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Former India cricketer and Mumbai great Sudhir Naik passes, aged 78 CanIndia News

Former Mumbai great and India cricketer Sudhir Naik passed away at a City hospital here on Wednesday evening due to complications arising from a fall he suffered a few days back at his residence. He was 78.

Naik was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Hinduja Hospital here after suffering a fall at his home on March 24. He has been in the hospital since then.

A courageous right-hand opening batsman, Sudhir Naik played three Tests and two One-Day Internationals for India in 1974. But he served Mumbai cricket for a longer period, leading a depleted side to an unexpected Ranji Trophy title in 1970-71.

After retirement, Naik became quite a successful coach at his own National Cricket Club, shaping the careers of players like Zaheer Khan, Wasim Jaffer, Rajesh Pawar and Paras Mhambrey. For many years, Naik was the chief curator of the Wankhede Stadium and also had stints as a member of the MCA managing committee.

“The Mumbai Cricket Association is deeply saddened by the passing of Sudhir Naik. His legacy will forever be etched in the history of Mumbai cricket,” the MCA said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Born on February 21, 1945, Nair is one of those cricketers who could not have a lengthy career on the international stage despite excelling in the domestic circuit. He made his debut in the third Test of the 1974 tour of England at Edgbaston, scoring a gritty 77 in a losing cause in the second innings.

A few days before his debut, he was accused of shop-lifting two pairs of socks at a prominent store on Oxford Street and had to plead guilty under pressure from the Indian government and BCCI.

He played only two more Tests after that — the Eden Gardens Test against West Indies in 1974 being his last — as he was not picked afterwards, finishing with 141 runs from three matches at an average of 23.50. The 77 at Edgbaston against England was his only half-century in Tests and also the highest score.

Naik is credited with hitting the first four for India in a One-day International match in England as he scored 18 from 29 balls opening the innings with Sunil Gavaskar as India lost the match by four wickets.

In 139 innings of 85 first-class matches, Sudhir Naik scored 4376 runs at an average of 35.29, hitting seven centuries and 27 half-centuries. He had the highest score of 200 not out against Baroda in the 1973-74 Ranji Trophy.

He was the chief curator of the Wankhede Stadium since 2005 and prepared the pitch for the final of the 2011 World Cup at Wankhede which India won by beating Sri Lanka.

He was also West Zone In-charge of BCCI’s Ground and Pitch Committee for many years.


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