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Dinkar Balwant Deodhar
Dinkar Balwant Deodhar

The Deodhar Trophy is played in honour of stalwart Dinkar Balwant Deodhar

The Deodhar Trophy limited overs cricket tournament will be held at Baroda from March 6 to 9. It will feature five zonal teams slugging it out in a limited overs format. The competition ranks high in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) scheme of things for domestic cricket.

Generation X may not know much about the man in whose honour this event is staged year after year. Professor Dinkar Balwant Deodhar is among the rare breed to have played cricket before the first and after the Second World War. That is testimony to his tenacity and endurance, which earned him the sobriquet of the Grand Old Man of Indian Cricket.

A major influence on Indian Test and domestic cricketers for many generations, he was an aggressive right-hand batsman and leg-break bowler. A professor at S.P. College in his native Pune, he played for the Hindus in the Bombay Triangular tournament against other famous teams such as the Parsees.

Although he never played for the country – considered too old at 40 when India played its first Test in 1932 – he had a long innings in first class cricket, which he played from 1911 to 1948. In between, he established Maharashtra as a first class team and led it in the Ranji Trophy from 1939 to 1941. A shrewd captain, he ensured his side (that had hitherto not won a single match, leave alone a tournament) won India's most prestigious domestic competition in both the seasons that he led it.

He was perhaps at his best two months short of his 49th birthday, cracking 246 against Vijay Merchant-led Bombay. He reported the Indian team's tours of England and Australia between 1946 and 48 for the Hindustan Times. Honours included the Padma Bhushan, naming of a road after him – the D.B. Deodhar Marg – close to the Poona Hindu Gymkhana and the issue of a postal stamp bearing his image.

He died at the age of 101 in 1993.

A. JOSEPH ANTONY

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