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Former India allrounder Bapu Nadkarni dies aged 86

Bapu Nadkarni bowling against Australia Getty Images

Bapu Nadkarni, the former India allrounder known for his extreme economy with the ball, has died aged 86.

Nadkarni, who made his India debut in December 1955, played 41 Test matches, scoring 1414 runs at an average of 25.70 and taking 88 wickets at 29.07. The statistic that defined him, though, was his economy rate of 1.67, the second-best in history among all bowlers with 50 or more Test wickets.

Nadkarni took four Test-match five-fors with his left-arm spin, including a match-winning 6 for 43 in Wellington, during India's historic tour of New Zealand in 1967-68, when they won their first-ever overseas series.

His most famous performance, however, included no wickets. At the Corporation Stadium in Chennai (then Madras) in January 1964, Nadkarni finished with figures of 32-27-5-0 in England's first innings, bowling 21 successive maidens (and 21.5 scoreless overs in a row) along the way. It remains the most economical spell of 60 or more balls in Test cricket.

The 21 successive maidens, meanwhile, were a record not just in Tests but in first-class matches too, eclipsing Horace Hazell's 17 successive maidens for Somerset against Gloucestershire in 1949. Hugh Tayfield, another famously economical spinner, had bowled 137 successive dot balls (as against Nadkarni's 131) against England in Durban in January 1957, but that Test match featured eight-ball overs.

Nadkarni was a reliable contributor with the bat as well, scoring seven fifties and one hundred, an unbeaten 122 from No. 3 against England in Kanpur. He averaged 40.36 with the bat in first-class cricket, with 14 centuries.