Salim Durani, the debonair India cricketer of the 1960s with movie star looks, a puckish sense of humour, and penchant for hitting monstrous sixes on demand, passed away on Sunday. He was 88.
His death was confirmed by sources close to the family.
He lived with his younger brother, Jahangir Durani, in Jamnagar, Gujarat.
Durani had undergone proximal femoral nail surgery after breaking his thigh bone in a fall in January.
The Kabul-born Durani, who packed a punch with his bat and was also a handy left-arm orthodox bowler, played 29 Tests and was instrumental in India defeating England 2-0 in the historic five-Test series in 1961-62, picking up eight and 10 wickets in the team’s victories at Calcutta and Madras.
Known for his fine dressing style and swagger, Durani scored just one century though he had seven fifties in the 50 innings he played for the country, scoring 1,202 runs.
A decade after the epic triumph against England, he played a key role in helping India to victory against the West Indies in Port of Spain, dismissing both Clive Lloyd and Sir Garfield Sobers.
He also dabbled in Bollywood, starring opposite renowned actor Parveen Babi in the movie Charitra in 1973.
Durani made his Test debut against Australia at the beginning of 1960 at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium, and played his last international match — then only restricted to the traditional, five-day format — against England in February 1973.
The venue was again the place where he started his international career.
The stylish cricketer aggregated 8,545 runs at 33.37 in first-class cricket and hit 14 hundreds.
A joy to watch when in full flow, Durani had the ability to demolish any bowling attack on his day, though it was as a bowler he first made his mark for the Indian team.
India’s first Arjuna Award winner in cricket, Durani was a tall man and could get the ball to lift and turn on any surface with a bit of help.
A fascinating character, the cricketer shared a special relation with the crowd, who once expressed their ire after he was dropped from the team for a match in Kanpur, and carried banners and placards that read ‘No Durani, no test!’.
In domestic circuit, he represented Gujarat, Rajasthan and Saurashtra during a career that spanned two decades-and-a-half.
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