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“Not all my teammates were happy for me. Let me be frank. They didn’t like a Gujju-bhai scoring a hundred,” Deepak Shodhan had lamented in an interview with The Hindu years after his retirement. He referred to an era when a handful of states dominated Indian cricket, and Gujarat was certainly not one of them. The hundred he was referring to was one on debut, against Pakistan at Eden Gardens in 1952-53. He was the second Indian to score a hundred on Test debut, after Lala Amarnath, India’s captain in the same Test. Shodhan was also the first Indian left-hander to score a Test hundred. It is probably worth a mention here that he batted at No. 8 in that innings.

Shodhan was, if we go by his contemporaries, an outstanding strokeplayer in an era when accumulation was the norm in Indian cricket. When they bowled with a cordon of close-in fielders, he would counterattack, sending the in-field back to the ropes.

Yet, after that 110 on debut, Shodhan played only two more Tests, on India’s tour of West Indies that same winter. He scored 45 and 11 in the first Test at Queen’s Park Oval and missed the next three Tests owing to an injury.

Shodhan came back for the fifth Test at Sabina Park, but went down with fever after the toss. He could not bat in the first innings, but walked out of sick-bed in the second, with India a mere 144 ahead with 2 wickets in hand. He remained unbeaten with 15 and made sure India batted long enough to take the target beyond the scope of West Indies.

Surprisingly, he was never picked again. His career lasted a mere 3 Tests, in which he scored 181 runs at 60.33. His average has been beaten by several players, but by the time their careers have ended, the numbers have dropped down, which makes one question BCCI’s inexplicable selection policies of the era.

Madhav Apte, a contemporary of Shodhan, was another victim: despite averaging 49 he got to play a mere 7 Tests. While Apte has subtly hinted in his autobiography that certain outside-the-field demands by Amarnath to Madhav’s father Bhausaheb (then owner of Kohinoor Mills) were responsible for his seemingly premature axing, Shodhan never came out with a reason.

But his batting partners on Test debut and BCCI were not the only ones who had mistreated Shodhan. Gujarat Cricket Association did not bother to send Shodhan car passes; as a result Shodhan stopped going to matches in Ahmedabad.

Exactly why Shodhan was treated this way remains a mystery that will perhaps never be solved, just like why he was called Deepak, despite his full name being Roshan Harshadlal Shodhan.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry and CricLife. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)