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Mumbai stalwart Ajit Agarkar retires from all forms of cricket

Former India pacer Ajit Agarkar on Wednesday retired from all forms of cricket, bringing down curtains on a 16-year first class career during which he played in 26 Tests and 191 ODIs besides leading Mumbai to their 40th Ranji Trophy title last season.

Agarkar, who made his Team India debut in 1998, ended with 288 wickets in ODIs, making him the third highest wicket-taker for India in ODIs after Javagal Srinath(315) and Anil Kumble(337).

Agarkar broke Dennis Lillee's world record for the fastest 50 wickets in ODIs, achieving the feat in only 23 matches. He held the record from 1998 until 2009, when Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis achieved the feat from just 19 matches.

But he made the record book for another dubious reason — scoring seven consecutive ducks against Australia, which earned him the moniker ‘Bombay Duck.’

Ajit Agarkar
Ajit Agarkar helped Mumbai lift seven Ranji trophies. File Pic

"Ajit Agarkar has announced his retirement though I wanted him to continue. He said he did not want to block any youngster's place in the Mumbai team and wanted to announce it at the start of the season and allow someone else to settle down in the team," said MCA president Ravi Savant on Wednesday. 

"Agarkar is among the last of Mumbai players to have played for India consistently and also led Mumbai team to the national championship title last year. We appreciate his contribution," Savant added.

The 35-year-old Agarkar started his career as a capable batsman by scoring a triple hundred in junior cricket before shifting his focus to pace bowling.

Though wiry in structure, he had a very whippy action with which he generated bounce and pace.

He took 58 wickets from his 26 Tests at a costly 47-plus per wicket and 288 in ODIs at just over 27 per victim with 6 for 41 in Adelaide against Australia in Tests in 2003-04 and 6 for 42 in ODIs, also against Australia at Melbourne on the same tour, as his best.

His lone Test century (109 not out) in international cricket came at the hallowed Lord's cricket ground in London in 2002. He scored 571 runs in Tests between 1998 and 2006 and 1269 in ODIs from 1998 to 2007, which included the then fastest 50 in 21 balls against Zimbabwe.

He was a member of the Indian squad in the 1999 and 2007 World Cups held in England and West Indies respectively.

In all, he played 110 first class games. He also represented Delhi Daredevils in the IPL and played four T20 Internationals, three of those in the inaugural World Cup won by India in 2007. It was his last appearance for the country in international cricket. 

 Lauding Agarkar's eventful innings, BCCI President N Srinivasan said, "Ajit Agarkar served India with distinction for nearly a decade. On behalf of the BCCI, I congratulate him on a fine career, and wish him all the best for the future."

BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel said the Mumbai player gave many memorable performances with both bat and the ball. "Ajit Agarkar did his best with bat and ball, every time he set foot on a cricket field. He had a memorable 'first innings,' and hopefully his 'second innings' will be as eventful. Well played, Ajit!," said Patel.

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