Former India all-rounder Bapu Nadkarni, who played 41 Tests between 1955 and 1968, passed away on Friday. He was 86-years-old. Nadkarni, who represented Mumbai and Maharashtra in domestic cricket, breathed his last at his daughter's residence here.
In his 41 Tests, Nadkarni claimed 88 wickets with a best of six for 63 against New Zealand at Wellington in 1968. He averaged 25.70 with the bat hitting seven half-centuries and one century—122 not out against England at Kanpur in February 1964—and scored 1,414 runs in 67 innings.
In the times of T20 proliferation, statisticians and fans together wonder how valuable Nadkarni would have been in the present age with his measly bowling spells, as famously in the 1964 Test between India and England at Chennai (formerly Madras), Nadkarni bowled a mind-boggling 21 maidens on the trot in his spell of 32-27-5-0.
But perhaps the first display of his capabilities to keep batsmen tied up came at Kanpur against Pakistan in December 1960-61, when he gave away a mere 23 runs from 32 overs, sending down a staggering 24 maiden overs as the visitors clambered to 335 in as many as 188.5 overs. Even in the second innings of the Test—wherein India used as many as nine bowling options—his figures were 7-4-6-0.
His career bowling economy rate of 1.67 in Test cricket was similar to his figures in First-Class cricket of 1.64. Known for working persistently on his bowling, Nadkarni is also said to use to have placed a coin on good length during his long nets sessions.
Nadkarni made his Test debut when Vinoo Mankad rested himself for the New Delhi Test against New Zealand. Nadkarni made an unbeaten 68 on debut, but had to wait for three more years to play his next Test—against West Indies in Mumbai in November 1958.
His best outing with the bat came in the drawn Test against England during the 1963-64 tour at Kanpur, wherein Nadkarni scored a fighting 52 at No 9 as India replied with 266 to the visitors' 559 for eight declared. Batting at No 3 in the next innings as India followed-on, Nadkarni scored his career-best 122 not out hitting 15 fours to help the hosts force a draw.
In his next match, Nadkarni registered his best bowling performance in a match taking five for 31 and six for 91, but India' s batting failure in the second innings resulted in a 139-run loss at Chennai in October 1964.
In domestic circuit, Nadkarni was an all-round champion. In 191 First-Class matches, he claimed 500 wickets with 19 five-wicket hauls and one 10-wicket match haul. He averaged more than 40 with the bat, hitting 14 centuries and 46 half-centuries to garner 8,880 runs.