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IITAGH Hosts A Delightful Evening with Ajit Wadekar

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From Left : Pradeep Anand, Ajit Wadekar, Manohar Hiremagalore, Sundy Srinivas, Pratish Kanani

HOUSTON: Mr. Ajit Wadekar, former international cricketer who played for India between 1966 and 1974, was clearly on his game, as he spent an evening with more than 100 people, who gathered for dinner and an opportunity to listen to him speak, at an IIT Alumni of Greater Houston (IITAGH) hosted event at Madras Pavilion on September 9th.

India had played Cricket Test matches since 1932 and had not won a single Test Series overseas against cricket powerhouses such as England, Australia and West Indies, until 1971.  Mr. Wadekar was the Captain of that historic Indian Cricket Team, which won two Test series overseas – in West Indies and in England.

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Audience at the Ajit Wadekar talk.

The evening was kicked off by Pratish Kanani, the President of IITAGH, followed by Pradeep Anand who talked about growing up in Mumbai seeing Mr. Wadekar playing for neighborhood, city, state and then the national teams.  Pradeep recalled being impressed by the integrity of Mr. Wadekar who once walked off the field when the wicket keeper caught the ball, even though the umpire did not call him out.  Mr. Wadekar knew he had nicked the ball.  Pradeep also talked about the discipline Mr. Wadekar brought to the team and the turnaround he affected on the team.

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Ajit Wadekar

Mr. Wadekar shared his memories of the cricket greats in a casual, down-to-earth, and humorous manner that had the room in awe and laughing all at the same time.  He shared stories about how Gary Sobers visited his home to give him a new pair of shoes, and how his mother demanded that he wear those new shoes in the next match, where he got out for a “duck” (zero).  As Gary gave him a hard time for that no-score, he gave Gary a hard time for throwing him off his game with the new shoes.  He casually recalled Pradeep’s story differently, saying, “I had already scored over 100 runs so I figured I would head back in.”  He laughed and the audience laughed with him.  His shared real stories about the games he played, the colleagues he coached and played with, the team he turned around, the rivals he stood up to, and the games they all won together.

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Autographed Cricket Bat sold at the live auction

At the end of the evening speech and a Q&A session enthusiastically moderated by Sundy Srinivasan, a signed autographed bat was auctioned to raise funds for the All India Cricket Association for the Physically Challenged (AICAPC), an organization founded in 1982 by Mr. Wadekar.  That bat raised $2500 for AICAPC!

There are few people in this world who have achieved so much and yet approach life without any ego.  Mr. Wadekar is truly one of those individuals.  In closing he said, “Houston is known for its hospitals, but now I also know Houston for its hospitality. Thank you!”

The humble and humorous hero received a standing ovation.

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