Ramakant Achrekar, the celebrated cricket coach credited for discovering Sachin Tendulkar, died Wednesday.
He was 87 and, according to a family member, had been battling old age-related ailments for the past few days. His last rites will be performed on Thursday morning.
“He (Archrekar Sir) is no more with us. He passed away this evening,” his kin Rashmi Dalvi told PTI over phone.
Achrekar competed in just one first-class match in his playing career but discovered and shaped the biggest batsman in international cricket after Sir Donald Bradman in Tendulkar.
Tendulkar, who is now retired, owns almost all the batting records that were there for the taking in the game, including the highest runs in Tests (15,921) and ODIs (18,426).
Achrekar is best known for being his childhood coach and has always been acknowledged by the celebrated right-hander for the role he played in shaping his career as a child.
Tendulkar was coached by Achrekar at the Dadar’s iconic Shivaji Park here.
“Sir did not say well-played to me ever, (but) I knew (when) Sir has taken me to have bhelpuri or paani-puri, Sir is happy, I have done something nice on the field,” Tendulkar had said last year at an event while recalling Achrekar’s contribution in making him the cricketer he became.
A strict disciplinarian, Achrekar was livid during the then world record 664 run partnership in school cricket between Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli.
Tendulkar had time and again recalled how they had ignored Achrekar’s instructions to declare the innings and force a win against St Xavier’s Mumbai during the 1988 Harris Shield game.
“Cricket in heaven will be enriched with the presence of (Ramakant) Achrekar sir,” Tendulkar said in his tribute statement.
A former public sector bank employee, Achrekar was bestowed the Padmashri award in 2010.
Besides Tendulkar, he also coached some prominent players in Vinod Kambli, Pravin Amre, Sameer Dighe and Balwinder Singh Sandhu.