Ajit Laxman Wadekar, the aggressive left-handed captain and former Indian cricket captain, passed away at the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai on August 15 after suffering from prolonged illness. Because of his failing health, he was admitted in the hospital for several days. Some of the finest hours in Indian cricket happened when India secured its first overseas win over England back in 1971. It was Ajit Wadekar who captained the Indian cricket team in the match following which the Indian cricket triumphed overseas. Apart from winning this hard-fought series against England by 1-0, Wadekar also led India in a tightly contested series which was against West Indies in the same year. In this series also India triumphed by a margin of 1-0. Later, in 1972-1973, the Indian cricket team again defeated England by 2-1 in a five-match series. He became the only captain during 1970s to lead India to three successive series victories.
Wadekar, the unmatchable left-handed batsman, made his first class debut in 1958 and joined the Indian cricket team in 1966-1967. After taking little time to establish, Ajit left an unforgettable mark on Indian cricket in just 37 appearances. Representing India from 1966 to 1974, Wadekar made 2113 runs with 14 half-centuries and one century to his name. He made a century at Wellington in 1967 tour of New Zealand where he scored 143 runs. Wadekar retired from all forms of cricket in 1974 after India’s dismal performance in the series against England.
An excellent slip fielder, Wadekar made enormous contributions to Indian cricket. He was maiden ODI captain of India, and also an affable coach. Later, he served as Manager alongside Captain Azharuddin in the 1990s and also as chairman of selectors of Indian Cricket Team. Wadekar hailed from Mumbai which was a dominating cricket hub during that time. First, he was appointed as the captain of Bombay and soon was made the captain of Indian cricket team in 1971. Players like Bishan Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath comprised his team.
Awards and honours
The Indian Government bestowed the prestigious Arjuna Award to Ajit in 1967. Later, in 1972 he was also honoured with India’s fourth highest civilian honour Padma Shri. The BCCI has also honoured him with C K Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award in 2012. However, the contributions of this legendary man in cricket are unmatchable.