Former Ranji cricketer B.B. Nimbalkar passed away on Tuesday due to age-related ailments at his Nagala Park residence here. He was 93.
A right-handed batsman, he was often described as the “man who nearly beat Bradman” for his unbeaten 443 for Maharashtra against Kathiawar in a Ranji Trophy match at Pune in 1948-49. At that time his knock was second only to the Australian’s 452 not out in first-class cricket.
That innings still remains the fourth-highest individual score in first-class cricket. He was unable to break the record because, with the total at 826 for four at lunch, the other side conceded the match. Later, Bradman sent a personal note to Nimbalkar saying he considered the Indian’s innings better than his own.
Born on December 12, 1919, Nimbalkar played for various teams like Baroda, Holkar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Railways.
An aggregate of 3,687 runs at a healthy average of 56.72 with 11 centuries marked him out as one of the outstanding batsmen in the Ranji Trophy. Nimbalkar had 58 wickets in his domestic career which spanned from 1939-40 to 1964-65, and also kept wickets in some matches.
A prolific run-getter, Nimbalkar, in his 80-match first-class career, scored 4,577 runs at an average of 52.01 with 12 centuries.
Though, he never represented India in an official Test, he played for the country once — against the first Commonwealth team in 1949-50, scoring 48.
Acknowledged by many as a batsman cast in the mould of Vijay Hazare and Vijay Merchant, Nimbalkar had his early education at the Model School in Kolhapur, and captained the school team at the age of 15. He moved to Baroda to be with his brother, Raosaheb Nimbalkar, who shaped his first-class cricket career.
Nimbalkar made his Ranji Trophy debut in 1939 against Baroda. He achieved stardom playing for Holkar under C.K. Nayudu. He scored 178 against Bengal in 1942. Nimbalkar worked as a Security Officer with Northern Railway and also represented Railways in the Ranji Trophy.