India news May 16, 2016

Former India cricketer Deepak Shodhan dies aged 87

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Deepak Shodhan with his wife Gauri in their home in Ahmedabad © Siddharth Raja

Deepak Shodhan, the first Indian to make a Test century in his debut innings, has died aged 87. He was India's oldest living Test cricketer.

Shodhan passed away at his residence in Ahmedabad. He had been suffering from lung cancer, which was detected in February this year. The funeral was scheduled for 11 am on Monday.

An attractive left-hand batsman who bowled left-arm pace as well, Shodhan was given his first India cap at 25, against Pakistan at Eden Gardens in 1952, and made an immediate impact. He walked in at No. 8, with the score on 179 for 6 and no specialist batsmen left, and he walked out with 110 against his name. India claimed a lead of 140 runs, but the match ended in a draw.

"I was in the reserves for the series against Pakistan in 1952-53, the historic first Test series between our two newly independent nations," Shodhan had said in a recent interview. "In the final Test match, at Calcutta, I was drafted into the playing XI after our captain Vijay Hazare pulled out unwell. It was Lala Amarnath, who was captaining India in Vijay Hazare's absence, who asked for me to be brought in - 'that tall Gujarati boy who had done so well in the trials and other matches'."

Despite that bright start, Shodhan played only two more Tests, on a tour of West Indies in 1953. The team had journeyed to the Caribbean by a small boat, which kept tossing and turning. Everyone got sick at some point or other and Shodhan remembered being the last man standing. Having made 45 and 11 in the first Test at Port-of-Spain, he did not play the next three and was taken ill when he returned for the fifth one in Jamaica. That didn't stop him from walking out at No. 10, after West Indies had taken a 264-run lead, to try and salvage a draw.

Madhav Apte, the 83-year old former opening batsman who was part of that series, recollected Shodhan's bravery. "He was down with flu and was admitted to the hospital and did not bat in the first innings. [In the second innings] We needed someone to waste time and delay the West Indies batting. Deepak managed to just do that and consumed enough time to help India draw that match."

Shodhan had a long domestic career, playing for Gujarat and Baroda in the Ranji Trophy and was a title-winner in 1957-58. "I loved playing cricket. My first-class career stretched on to 1962, ten years after I played my last Test match," he had said in April. Shodhan had made his debut in 1946-47, in the same match that his older brother Jyotindra, currently 91 years old, had struck his first century.

Datta Gaekwad, father of former India allrounder and coach Anshuman Gaekwad, has become India's oldest living Test cricketer at 87 years and 202 days.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Venkatesh Venkatesh on May 17, 2016, 2:12 GMT

    May his soul rest in peace and heart felt condolences to bereaved family . Indians are proud of you for scoring century on test debut that too first Indian

  • Bish on May 16, 2016, 23:33 GMT

    Shodan was the first left handed centurion for India, but he was not the first to make a century on debut , that honor belonged to Lala Amarnath who did so during the 1st Test: India v England at Mumbai, Dec 15-18, 1933 .Deepak had few opportunities during the WI 1953 tour and was unlucky not to play again, RIP

  • cricfan24202540 on May 16, 2016, 17:57 GMT

    Sadly this is the first time i have heard of him. RIP sir.

  • ultra on May 16, 2016, 16:52 GMT

    RIP Deepak Shodhan

  • Giridhar on May 16, 2016, 14:04 GMT

    Thanks cricinfo for writing on unsung heroes of yesteryears, people who made india proud those times.

  • Ashok on May 16, 2016, 13:25 GMT

    Deepak Shodhan was like a bright star who left a blazing trail after being left out of the Indian team after just 3 Test appearances. I vaguely recall his brilliant 110 vs. Pakistan coming in at #8. It was a knock where he hooked the bumpers from Mahmood Hussain & Fazal with gusto. Cricketers die but their memories live ever fresh in the minds of their fans. Farewell Sir, may your "Deepak" shine even brighter in your death!

  • Madhusudhan on May 16, 2016, 12:22 GMT

    Great player to take part in 3 test matches for India.

  • Madhusudhan on May 16, 2016, 12:21 GMT

    RIP! Roshan Bhai. To score debut Test Century against Pakistan in Kolkata must have been the most thrilling experience. Don't know the intensity of Indo-Pak match then.

  • Sanjay on May 16, 2016, 11:12 GMT

    RIP Deepak Shodhan. You were #68, one of only 285 in a land of over a billion. On behalf of all Indian cricket lovers, our condolences to your loved ones.

  • D N on May 16, 2016, 9:56 GMT

    RIP Deepak Shodhan. You were only a name growing up. Thanks for the century on debut.

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