On this day in 1933, Rameshchandra Gangaram Nadkarni was born in the city of Nashik. The man is famously known as ‘Bapu Nadkarni’. The senior statesman found his glory days in the 1960s while representing India at the highest stage in cricket. Bapu still holds the world record of bowling the most numbers of consecutive maiden overs in a single Test innings. He was known for his metronomic ability to land the ball at the same place repeatedly.
Coming from a family of sports background, Raju Nadkarni was good at two sports – cricket and badminton. At a deciding juncture of his life, he chose to persist with cricket by choosing to play in a Ranji Trophy match while ditching a badminton tournament final which was to be played on the same day. The decision was not Bapu’s own though as this was done at the behest of his guru – Professor D.B.Deodhar (The Deodhar Trophy is named after him).
The presence of Vinu Mankad, who was a left-arm spinner, kept Bapu away from entering into the national team for a while. Nadkarni finally earned his opportunity to play once Mankad’s age caught up with him. In his debut Test against New Zealand at Delhi, Bapu could not get a wicket in his 54 overs but he scored 68 runs batting at number seven.
The first real marathon maiden-bowling effort for Bapu came against Pakistan at Kanpur in the 1960 Test Series. After bowling 52.4 overs with 24 maidens, Bapu picked up four wickets for 84 runs at the Brabourne Stadium. He followed it up with 28 maidens in his 39 overs giving away only 29 runs with an economy of 0.74 at Green Park, Kanpur.
Such bowling figures were quite a norm for Bapu Nadkarni, here are a few more examples
|36||21||42||2||1.16||v New Zealand||Chennai||27-Feb-65|
|35||21||31||0||0.88||v New Zealand||Delhi||19-Mar-65|
|48.3||26||44||3||0.9||v New Zealand||Dunedin||15-Feb-68|
The feat against England at Madras in Chennai where he bowled 21 consecutive maiden overs is still a world record. He conceded a run on his 132nd ball (last ball of 22nd over) due to a misfield. Bapu Nadkarni was taken out of the bowling attack after that over. The commentator at that time, jokingly said that Bapu was removed from bowling attack because he was too expensive.
Bapu Nadkarni was an able batsman but he was not best used by the Indian team. Nadkarni scored a century and 7 half-centuries for India while boasting a first-class average of 40.36 in 191 matches mostly played for Maharashtra. His Test cricket economy rate is just 1.67 along with 88 wickets in 41 Tests.
Retiring in 1968, Bapu Nadkarni could not play in the limited overs cricket. Without a doubt, the miserly bowler would have been one of the top bowlers in the ODIs with his exceptional ability to pitch the ball at the identical spot tirelessly.