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Former Test spinner Baloo Gupte dead

Last updated on: July 05, 2005 12:26 IST

Baloo Gupte, who died in Mumbai on Tuesday after a prolonged illness, was among those Indian cricketers who could have played more at the international level had they been born in a different era.

The younger Gupte played in the shadow of his more illustrious brother Subhash who is considered as the greatest exponent of orthodox leg spin bowling produced by the country.

Anil Kumble and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar belong to the small pack of unorthodox leg break exponents.

Gupte, who was born in Mumbai on August 30, 1934, is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

He made his Ranji Trophy debut for Mumbai in 1953-54, but had to wait till the 1960-61 season because of the presence of his brother Subhash and Chandu Borde as leg spin bowlers in the Indian team to make his Test debut.

He hardly made any ripples in his Test debut under Nari Contrator against Fazal Mehmood's Pakistan team at Chennai's Corporation Stadium and went wicketless while conceding over 100 runs in the two innings.

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Gupte, who died today morning in the ICU of a local hospital to which he had been admitted three days ago, had to wait till the 1963-64 season for his next Test appearance, in the fifth and final Test at Green Park, Kanpur, against Mike Smith's second string England outfit under Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.

In this match too he was largely unsuccessful, returning figures of 1 for 115 and was not able to bowl in the second English innings as India followed on and saved the match after having asked their rivals to take first strike after winning the toss.

He missed the series against Australia at home by which time Chandrasekhar had made his debut -- and got one more chance, his last, to make his mark at the Test level, against John Reid's New Zealand team at Kolkata in 1964-65.

Once again his figures were 1 for 54 and 1 for 64, giving him a total of 3 wickets in three Tests spread over five years, did not do justice to his potential.

He was a bigger spinner of the ball than Subhash, who passed away a few years ago in the West Indies, but did not have his elder brother's accuracy or concentration, according to old time cricketers of Mumbai.

But he played a stellar role for Mumbai in Ranji trophy, though he did turn out for Bengal and Railways, before returning to his home association for which he played till 1967-68.

Gupte claimed 255 wickets in 58 Ranji Trophy matches and represented Mumbai throughout barring a two-season stint for Bengal between 1957 and 59 and another one in the succeeding season from Railways.

In all he averaged 23.47 per wicket and captured 16 five wickets and 2 ten wicket hauls in the national cricket championship.

He also played for West Zone in the Duleep trophy in 1961-62 and 1965-66, bagging 38 wickets at 17.50 each with best innings figures of 9 for 55.

Gupte played in four Irani cup ties and captured 19 wickets at 23.21 per wicket, including innings and match hauls of 8 for 48 and 11 for 74.

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