shastri Ji, voh Gaddi ki ki Haal chaal!” (How’s the car?). I said ‘bikul tick task!’ (It goes well). That’s the kind of range it has.

As I tweeted, it’s just not my car, it’s a national asset and the Indian team’s car, because that’s what it is. It will be forever remembered for that drive at MCG. A happy team, a team that wins the World Cup and now another big ODI tournament in Australia – people don’t forget that. That drive was for 50,000 people, probably a record for a non-Australian match that time. Those memories remain etched in people’s memories, especially of my generation and those who were 7-10 years younger than me.

Thousands at the docks

It came a few months after the tournament, courtesy of India’s shipping company. I still remember that day, in a way the highlight for me with that car. At the docks, there were 8,000-10,000 people to watch it as it came out of the ship’s container. I refused to drive the car because I was wary of running into people because I still wasn’t completely hands-on with that Audi. I had someone from Audi, a real driver, to take him home. On the way people honked from bicycles and it was a big party and I still don’t know how it reached my house without a scratch.

An Audi shipped by Shipping Corporation of India is brought to the dock after being awarded to ‘Champion of the Champions’ Ravi Shastri during the Benson and Hedges Cup – 1985. (Express Archive photo April 19, 1985)

Speaking of scratches, that memorable ride at the MCG had left the car with plenty of scratches, dents and champagne. And Audi was kind enough to send me a brand new car.

Wherever I go in the world, if I need a car to drive, they give me one. I must have driven the Audi the most in England. In that old Audi I went to Alibag and Shirdi (Sai ​​Baba Temple). In the beginning, my father also occasionally took him to the races on Sundays with his friends. He was a doctor, a very selfless one, who was in his two clinics in Mahim and Dharavi until two days before he died. If you go to those places, even if they don’t know me; they will be dr. know Shastri. He was my buddy, my hero, the man who taught me how to live life on my terms.

He stopped turning that car off because he was going to be chased at traffic lights. There weren’t many four-ring Audis back then, and when that number plate MFA 1, everyone knew it was mine. They would crowd the car, thinking I’d be there. So he stopped.

Ravi Shastri’s car ‘Audi 100’.

As I sat in the newly restored car, all the MCG memories surfaced. Who sat where, what we did, all the good times. How the Prime Minister then allowed me to get it tax free; incidentally, only after that was it legal for athletes to return the car to India duty-free if they won it in a tournament.

The best part about this is that my daughter saw the car for the first time in her life. She was in it for the first time. In the next few days I will have her run in it. In a sense, the circle of life would be complete.

(Ravi Shastri is a former India Test cricketer, former coach and commentator. He spoke with Sriram Veera)

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