Updated: August 16, 2018 12:48:19 am
Former India Test captain Ajit Wadekar, who led the country to its first win in England in 1971, passed away at 77 on Wednesday after a prolonged illness. He breathed his last at Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital. Wadekar made his debut in 1966 against the West Indies and went on to represent India in 37 Tests and two one-day internationals. He was one of the few cricketers to represent the country as a Test player, captain, coach and also went on to become the chairman of selectors. Wadekar was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1972.
As an aggressive left-hand batsman, Wadekar went on to score 2,113 runs at an average of 31.07 in Tests. However, after making his first-class debut in the 1958-59 season (for erstwhile Bombay), he had to wait for almost eight years to receive his first international cap. His only Test century. a match-winning 143, came against New Zealand in Wellington in 1968.
Wadekar’s last Test was against England in 1974. As India suffered a 0-3 loss during the 1974 series, he stepped down from captaincy and subsequently retired from Test cricket. Wadekar made his ODI debut later that year but only played a couple of matches after which he hung his boots from international cricket. Apart from being a brilliant no 3 batsmen, the southpaw was an equally capable fielder in the slip cordon. Incidentally, Wadekar was also legendary Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar’s first Ranji and Test captain.
Ajit Wadekar’s demise led to an outpour of emotions on Twitter and rich tributes poured in for the former India Test skipper. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several former India cricketers expressed their condolences on Twitter. Here are some of the reactions-
Ajit Wadekar will be remembered for his rich contribution to Indian cricket. A great batsman & wonderful captain, he led our team to some of the most memorable victories in our cricketing history. He was also respected as an effective cricket administrator. Pained by his demise.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 15 August 2018
So many memories of Ajit Wadekar. None more powerful than leading India to series wins in 1971 in England and the West Indies. Much admired, much loved. Page in Indian cricket and in our memories.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) 15 August 2018
Deeply saddened by the demise of an iconic Indian cricketer Ajit Wadekar ji. Thoughts with his family and close ones. May his soul rest in peace.
— Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) 15 August 2018
Extremely saddened by the news that former Indian cricket captain #AjitWadekar is no more. He led India to many historic victories! My condolences to the friends & family! RIP Sir, you will always be missed!
After retiring from cricket, Wadekar also worked as coach/manager of the Indian cricket team during the 1990s alongside Mohammad Azharuddin. Under his tutelage, India became a force to be reckoned with in home conditions. For his invaluable contribution to Indian cricket, Wadekar was also awarded the CK Nayudu Lifetime achievement.
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