Legendary cricketer Kapil Dev on Saturday turned emotional at the demise of his coach and Dronacharya awardee Desh Prem Azad, saying he has lost his Guru and a dear friend.
"He was my Guru. I have lost my Guru. More than that, he was also a great friend of mine," said Kapil, who struggled to keep his tears under control after Azad was cremated here in the presence of a large gathering of sportspersons and administrators.
"I owe him a lot for whatever I have achieved in my life as a cricketer," Kapil told reporters.
He said that it was very difficult to put the loss in words.
"I can't explain in words, it is very difficult. He made a great contribution to the sport and a number of cricketers owe a lot to him. He was a friend to me," said Kapil.
"We all have to carry forward what he has left behind," he added.
Born in Amritsar on January 20, 1938, Azad died of a cardiac arrest at a private hospital in Mohali on Friday.
Azad, who is survived by wife and two sons, played 19 first-class cricket matches representing Haryana, then Maharaja of Patiala's XI and southern Punjab.
Besides Kapil Dev, another Azad's student and former India cricketer Chetan Sharma, also recalled the contribution of the coach to his career.
"I was just seven years when I came to him. He used to take me on his scooter and then I used to train for hours under his guidance," Chetan said. Chetan also recalled Azad's advice after he was hit for a last-ball six in an ODI match versus Pakistan over 27 years ago.
"After that match against Pakistan, I played in the series against England. Azad Sir was with me on that tour. Being hit for a six was still lurking in my mind and in the first Test (against England), I was not getting wickets. Azad Sir told Kapil paaji (brother) to ask me to bowl from the far end instead of the pavillion end, which bore fruit and I got five wickets," Sharma recollected.
"it is a huge setback to me. I pray that his soul may rest in peace".