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Birthday Boy Ajit Wadekar

On 1st April 1941, one of the most successful Indian captains was born. Ajit Wadekar, born on this day, was a left-handed batsman who led India in the first series wins in West Indies and England around the 1970s.

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Last updated: 01.04.2019
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On 1st April 1941, one of the most successful Indian captains was born. Ajit Wadekar, born on this day, was a useful left-handed batsman who led India in the first series wins in West Indies and England around 1970-71 season. Not only a successful captain but Wadekar also formed a great relationship as an Indian team coach with then-captain Mohammad Azharuddin. The due executed the three spinner formula at home perfectly and developed a near-unbeatable team during the early ’90s.


Wadekar started to play for Mumbai in Ranji Trophy from the 1958-59 season and was part of a very successful Mumbai side which achieved unbelievable success in India’s premier domestic tournament. His good showing for Mumbai got him an ‘Arjuna award’ even before appearing for India. He made his debut for the national team in 1966 against West Indies and after a slow start in the first test scored an important 67 to establish him.

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In Image: Ajit Wadekar

Wadekar’s greatest tour as a batsman came next year in New Zealand. Wadekar scored 328 runs in the tour, highest among the Indians and his 143 in Wellington test was a brilliant inning and resulted in an Indian test win.

 

In test matches, Wadekar scored 2,113 runs with one century and 14 half-centuries. Among left-handers, only Sourav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir have passed this total but Wadekar’s batting heroics were overshadowed by his captaincy success.

 

In 1970-71, Wadekar led his team to their first test series win in West Indies over Garry Sobers’ strong West Indies side. Dilip Sardesai was the hero of the tour along with a new opener from Mumbai. Sunil Gavaskar made his debut in the second test of the series and ended with 774 runs in four test matches in his debut series. The West Indies tour was followed by a tour to England and India completed their first test series win in England by winning their first test in that country when they won the third test in the Oval with some key strategic decision by Wadekar. The good form continued for some time and India proved themselves as one of the strongest test teams during that period.



By 1974, that success story was gone when the Indian team started another tour of England. There were various rifts among the team members and morale was low. India ended up losing all the three test matches of the series which was infamously called ‘the summer of 42’ as India were all out for just 42 runs in the second innings of the second test in Lords. India returned home to face the wrath of angry supporters and board members who dropped Wadekar from the team resulting in him announcing his retirement from all first-class cricket.



He was a great tactician and took Indian cricket to greater heights. As a coach, he masterminded India’s 3-0 whitewash of England in 1993. An act of sweet revenge? He designed the ‘three spinners at home’ formula and executed them successfully with Anil Kumble, Venkatapati Raju, and Rajesh Chauhan. Due to ill health, he stepped down in 1995-96 and later also served as the chairman of the national selection committee.


Video: Ajit Wadekar | The overseas crusader


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