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Wadekar relives the good old days

Former India captain Ajit Wadekar revealed how his close pal, the late Dilip Sardesai, made it to the Indian team on that historic tour of the West Indies in 1970-71, reports G Krishnan.

india Updated: Jul 12, 2007 03:50 IST
G Krishnan

Former India captain Ajit Wadekar revealed how his close pal, the late Dilip Sardesai, made it to the Indian team on that historic tour of the West Indies in 1970-71.

Talking about his long association with Sardesai, Wadekar said, “Everyone thought Dilip was my lucky mascot. I, as captain, did insist on having Dilip on that tour.”

Wadekar, credited with being the first Indian captain to win a series in the West Indies and England, recalled, “The then chairman of selectors Vijay Merchant made enquiries about how good I was as a captain before deciding to make me captain.

Wadekar added, “I had to tell Merchant that I wanted Sardesai in the side. I knew him so well that when I was made the captain for the first time, I wanted somebody to be by my side to me.

“Merchant told me that since I was the captain, the blame would come to me if the results went wrong. So, that was how I had Dilip in the team.”

Wadekar said that Sardesai’s 212 in the first innings of the first Test at Jamaica gave the team the confidence for the rest of the tour.

Wadekar also said that it was Sardesai’s idea to give wickets to lesser-known West Indies off-spinner Jack Noreiga so that India would not have to face Lance Gibbs on that tour. “We ended up giving Noreiga nine wickets but Sardesai struck a century in that Port-of-Spain Test, and we did not have to face Gibbs,” he said.

“More than those series wins, it was Dilip’s batting that turned my career. We won in the West Indies, went on to win in England and I was able to captain India for a couple more years,” Wadekar said.