Former Maharashtra stumper Hemant Kanitkar, who had a 15-year first class career but played in only two Tests as a batsman in the home series against Clive Lloyd's West Indies in 1974-75, passed away in Pune at his residence on Tuesday night.
The Amravati (Maharashtra)-born wicket-keeper batsman was 72 and is survived by his wife and two sons -- Hrishikesh, also a former India cricketer -- and Aditya, according to Maharashtra Cricket Association sources.
Kanitkar, a stocky hard-hitting wicket keeper batsman, whose first class career commenced in 1963, but coincided with those of other wicket-keeper batsmen like Farokh Engineer, Budhi Kunderan and Inderjit Sinh to deny him an early shot at an India berth, batted at no. 3 in the opening Test of the series against Lloyd's West Indians at Bangalore and made 65.
Subsequent scores of 18, 8 and 20 in his next three innings that included the second Test at Delhi, where too Engineer kept wickets, confined him to the list of forgotten men of Indian cricket as far as the national selectors were concerned.
But Kanitkar kept playing for Maharashtra till 1978. In his first class career spanning a decade and a half Kanitkar amassed 5,007 runs at an impressive average of 42.79 with 13 centuries and 87 dismissals.
Playing for Maharashtra in Ranji Trophy, he aggregated 3,632 runs at an average of 43.75, with a career-high score of 250 against Rajasthan in 1970-71.
Another Pune-based former India batting stalwart and ex-chief selector, Chandu Borde, expressed his sadness at the passing away of his former teammate.
"He played under me for Maharashtra. He was technically very sound," Borde said.
The BCCI condoled the demise of Hemant Kanitkar.
"On behalf of the BCCI, I would like to extend my condolences to his family, and pray that his soul rests in peace," said president Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Secretary Anurag Thakur said: "Hemant Kanitkar was a versatile cricketer. He was an outstanding batsman for Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy, for a decade-and-a-half. He was also an excellent wicketkeeper. His second innings, as Selector and Guide to youngsters, was equally noteworthy."
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