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‘Miserly’ Bapu Nadkarni was gentleman to the core, recall stars | Cricket News


MUMBAI: Tributes flowed freely from the greats of Indian cricket upon hearing the ‘sad news’ of the passing away of former India all-rounder Rameshchandra Gangaram ‘Bapu’ Nadkarni. Known for his highly economical spells, Bapu passed away after a long illness at a hospital here on Friday.

He was 87. Bapu lived most of his life at his home in the famous Sportsfield building in Worli, he was living with his daughter and son-in-law for the last five years in Powai.

Nadkarni took 88 wickets in 41 [email protected] with his left-arm spin, besides scoring 1414 [email protected] with a hundred and seven fifties. Nadkarni was famous for having bowled 21 consecutive maiden overs (21.5 overs or 131 balls) in an innings against England on January 12, 1964 at the Nehru (Corporation) Stadium in Madras (now Chennai). His figures read 32-27-5-0.


Bapu Nadkarni bowls in a Test against Australia during the 1967 series. (Getty Images)

A breakdown of his four spells read: first spell: 3-3-0-0 (2nd day), second: 7-5-2-0 (3rd day), third: 19-18-1-0 (3rd day) and fourth: 3-1-2-0 (4th day). In the 1960-61 series against Pakistan, he returned with figures of 32-24-23-0 at Kanpur, followed by 34-24-24-1 at Delhi. His economy rate in 41 Tests was only 1.67 runs per over. Against Australia in the Bombay Test at the Brabourne Stadium in 1959, Nadkarni took 6 for 105 in 51 overs. It is said that he felt humiliated if a run was scored off him, and would keep bowling ball after ball on the same spot to test the batsmen’s patience.

He was also a brilliant fielder. Old-timers still recall a superb catch he took at leg-slip off Fazal Mahmood in the 1961 Delhi Test.

“He was one of the nicest persons you could meet. Learnt so much from him about not giving up. His favourite quote was ‘chhodo mat (don’t let go)’. Indian cricket has lost a real stalwart,” Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar told TOI on Friday. “Very sad. My first manager in New Zealand (in 1981). Gentlemen to the core,” said India coach Ravi Shastri.


“I played against him when he represented ACC, but he was quite old by then. I was just starting out, and I scored 150 for Tatas in that game. Later, I met him when he was the manager of the Indian team when I scored my first Test hundred at Kolkata against the West Indies. I was batting at 70-odd at lunch when he told me that he would gift me a watch if I scored a hundred. And he kept his promise! He was the chief selector when I was made the India captain in 1987,” recalled former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar.

“I grew up hearing about the record of him bowling 21 consecutive maiden overs in a Test ,” tweeted Sachin Tendulkar.

Nadkarni was the coach of the Indian team that toured Australia in 1981, which saw a major controversy with Sunil Gavaskar threatening a walkout in the Melbourne Test. He was the jt secretary of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) during the 1987 World Cup.

One gets an idea about his dedication to the game from a famous incident. In a match against Maharashtra at Nasik in 1974, the Bombay team was struck with many injuries. The crisis saw them playing one fielder short. All of a sudden, the crowd saw a 41-year-old Nadkarni, the manager of the team, enter the field in his whites. The Nasik crowd broke into applause, finding it hard to believe.

“In today’s scenario of limited overs cricket, he would’ve been a wonderful bowler. He was a very difficult bowler to hit. His deliveries used to skid off the wicket pretty quickly. He was impossible to negotiate on the back foot. If today’s lbw rule was to be applied, his tally would’ve been more than thrice of what it was.,” said noted coach Vilas Godbole.

“He was also a sound, utility batsman. We talk about how Jasu Patel took 14 wickets to help India win the Kanpur Test against Australia in 1959, but we forget that Nadkarni’s 72-run partnership with Ramnath Kenny (Kenny made 51 & Nadkarni 46 at No 8) for the seventh wicket made all the difference (India made 291 in their second innings and then bowled Australia out for 105 to win by 119 runs). It was a vital innings,” recalled Godbole.

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