When one speaks about the most successful captains of India, one would think of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Saurab Ganguly, Kapil Dev. All these people took India to a different level, making the team one of the most successful teams in the cricketing world. But there are few captains, who might not be the most successful ones, but we're the of the Indian team's first few success stories. If one has to speak about such captains, who made Indians taste success for the first time, the name of Ajit Wadekar has to appear at the top place.
But Wadekar's contribution to Indian cricket was not just limited to his captaincy. He was an excellent batter. He used to bat at the most prestigious number three position while batting for the team. Playing 37 tests for India, he scores 2113 runs which included 1 century and 14 half-centuries. He was an aggressive batter, who used to display his aggression with his bat, with a call head over his shoulder. In tests too, aggressive batting was his trademark. The same attitude had earlier yielded him greatly in domestic cricket where he had scored more than 15000 runs overall.
Apart from just being a wonderful captain and aggressive batter, he was one of the most amazing slip fielders to play during his generation. The close fielding unit of Eknath Solkar at forwarding short leg, Abid Ali and Wadekar in the slips was strong enough to dread the batter to defend the ball as the slightest of the margins would ensure the ball is caught by these. These men with their quick reflexes made the spin quartet of India consisting of Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrashekhar and Venkatraghavan successful and memorable.
Speaking of tests Wadekar and his contribution are known to everyone. He created history by winning the first series in England and West Indies. And in One Day International, his name was written in history books as the first ODI captain of the half-century Indian team, which now has played over a thousand ODI's which is most by any cricketing nation. In the historic first ODI for India in 1974 in Headingly, Wadekar also hit a half century, but it came as a losing cause for the team.
Post that match, very soon he announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. He played for a brief period for Men in Blue, but he made it sure that the team he led for the first time had enhanced its standards in international cricket by the time he retired. Also, he showcased to the world that India can win games in overseas tough conditions too.
A new generation of cricketers is stars. But the older generation of players were the ones who made the sky for these stars to shine The likes of Wadekar and all these older generations of cricketers were special because they played the game purely for their passion and love for the gentlemen's game, and not for the commercial aspect which is visible in today's game. Their passion led ThisIndia's roadmap to success in the cricketing world. Which is why, today, even after 48 years of Wadekar's retirement, he is still regarded as one of the finest gems of Indian cricket, who paved the way to India's glory.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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