New Delhi: Deepak Shodhan, the first Indian to score a Test century in the first innings of his debut match, passed away on Monday, aged 87, after battling lung cancer.

India’s oldest living Test cricketer, Shodhan was diagnosed with cancer in February this year. He breathed his last at his residence in Ahmedabad.

Shodhan earned his first Test cap at the age of 25 against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens in 1952. Not disappointing the faith shown in him, the attractive left-hand batsman, walked in to bat at number 8 with the team reeling at 179 for 6. When he walked off, he had a Test century to his name (110) and the team had a lead of 140 runs.

Despite the bright start, ‘Kaka’, as he was fondly referred to, played only two more Tests, on a tour of West Indies in 1953. He played the first Test and scored 45 and 11 in the two innings. He took ill for the next three and was recalled to play in the fifth. Despite the health issues, Shodhan put his hand up for the team and acted saviour.

Madhav Apte, the 83-year old former opening batsman who was part of that series, recollected Shodhan’s bravery. “He was down with flu and was admitted to the hospital and did not bat in the first innings. (In the second innings) We needed someone to waste time and delay the West Indies batting. Deepak managed to just do that and consumed enough time to help India draw that match.”

Shodhan, who also went by the name of Roshan Harshadlal Shodhan, played for Gujarat and Baroda in the Ranji Trophy and was a title-winner in 1957-58.

Datta Gaekwad, father of former India player and coach Anshuman Gaekwad, has now become India’s oldest living Test cricketer at 87 years and 202 days.

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