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Former India captain Wadekar passes away

Mumbai: Former India cricket captain Ajit Wadekar passed away here on Wednesday after a prolonged illness. He was 77.

Wadekar, who played 37 Tests, led India to historic triumphs in the West Indies and England in the 1970s.

Under him, India won five matches in the West Indies in the early 1970s before beating England in a three-match series.

Wadekar, who scored 2,113 Test runs with 14 half centuries and a century, led India to a third successive series victory, beating England once again in 1972-73. He also appeared in two One-day Internationals. An aggressive left-handed batsman, Wadekar made his first class debut in 1958-59 before making his India debut in 1966-67.

After his retirement, he also served as the Manager of the national team led by Mohammed Azharuddin in the 1990s.

Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee tweeted: "Saddened at the passing away of former Indian Test captain and cricketer Ajit Wadekar. He will be remembered for his fine leadership on overseas tours. We have lost one of the all-time champions of sport in India. My condolences to his family and his admirers."

Shocked over the demise of Ajit Wadekar, spin great Erapalli Prasanna on Thursday said his former teammate was one of the most elegant left handers he had played with. "I am utterly shocked. I heard it in the morning and I still don't know the reason. Ajit was the one of the most elegant left-handers I played with and under," Prasanna said. Wadekar was an excellent catcher in the slips and famously led India to historic series wins in the West Indies and England in 1971.

In later years, Wadekar served as India's first ever official head coach, taking over in 1992.

Wadekar took over the reins from Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi during the 1970-71 West Indies tour thanks to the casting vote of Vijay Merchant, the chairman of selectors.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Thursday condoled the demise of former India captain Ajit Wadekar, who led India to their first-ever Test series wins in the West Indies and England in 1971.

While it was his leadership that stood out on the twin tours and also at home the next year in 1972-73 where India again beat England, Wadekar had made an impact earlier with the bat resulting in another breakthrough overseas series win.

Remembering Wadekar, BCCI Acting Honourable Secretary Amitabh Choudhary said in a statement: "His demise has left a big void. First as a batsman and then as captain, he took Indian Cricket to new heights and then continued to contribute as a coach, manager, and chairman of selectors."

The statement added: "The experience he gained during his playing days was used in man-management as coach and manager, overseeing a highly successful period." Also, the government of India honoured Wadekar with the Arjuna Award in 1967 and Padma Shri in 1972 while the BCCI had conferred him with the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award in 2011. The Indian cricket team on Thursday observed a two-minute silence in his remembrance.

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