New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have expressed their condolences to former Indian Test captain Ajit Wadekar, who recently passed away in Mumbai after a prolonged illness.
Wadekar, who led the national team to their first-ever series victories in England and the West Indies, breathed his last at the age of 77 at the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai on Wednesday. Describing Wadekar as India’s finest left-handed batsman and captain, President Kovind wrote on Twitter, “Sad at the passing of Ajit Wadekar, one of Indian cricket’s finest left-handed batsman and captain during the iconic overseas test victories in 1971 in the Caribbean and England. Condolences to his family and to the cricket fraternity #PresidentKovind.” Prime Minister Modi, on the other hand, said that Wadekar would be remembered for his rich contribution to the Indian cricket.
“Ajit Wadekar will be remembered for his rich contribution to Indian cricket. A great batsman & wonderful captain, he led our team to some of the most memorable victories in our cricketing history. He was also respected as an effective cricket administrator. Pained by his demise,” he tweeted. Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu underlined that Wadekar’s batting and leadership would always be remembered. He wrote on the micro-blogging site, “Sad to know of passing away of Ajit Wadekar, India’s successful crcket captain,after a prolonged illness. He led India to 1st-ever series wins in WI,Eng.His batting,leadership will always fondly remembered.Share grief with all cricket. Condolences. Om Shanti Om.” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also took to his Twitter account and paid tribute to Wadekar, saying that the country has lost a great cricket player.
“Shocked to hear about the demise of Former Captain of the Indian Cricket Team Shri Ajit Wadekar! We lost a great cricket player, first Indian captain to achieve overseas wins, aggressive batsman and an all rounder. My deepest condolences to his family, friends and fans!” he tweeted. Meanwhile, the sports fraternity also came in unison to pay their tributes to the late 77-year-old cricket stalwart.
Left-handed batsman Suresh Raina said that he was pained to hear the news of Wadekar’s demise. He wrote, “Extremely saddened by the news that former Indian cricket captain Ajit Wadekar is no more. He led India to many historic victories! My condolences to the friends & family! RIP Sir, you will always be missed!” Renowned cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle described Wadekar as “much admired and much loved” by everyone. He tweeted, “So many memories of Ajit Wadekar. None more powerful than leading India to series wins in 1971 in England and the West Indies. Much admired, much loved. Page in Indian cricket and in our memories.” The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also paid rich tribute to India’s most decorated skipper.
“With a heavy heart, we bid adieu to Ajit Wadekar. The former India captain is no more. Cricketer, Coach, Manager and Chairman of Selectors – Mr Wadekar served Indian cricket in many different ways,” the BCCI wrote on Twitter. Former BCCI President Anurag Thakur hailed Wadekar’s aggressive batting style and said it had influenced many budding cricketers.
He wrote on the micro-blogging site, “Deeply saddened by the passing away of Ajit Wadekar; a successful captain who led India to its 1st-ever series win. His style of batting influenced many and I join cricket fans across India in grief.RIP” Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan also extended his condolences and tweeted, “Deeply saddened by the demise of an iconic Indian cricketer Ajit Wadekar ji. Thoughts with his family and close ones. May his soul rest in peace.” Wadekar, who was considered as India’s finest slip fielders and an aggressive left-hander, appeared in a total of 37 Tests and amassed 2,113 runs at an average of 31.07. He scored his sole century, an unbeaten 143 against New Zealand in 1968.
He also played two One-Day Internationals (ODIs) for India, with the highest score of 67 runs against England in 1974. Wadekar was also instrumental in leading the Indian side to famous Test series triumphs against England and West Indies in 1971. Born in Bombay, Wadekar made his first-class debut in 1958, while he played his first Test match against the West Indies in 1966. In 1967, the Government of India bestowed Wadekar with the Arjuna Award. He also received the Padma Shri Award, the country’s fourth highest civilian honour, in 1972. Wadekar also served as the manager of the Indian cricket team in the 1990s, along with the then captain of the national team, Mohammad Azharuddin.