5 records prove that Ajit Agarkar is an unsung hero of Indian cricket
Ajit Agarkar played 191 ODIs, 26 Tests and 4 T20Is for India. He was most successful in the 50-over format and is the third-highest wicket-taker (288) for India behind Anil Kumble (334) and Javgal Srinath (315). He was more than a handy batsman too and bailed the Men in Blue out of trouble on multiple occasions.
When you talk about pace bowling in India, the first two names come to mind are Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan. Srinath led Indian pace battery in the 90s and early 2000s. Zaheer took over when Srinath retired in 2003.
Interestingly, Agarkar has more ODI wickets than Zaheer despite playing three matches less than the Baroda pacer. Moreover, Agarkar has a better bowling average and a better strike-rate than both Zaheer and Srinath.
When you talk about all-rounders, after Kapil Dev we think about Irfan Pathan. Pathan has played 18 matches at No. 3 whereas Agarkar got the chance to bat at No. 3 twice. At one of those occasions, he made 95 off 101 balls including 11 boundaries and two sixes. His knock helped India post a total of 283 for 6 in 50 overs against the West Indies. However, India lost the match by 4 wickets.
Agarkar chipped in on numerous occasions with both bat and ball but never got the accolades he deserved.
Here are the five records that prove Ajit Agarkar is an unsung hero of Indian cricket.
Fastest ODI fifty for India
Over the years, India have produced a lot of attacking batsmen, from Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh to Suresh Raina. However, it is Agarkar who holds the record for the fastest fifty in ODIs for India.
Agarkar played one of the best cameos against Zimbabwe at Rajkot on December 14, 2000. The right-handed batsman walked out in the 44th over of the Indian innings when Hemang Badani departed at the score of 216/6. He smashed bowlers all over the park and reached his fifty in just 21 balls. Agarkar remained not out on 67 off 25 balls, that helped India post a decent total of 301/6 in 50 overs.
He was effective with the ball too as he bagged three wickets for 26 runs in 8.4 overs. For his all-around effort, he received the Man of the Match award.
Fastest 50 ODI wickets for India
Agarkar holds the Indian record for the fastest bowler to pick 50 ODI wickets. Jasprit Bumrah who reached 50 wickets against New Zealand at Kanpur on October 29, 2017, is the second fastest. Bumrah took 28 matches, while Mohammed Shami sits at the third spot by reaching the milestone in 29 games.
Agarkar picked up his 50th ODI wicket against Zimbabwe at Harare on 1 April 1998. He reached the milestone in 23 matches, a world record at that time. The Mumbai pacer held the record for more than 10 years before Ajanta Mendis broke it in 19 matches on 12 January 2009.
In terms of days, he still holds the world record as he reached the milestone in 182 days while Mendis took 277 days.
Fastest to score 1000 runs and take 200 wickets
Ajit Agarkar played the role of an all-rounder for India in the late 90s and early 2000s. He scored 1269 runs and took 288 wickets in ODIs.
He holds the record of becoming the fastest player to score 1000 runs and claim 200 wickets in ODIs. He achieved the feat in 133 matches, breaking the record set by South African legend Shaun Pollock, who took 138 matches.
The all-rounder set the record against Bangladesh at Dhaka on December 26, 2004. He accounted for 2 wickets, giving away just 31 runs and scored 9 (15) in that match.
Best strike-rate amongst bowlers with 150 or more wickets (India)
The Mumbaikar did not only pick a lot of wickets but also made sure he took them quickly. Agarkar had a strike-rate of 32.9 which is an Indian record (qualification: minimum 150 wickets). He is the only bowler who has a strike-rate under 35 amongst the top 5 wicket-takers of India.However, there are many bowlers from other countries who have a better strike-rate than Agarkar. Ajantha Mendis has picked 152 wickets at a strike-rate of 27.3 and tops the list. Amongst the current crop of Indian bowlers, Mohammed Shami has the best strike-rate, 27.7 and Jasprit Bumrah is not far behind with a success rate of 28.
However, there are many bowlers from other countries who have a better strike-rate than Agarkar. Ajantha Mendis has picked 152 wickets at a strike-rate of 27.3 and tops the list. Amongst the current crop of Indian bowlers, Mohammed Shami has the best strike-rate, 27.7 and Jasprit Bumrah is not far behind with a success rate of 28.
A Century at Lord’s
Ajit Agarkar has a batting record to his name that even Sachin Tendulkar doesn’t. He is one amongst the nine Indian players, who have scored a century at Lord’s, England. Others are Vinoo Mankad, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri, Gundappa Viswanath, Mohammed Azharuddin, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane.
India and England locked horns at the iconic stadium in July 2002 and England set the visitors a target of 568. Agarkar came to bat when India were struggling at 170/6. He built a 126-run partnership with VVS Laxman (74) before the latter departed at 296/7.
Agarkar was not willing to go down without a fight. With the help of tailenders, he added another 101 runs to India’s total. In the end, he ran out of partners and India were eventually all out for 397, handing England a win by 170 runs.
Agarkar remained unbeaten on 109 off 190 balls, including 16 fours. India lost the match but Agarkar won a million hearts.
Image Credit: Sportskeeda
Note: This post was originally published on Sportskeeda