Former India Test captain Ajit Wadekar passes away aged 77
Ajit Wadekar played 37 Test matches in which he scored 2113 runs at an average of 31.07.

Ajit Wadekar, the former India captain and coach, has died at the age of 77. Wadekar had been suffering from a prolonged illness, it has been reported, and passed away at Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital.

Wadekar famously captained India to their maiden Test series wins in the West Indies and England, both in 1971 – achievements which ushered in a new era in Indian cricket and rightfully earned him his place in the pantheon of the country’s finest. Wadekar was also India’s first ODI captain in 1974 too, but played just two games.

An elegant left-hand batsman and excellent slip catcher, Wadekar played 37 Test matches in which he scored 2113 runs at an average of 31.07, with one century and 14 fifties.

Ajit Wadekar 1971
Ajit Wadekar led India to a maiden Test series win in England in 1971. @Getty

Wadekar made his Test debut in December 1966 against West Indies at the Brabourne Stadium, scoring 8 and 4. His first fifty came in his second Test, 67 against West Indies in Chennai. Scores of 91 and 57 followed in England in 1967, and his maiden Test century came in Wellington in 1968, after getting to within one run when he made 99 against Australia at the MCG. That 143 against New Zealand remained his sole Test hundred and came as India won overseas for the first time in 12 years. In that Test, which came after defeat in Christchurch, India’s spinners Erapalli Prasanna and Bapu Nadkarni shared 17 wickets in a low-scoring contest and Wadekar’s century proved clinical.

At the Feroz Shah Kotla in 1969, wit MAK Pataudi’s Indian team trailing 0-1 in the Third Test against Australia, Wadekar put the finishing touches on India’s chase of 181 with an unbeaten 91 and GR Vishwanath 44 not out.

In 1972-73, Wadekar led India to a 2-1 Test series victory at home over Tony Lewis’ England. He was also a successful captain of Mumbai in domestic cricket, leading them in 1968-69, 1969-70, 1971-72 and 1972-73.

After his retirement from cricket, which came after the infamous ‘Summer of 42’ in 1974, Wadekar served as India’s coach and manager and chairman of selectors for the BCCI.

In 2014, Wadekar received  the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award from the BCCI.