He was the man who taught India to win cricket series on foreign soil, he was the man who showed what is aggressive batting, he was the captain who created histories for Indian cricket, and he was the man who introduced spinning tactics.

The former Indian cricket team captain Ajit Laxman Wadekar, who led India to maiden Test series win in England and West Indies, died at the age of 77, at the Jaslok Hospital in South Mumbai on Wednesday, after suffering a prolonged illness.

Though he only managed to play in just 37 Test matches he left an indelible mark on Indian cricket. His aggressive batting and incredible tactics using spinners led India to triumphs in England and West Indies in 1971. Wadekar also served as India’s manager in the 1990s when India was led by Mohammed Azharuddin. He was later selected as the chairman.

 

Ajit_Wadekar_batting

Wadekar made his first-class debut in 1958 before making his India debut in 1966. He played 37 Tests in which he scored 2,113 runs at an average of 31.07. His only century, a match-winning 143 at Wellington, came during India’s 1967-68 tour of New Zealand, where India won a series away from home for the very first time. He was also India’s first ODI captain, although he appeared in just two matches. Apart from his batting skills, Wadekar was also an excellent slip fielder.

Wadekar’s Tests and ODI record –

CountriesMatchesInningsRunsAverageHS100s50sStrike Rate
Overall37712,11331.07143114NA
Home153089431.929106NA
Away22411,21930.4714318NA
As Captain162974926.759004NA
England (1971)36204348501NA
WI (1971)5715121.575401NA
         
ODIs227336.5670181.11

ajit-wadekar-77

Milind Rege, who played for many years under Wadekar in the Ranji Trophy, said: “Wadekar was India’s greatest ever captain. He showed the Indian team and Indian cricket how to win a Test series overseas. That’s why he is the best skipper.”

Head coach Ravi Shastri said it was “a sad moment for Indian cricket”.

Wadekar was born in Bombay in 1941. His father wished him to study Mathematics so that he could become an engineer, but Wadekar preferred to play cricket. He was 77 and is survived by his wife Rekha, two sons and a daughter. His last rites will be performed on Friday.

He has received the Arjuna Award in 1967 and India’s fourth highest civilian honor, the Padmashri, in 1972. Sir Ajit Wadekar will always be remembered as one of the greatest legends of Indian Cricketing history.

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