With India preparing for its third test with England on Saturday, the Indian cricket fraternity lost a legendary cricketer, Ajit Wadekar. Former Indian team captain, coach and selector Wadekar, who led the team to path-breaking Test wins in England and the West Indies, had passed away at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai at the age of 77, due to a prolonged illness.

An official statement released by the hospital said, “Mr. Ajit Wadekar was declared dead on arrival at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre. He had been unwell for some time and was seeking treatment for the same.” Wadekar is survived by his wife Rekha, two sons, and a daughter and his last rites will be will be performed on Friday.

The legendary cricketer was a trailblazer in Indian cricket despite a mere 37 Test appearances, leading India to triumphs in England and the West Indies in 1971. He was the only Indian captain and the first ODI captain to win 3 Test series in a row (2 away and 1 home) including those at England and West Indies.

The left-hander had scored 14 half centuries including four 90-plus scores and one century in his Test career scoring 2113 runs. However, he had stepped down as the captain and retired from international cricket in 1974 after his team lost two ODIs in England. In a tweet, former Indian captain and cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar said, “He was someone who was instrumental in bringing out the best in us during the 90s. We’ll always be grateful for his advice and guidance. Praying for strength for his family during this difficult time.”

The batsmen had also served as India’s manager during Mohammed Azharuddin’s captaincy and took India to the semi-finals at the 1996 World Cup. He later took on the responsibility as the chairman of selectors as well. Apart from Lala Amarnath and Chandu Borde, he is the only cricketer to have served as a captain, coach, and selector for the Indian cricket team. The Government of India had honoured him with the Arjuna Award (1967) and Padmashri (1972), India's fourth highest civilian honour. He was also awarded the CK Nayudu Lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Indian cricket.

Ajit Wadekar’s demise led to an outpour of emotions on Twitter. In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the former cricketer for contribution to Indian cricket. He wrote, "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.”

Tributes for the former cricketer also started pouring in from the cricketer fraternity, with former cricketer Virender Sehwag saying, “A rare Cricketer, Captain, Coach, Manager and Chairman of Selectors - a truly great servant of Indian Cricket. Heartfelt condolences to family and loved ones.”


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