An era of Indian cricket came to an end when Deepak Shodhan breathed for the last time at his home on Monday morning. He was the oldest living test cricketer at the age of 87 in India.
Shodhan was one of the top class test cricketers in 1950s. He was battling from lung cancer and was not well from past few days.
The ferocious left handed batsman is remembered for his knock against Pakistan at Eden gardens in 1952-53 on number eight. The test match was drawn in the first ever series between the two teams.
Captain Vijay Hazare was replaced by the Amdavadi as he was not well. Unfortunately, India was 6 down for 179 when Shodhan walked in at the crease. The Pakistani bowlers Hussain Mahmood and Dattu Phadkar were not in a mood of mercy. Shodhan batted till the last wicket and guided the Indian team to 140 run lead.
Shodhan was the first Indian player to score century on debut in Test matches and this century was the part of first ever series between India and Pakistan after partition.
“Batting at number eight in front of crowd of Eden Gardens was really tough. With Fazal Mahmood breathing fire, he fought really well and demonstrated all his mental strength,” said Bhagirath Thakore, the close friend of Shodhan and former Gujrat pacer.
The twenty year old Shodhan was then picked for a tour against West Indies and played in the first test match scoring 45 & 11 in Port of Spain. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury and then played the fifth Test match at Kingston. He remained retired hurt in the first innings and scored 15 not out in second innings. It was the last innings of his Test Career.
Shodhan believed that he was out of the team due to politics. Shodhan has said in one of his interviews to DNA, “Vijay Hazare was the captain of team technically, but the decisions of Vinno Mankad were considered final. Mankad was always against the players from Gujrat in the team.”
Shodhan first class career was never interrupted. He scored 1802 runs in the 43 first class games he played with 7 fifties and 4 hundreds under his name. He even took 73 wickets.
According to Thakore, “Deepak was someone who always justified the gentlemen’s game.” He added, Though, Shodhan came from family of Mill owners, he never showed attitude to anyone. He made his point very clear in every game he played. He was a dignified person. He always tried to assist the players in their game. He was for the cricketers and was a true cricketer.”