Ajit Wadekar, India’s first ODI captain passes away in Mumbai
Ajit Wadekar, India’s first ODI captain passes away in Mumbai

NEW DELHI: Ajit Wadekar, the skipper of India’s historic wins against the West Indies and England in 1971, passed away at a Mumbai Hospital on Wednesday.

Vijay Merchant in My Cricketing Years, Wadekar’s autobiography, wrote, “He is never nervous or embarrassed by crisis.” Most Indian supporters were in a state of high anxiety when India was making painful progress over England in the test match but Wadekar kept his cool.

Alex Bannister of The Daily Mail wrote, “It is no secret that I(Wadekar) was fast asleep during India’s finest hour. The cheering and the excitement of our supporters at the Oval did not disturb me.” He scored 48 and 45 in the match and only Dilip Sardesai, 54 and 40, had scored more among the Indians.

Wadekar who batted at No 3 could hook and pull the fearsome and the fastest. During his time he was also among the sharpest catchers, 46 catches in 37 tests, in the slips. He scored 2,113 runs at an average of 31.07. He score only one century, 143, against New Zealand in Wellington a year earlier for another winning cause. “Wadekar at Wellington gave his side the long and thoughtful innings that was needed,” wrote Dick Brittenden, a New Zealand cricket writer, in the Wisden.

The chairman Merchant wrote, “He set an excellent example in discipline and team work and by persuasion and sociable nature was able to extract full cooperation and the best effort from them. He never threw his weight about just because he was the captain and never split the team into groups or parties. He knew how to handle men and his players learned to respect him not only for his cricketing ability but also for his captaincy and gentlemanliness.”

Wadekar, who was scared of taking injections said, “I can hardly bear taking an injection. I would rather face a bouncer from Snow, Dowe or even Lillee.” He earned a job in the State Bank of India as he was good at mathematics.

“Ajit Wadekar will be remembered for his rich contribution to Indian cricket. A great batsman and 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,” tweeted PM Narendra Modi.

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