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Mantri passes away

Calcutta: India’s oldest Test cricketer Madhav Mantri, maternal uncle of Sunil Gavaskar, died in Mumbai early on Friday morning. He was 92. He had been ailing for a while.

Mantri was a wicketkeeper-batsman, who played only four Test matches, one in India (1951), two in England (1952) and his last in Dhaka (1954-55 in the then East Pakistan), compiling 63 runs and accounting for 8 catches and a stumping.

His most impressive performance with the bat in Tests was a 75-run opening partnership with Pankaj Roy in the first Test in England on the disastrous 1952 tour, in which India lost all four games. Mantri had made 39.

Mantri was incidentally one of four batsmen dismissed for a duck by the fiery Fred Truman on the same tour, in the second innings of the Leeds Test, when the visitors were tottering at 0 for 4 before captain Vijay Hazare and all rounder Dattu Phadkar scored half centuries and took the score to 165 and forced England to bat again.

But he was a consistent performer in Ranji Trophy and a mentor for the likes of Polly Umrigar and Bapu Nadkarni.

In his first-class career spanning a quarter of a century, he scored 2,787 runs at a plus-50 average. His highest score was 200 for erstwhile Bombay against Maharashtra in the 1948-49 semi-finals. Mantri captained Bombay to three Ranji Trophy titles in the 1950s.