Ajit Agarkar: 15 things you must know about the former India fast bowler

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Ajit Agarkar, born on December 4, 1977, was one of India’s prominent fast bowlers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Hailing from Mumbai, Agarkar went on to play 26 Tests, 191 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and four T20 Internationals for India. While he was known for his bowling, he was also a decent batsman who notched a few records on the odd occasion. Nishad Pai Vaidya picks 15 things one must know about Ajit Agarkar.

 

1. Ramakant Achrekar protégé at Sharadashram

Walking in the footsteps of Pravin Amre, Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli, Agarkar was also coached by Ramakant Achrekar, the famous coach in Mumbai. He also attended Sharadashram school, which is well known for its cricket.

2. Triple ton in school cricket!

Agarkar started his junior cricket as a batsman. Speaking to CricketCountry, Agarkar had said, “In junior cricket in Mumbai, I started off as a batsman. I was luckily transformed into a bowler and it worked for me. To play for Mumbai, getting into the strong batting line-up, it would have been difficult.”

In school cricket, he had also made waves with the bat when he hit a triple-century on one occasion.

3. Plays for India under-17s

In 1994, Agarkar was picked to represent India under-17s against England under-17s. In that series, Agarkar had consistently batted at No 5. That England team featured Andrew Flintoff, Alex Tudor, Gareth Batty and Liam Botham. India were led by Shiv Sunder Das.

4. Slams a century for India under-19s

Agarkar was picked for India under-19s in 1997 and scored a century against Sri Lanka under-19s in one of the games. On the opposition side was Kumar Sangakkara. The Indian side also included Aakash Chopra.

5.ODI record for fastest 50 wickets

Having made his ODI debut in 1998, Agarkar raced to 50 wickets in only 23 matches. At the time, he was the quickest to reach the milestone. Subsequently, Ajantha Mendis broke that record in 2008 as he reached the mark  in only 19 matches.

6. Fifty on a forgettable Australian sojourn in 1999-2000

Agarkar had a forgettable tour Down Under in 1999-2000, where he notched five consecutive ducks in Test matches. His tough run continued into the ODI tri-series that followed. However, during a tour game before the Test series, he had scored an unbeaten 65 against New South Wales.

7. Seven consecutive ducks against Australia in Test cricket

As mentioned earlier, Agarkar had the ignominy of scoring five consecutive ducks in Test cricket during the tour to Australia in 1999-2000. While he recovered with an unbeaten 41 against South Africa soon on arrival at home, his poor run continued against the Aussies when they arrived in India in 2001. Picked for the first Test in Mumbai, Agarkar notched two more blobs to make it seven in a row against the Australians.

8. Fastest Indian to 50, 150, 200 and 250 ODI wickets

Agarkar has the distinction of being the fastest Indian to 50, 150, 200 and 250 ODI wickets. He got 50 wickets in 23 games, 150 in 97, 200 in 133 and 250 in 163. Later, Irfan Pathan beat him to become the fastest Indian to get to the 100 wicket milestone.

9. Fastest 50 for India in ODIs

Agarkar smashed a fifty off only 21 balls against Zimbabwe in an ODI in Rajkot in 2000. He had broken Kapil Dev’s record of 22 balls, which he achieved against West Indies in 1983. Interestingly, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh have recorded 22-ball fifties after Agarkar. Despite the Indian batsmen dominating the record books, Agarkar’s feat has stood the test of time.

10. Brother-in-law a former Mumbai cricketer

Agarkar is married to Fatima, sister of Mazhar Ghadially, a former Mumbai cricketer. Ghadially played one First-Class game for Mumbai in the early 1990s.

11. Century at Lord’s

Agarkar scored his only Test century at the home of cricket, Lord’s. India were facing a huge target against England in 2002, when he smashed an unbeaten 109. He had scored a ton on the hallowed turf nine years before Rahul Dravid managed it. Legends like Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman could not manage three figures at Lord’s while playing for India.

12. Playing for Middlesex

In 2004, Agarkar returned to the scene of his maiden Test ton. He represented Middlesex in County cricket that year. Against Gloucestershire, he took a fifer, during which he dismissed Michael Hussey.

13. Oldest member of India’s ICC World T20 2007 winning squad

Agarkar was a part of MS Dhoni’s young brigade during India’s victorious ICC World T20 2007 campaign in South Africa. In fact, Agarkar was the oldest member of the squad at the age of 29 — a reflection of  how young that team was.

14. Ranji Trophy delight

In 2010, Agarkar took five for 81 in a tense Ranji Trophy final against Karnataka in Mysore. Chasing 338 to win, Karnataka were riding on the Manish Pandey’s brilliant ton. However, Agarkar kept pegging them back with wickets and his fifer helped Mumbai win the Ranji Trophy final by only six runs.

15. Walkout and successful return as skipper

In late 2011, Agarkar was axed from the Mumbai eleven for a Ranji encounter against Orissa. Agarkar was miffed with the decision and left Cuttack for Mumbai. However, in February 2012, he returned to the Mumbai squad for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, that too as captain. He retained his captaincy ahead of the next season and led Mumbai to its 40th Ranji Trophy title. That was his final salvo in representative cricket.

 

Ajit Agarkar: Life and Times in pictures

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)