Bishan Singh Bedi death: Former India captain and legendary spinner dies at 77

Indian cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi of the Indian cricket team during a tour of England on 29 April 1974

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India’s legendary spin bowler Bishan Singh Bedi who also served as the captain of his country’s cricket team has died at the age of 77.

Bedi had been battling a prolonged illness and had undergone surgery two weeks ago. He was admitted to a hospital in India’s national capital Delhi ever since. The former India captain is survived by his son, Bollywood actor Angad Bedi.

Widely known as one of the greatest spinners produced by India who played international cricket, Bedi made 67 Test appearances and also played 10 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) for the Indian team between 1967 and 1979.

Bedi, famous for his outstanding accuracy and spin bowling, picked up 266 wickets in Test cricket at an average of 28.71 with 14 five-wicket hauls. The left-arm spinner also claimed seven wickets in the 50-over format.

Out of the 266 Test wickets, Bedi bagged 106 of those as captain, having led the Indian team in 22 Tests.

One of the architects of India’s spin bowling revolution, Bedi was a part of Indian cricket’s golden quartet of spinners, the others being Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chadrasekhar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan, who shaped the core of India’s bowling unit for more than a decade between 1967 and 1978.

Amritsar-born Bedi was said to be a creative bowler – his style was defined as elegant, beautiful and crafty. He had refined many spin variations and was well known for his rhythm and control on the cricket pitch.

Bishan Singh Bedi in action on 2 August 1971

After news of his death on Monday emerged, India’s sports minister Anurag Thakur said it was a “huge loss for cricket”.

The cricketer was one of the most significant figures who had a role to play in India’s first-ever ODI win, in which he registered figures of 12-8-6-1 to restrict East Africa to 120 in a Cricket World Cup 1975 match.

Bedi represented Northamptonshire in English county cricket for two decades as well, while he played for Northern Punjab and then for Delhi in the Indian domestic circuit. The former spinner finished his career with 1,560 wickets in 370 First-Class matches – more than any other Indian player.

Delhi’s first two titles in the Ranji Trophy – India’s premier First-Class championship – came under Bedi’s captaincy in the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons. Delhi also finished as runners-up twice under his watch and all four finals came in a span of five years.

Bedi retired from all forms of cricket in 1980, which was when he last played in a First-Class game. In his post-retirement life, he did not completely cut away from cricket.

From working as a commentator or a pundit to serving as a national selector and as Team India’s manager, Bedi was closely associated with the game for quite some time.

Tributes have poured in on Bedi’s passing.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi condoled the death on X/Twitter.

“His passion for the sport was unwavering and his exemplary bowling performances led India to numerous memorable victories. He will continue to inspire future generations of cricketers. Condolences to his family and admirers,” he wrote.

“Sad to hear about the demise of the great Bishen Singh Bedi, apart from being a great cricketer, he was an affable person and went the extra mile to help young cricketers,” wrote current Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on X.

“Bishan Singh Bedi One of our best is no more. It’s a loss to our cricketing fraternity. My deep condolences to his family,” wrote former India pacer Irfan Pathan.

“Bishan Singh Bedi played for a long time and provided coaching to the team later. His demise is a big loss to the cricket world,” the sports minister, Mr Thakur told PTI.

India’s wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik called Bedi a “true ambassador of the sport”.

“Deeply saddened to hear about the loss of Bishan Singh Bedi Sir, a legend and a true ambassador of the sport,” he wrote.

“His contribution to Indian cricket will be remembered forever.”

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