Ramakant Desai

20 Jun 1939
28 Apr 1998
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Ramakant Bhikaji Desai About this sound pronunciation (help·info) (20 June 1939, Bombay – 28 April 1998, Mumbai) represented India in Test cricket as a fast bowler.

Ramakant Desai was unusually fast for a bowler who stood less than 5 feet 6 inches. His size earned him the nickname ‘Tiny’. He made his Test debut against West Indies in 1958-59 took 4/169 in 49 overs. He troubled the batsmen with bouncers, which was unusual for an Indian bowler at the time.

He toured England in 1959, West Indies in 1961-62 and Australia and New Zealand in 1967-68. Against Pakistan in 1960-61, he took 21 wickets in the series. At Bombay, he scored a quick 85 batting at No.10, an Indian record, and added a record 149 for the ninth wicket with Nana Joshi. His best bowling performance in Tests was 6 for 56 against New Zealand at Bombay in 1964-65. At Dunedin in 1967-68 his jaw was fractured by a ball from Dick Motz, despite which he added 57 runs for the last wicket with Bishen Bedi.

In his first year in the Ranji Trophy, he took 50 wickets in 7 matches at an average of 11.10. It is still a record for Bombay. It included a performance of 5 for 10 and 6 for 28 against Saurashtra.In the Ranji Trophy final in 1960-61 he took 7 for 46 and 4 for 74 in Bombay’s victory over Rajasthan.Two years later, also against Rajasthan in the final, he scored his only first-class century, 107, in another victory.In his 11 years in the Bombay team (1958-59 to 1968-69), he never finished in a losing side.

As the only bowler of pace in the Indian team, he was perennially overworked. When Desai retired from regular first-class cricket after the 1968-69 season, when still only 29 years old, P.N. Sundaresan wrote that he “bowled his heart out on the dead pitches in India … A more judicious use of his talent both in the Ranji Trophy and other matches could have preserved him as a penetrating bowler for a longer period.”

Desai was the chairman of selectors from 1996-97. He resigned the post a month before his death. He died four days after being admitted in a hospital for a cardiac arrest.

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