Former India cricket captain Ajit Wadekar who led India to its maiden Test series wins in West Indies and England passed away on Thursday after a prolonged illness at the Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai.
A legendary captain, who led India to a historic series wins over West Indies and England made his debut in 1966 against the West Indies and he went to represent the national teams in two ODIs and 37 Tests.
He scored 2,113 runs at an average of 31.07 in Tests which includes 14 half-centuries and a century.
A left-handed batsman, Wadekar was appointed skipper in January 1971 and his stint as a captain established a legacy which is still cherished.
When India toured England under his captaincy, the first two Tests ended in draws but in the third Test India successfully chased down 173 runs as BC Chandrashekhar returned match figures of 6 for 38 in the second innings before Wadekar scored 45 runs to hand over India its maiden triumph in England.
Wadekar had narrated in an interview, reminiscing about the time he took over from the Nawab. Wadekar had revealed that he wasn’t even sure if he would be picked for the West Indies tour in 1971 and said, “Please ensure I’m in the team,” to Pataudi.
Pataudi told him that he would not only make it to the Caribbean but lead the team. And before his team inked history in England, they recorded their maiden series win against Garry Sobers’ star-studded XI to put to rest the myth of them being bad travellers.
Wadekar was India’s first ODI captain and he served as the manager of the Indian cricket team post his retirement which was led by Mohammed Azharuddin in the 1990s. He also later became the chairman of the selection committee.
The tragic news of his demise has led to an outpour of emotions and tributes from the cricket fraternity. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kobind also paid a tribute to the former India captain.
His last rites will be performed on Friday, informed a family member.
“His condition was not well for some time and he was seeking treatment for the same,” read the statement from the Jaslok Hospital.