Ashok Mankad: Feared cricketer in domestic circuit (Obituary)August 1st, 2008 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) Former India Test cricketer Ashok Mankad, 61, had been a feared first-class cricketer, but with a modest Test record. He played only 22 Tests between 1969 and 1978, scoring 991 runs, and a solitary One-Day International. Like all sons of famous sportspersons, Ashok had to endure comparison with his father, one of India’s greatest all-rounders Vinoo Mankad.
His wife Nirupama Mankad, nee Vasant, is a former Asian tennis champion and his sons Harsh and Mihir are tennis players, Harsh a Davis Cupper. His brothers Rahul and Atul also played first-class cricket.
Ashok never enjoyed a sustained run as a Test batsman. Worse, he never had a fixed batting slot as he was shunted up and down the order, from number one to eight. He seldom found a place in the eleven in two consecutive Tests except in the series against Australia in 1969-70.
Ashok was considered to have a shrewd cricketing mind with a punter’s instincts. He captained Bombay with distinction. If only he could cement his place in the Test side, he would have been considered for India captaincy.
After he started knocking at the Test team door scoring a 50 against the MCC in 1963-64, Ashok had to wait for five more seasons to get a break against New Zealand in 1969-70. His success with the bat, scoring four 50s with 97 as the highest, took him to the West Indies where the Indian team created history by winning the series for the first time in the Caribbean in 1970-71.
A right hand batsman, Ashok may not have run up big scores in the series, but he struck an excellent opening partnership with Sunil Gavaskar who had a sensational debut tour. He, however, could not get going on the subsequent tour to England the same year though the team under Ajit Wadekar won their second successive series, beating England in their own backyard for the first time.
Thereafter he played a Test each in the next three years against England at home, West Indies, and played in the series against New Zealand in 1975-77. He went out again and finally played in one Test against England the same year.
He did well in the series in Australia in 1977-78 under Bishan Bedi’s captaincy when the Indians played a weakened home team, badly hit by Kerry Packer’s rebel World Series Cricket. He had a good tour overall, scoring 508 and averaging 50, but he was played only in Melbourne and Sydney Tests which India won. He scored 44 and 38 at the MCG and 16 in the only innings at the SCG.
Ashok had an outstanding first-class career. In the Ranji Trophy, he scored 6,619 runs at a staggering average of 76.08 with 22 hundreds, 265 against Delhi in the 1980-81 final being the highest.
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