Vasant Raiji, a right-handed batsman, played nine first-class matches in the 1940s, scoring 277 runs with 68 being his highest score
India’s oldest first-class cricketer Vasant Raiji passed away at his residence in Mumbai in the wee hours of Saturday, reported news agency PTI. Raiji was 100 years old and is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Raiji’s son-in-law confirmed that former cricketer died to old-age. “He (Raiji) passed away at 2.20 am in his sleep at his residence in Walkeshwar in South Mumbai due to old-age,” his son-in-law Sudarshan Nanavati told PTI.
Raiji, who was chartered accountant to start with, could not ignore his love for cricket. The right-handed batsman, played nine first-class matches for Mumbai and Baroda in the 1940s, scoring 277 runs with 68 being his highest score in his decade-long career.
Interestingly, Raiji’s debut was neither for Mumbai nor for Baroda. He played his first game for a Cricket Club of India team that locked horns with Central Provinces and Berar in Nagpur in 1939. Raiji could not make his debut a memorable one as he was dismissed for a duck in the first-innings and was out for 1 in the second.
His Mumbai debut happened in 1941 when the team played Western India under the leadership of Vijay Merchant. Raiji, also a cricket historian and chartered accountant, was 13 when India played its first Test match at the Bombay Gymkhana in South Mumbai.
Cricket icons Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and former Australian skipper Steve Waugh had paid a courtesy visit to Raiji at his residence in January when he had turned 100. Sachin had even shared the video of Raiji’s birthday celebrations on Twitter.
It has been learnt that the cremation will take place at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai on Saturday afternoon.