Sachin Tendulkar paid rich tribute to former India captain and coach Ajit Wadekar who passed away on Wednesday. His mortal remains were taken to a crematorium from his residence in Mumbai. Tendulkar stated Wadekar’s passing was an “irreparable and personal loss” for him.” Wadekar had passed away at a South Mumbai hospital at the age of 77 after prolonged illness.

“This is an irreparable loss. I will say it is a personal loss. People know Wadekar sir as a great cricketer, but I was fortunate enough to see him as a great cricketer as well as a wonderful person. For me he was very important. Over the years our relationship grew stronger,” Tendulkar said while paying his last respects to the departed soul.

Wadekar’s body wrapped in the tricolour, his cricketing cap placed on top was kept at his Worli residence for people to pay their last respects before the cremation at Shivaji Park.

Tendulkar remembered Wadekar’s contribution in shaping up his career. “Wadekar sir has a big contribution in my life, especially at a critical stage. I was a 20-year-old youngster at that time and it was easy for me to go off the track,” he said. “At that time I needed the guidance of an experienced person, who himself had played and performed at that level. He understood how to bring the best out of the players. I was personally benefited by his presence in the team.”

According to Tendulkar, his bonding with Wadekar reflected on the field as well. “He wore multiple hats — a great captain, coach and more importantly as my friend. I could sit with him in the evening for hours and talk about anything. Our bonding reflected on the field also,” the batting great said. “He had the capability to segregate. Whenever there was discussions on cricket or during team meetings he was serious and focused. But when we used to sit for dinner, that time he used to take centre stage with his humour. He was liked by everyone,” added Tendulkar.

Also present at the residence was former wicketkeeper and now BCCI General Manager (Cricket Operations) Saba Karim. He said, “All players of my age have followed him. He was a brilliant left-handed batsman. This is a great loss for the entire cricketing fraternity.” Sameer Dighe, Vinod Kambli, ex-hockey captain MM Somaiya, past and present MCA officials also paid their tributes.

Wadekar’s body was taken to the Shivaji Park Gymkhana (SPG) in Dadar in Central Mumbai in an open truck. At the Gymkhana, former India cricketers Sandeep Patil, Nilesh Kulkarni, domestic cricket stalwart Padmakar Shivalkar and officials of the SPG also offered their last respects to departed soul. Jatin Paranjpe was also present at the Gymkahna, while his father Vasu Paranjpe was there at the crematorium.

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