Indian cricket heroes yesterday paid tribute to Ajit Wadekar, who led the country to their first series triumphs in England and the West Indies, following his death at the age of 77 on Wednesday.
"He will always be remembered as the 'renaissance man' of Indian cricket," said Board of Control for Cricket in India chief executive Rahul Johri, after it was announced that Wadekar had died in hospital in Mumbai following a long illness.
The batsman led India to their famous victories in 1971 and overall scored 2,113 runs in just 37 Test matches, including one century. Wadekar was the first captain of India's one-day team and he went on to become a powerbroker as coach, manager and chairman of the Indian selectors and mentor to future stars.
Indian legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Azharuddin and Anil Kumble paid tribute to Wadekar.
"He was someone who was instrumental in bringing out the best in us during the 90s. We'll always be grateful for his advice and guidance," said Tendulkar.
Azharuddin said that Wadekar had been "iconic" and a "father figure for me .. May his soul rest in peace."
Kumble, who made his comeback to the Indian team in a 1992-93 tour of South Africa under Wadekar, said he "was more than a coach to the entire team -- a father figure and a shrewd tactician."