Full name Ramakant Bhikaji Desai
Born June 20, 1939, Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra
Died April 27, 1998, Mumbai, Maharashtra (aged 58 years 311 days)
Major teams India, Mumbai
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm fast-medium
|Test debut||India v West Indies at Delhi, Feb 6-11, 1959 scorecard|
|Last Test||New Zealand v India at Dunedin, Feb 15-20, 1968 scorecard|
|First-class span||1958/59 - 1975/76|
|List A span||1975/76 - 1975/76|
Ramakant Bhikaji "Tiny" Desai, died in a Mumbai hospital on April 27, 1998, aged 58, while awaiting heart surgery. Tiny Desai was only 5ft 4in tall but, from a supple run-up, generated sufficient pace to sustain the Indian attack in the 1960s, when it desperately needed sustenance, and usually got it only from spin bowlers. He was drafted into the side as a 19-year-old for the Delhi Test in 1958-59, and had to bowl 49 overs in West Indies' only innings, taking four for 169; he promptly took over the leadership of the attack for the 1959 tour of England. At Lord's he had England in deep trouble at 80 for six, and finished with five for 89 in the innings. Wisden praised his rare ability, endless courage, and his out-swinger, though the team was hopelessly overmatched, and he was over-bowled. That was often the way: he was on the winning side in only four of his 28 Tests. But he played a crucial role in blunting the threat of Hanif Mohammad in the 1960-61 series against Pakistan. Hanif had some trouble against Desai's deceptive bouncer, and was dismissed by him four times in nine innings: the Indians joked that he was Ramakant's bakra- the Hindi equivalent of rabbit. With the older ball, Desai was especially effective. His finest hour arguably came in that series, at the Brabourne Stadium in the opening Test, when he scored 85, batting No. 10; his ninth-wicket stand of 149 with P. G. Joshi remains an Indian Test record. He also scored a crucial 32 not out at Dunedin in 1967-68, continuing to bat after his jaw was broken. India won, but he never played Test cricket again. In 53 Ranji matches for Bombay, he took 239 wickets at 15.61, and he retired completely in 1969, aged only 30. Desai returned to the front line in 1996 when he was appointed chairman of selectors, and he was responsible for the appointment - and the dismissal - of Sachin Tendulkar as captain. It was not a happy term of office, and his natural sense of loyalty and reticence, combined with increasing ill-health, made it difficult for him both in committee and in his dealings with the media. He resigned the month before he died.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
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