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.
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.
Courtesy: The Indian Express