Mankad: A talent unfulfilled due to selectorial whims

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Mumbai, Aug 1 (UNI) Ashok Mankad, one of the astute brains in Indian cricket, however, suffered as he never really enjoyed the confidence of the selectors, nor was he given a fixed place in the batting order.

The son of legendary Vinoo Mankad, played in only 22 Tests, spread over almost a decade and he batted from anywhere between No 1 and No 8, and quite often, he played in only one Test of a series.

This was a pity, for Mankad possessed a wide range of strokes and even though he could never measure up to the level of his great father Vinoo Mankad, he did have the talent and class to run up better scores than his overall career figures suggest.

He first came into prominence by scoring a half century as a teenager against the MCC for West Zone in 1963-64. A series of big scores over the years saw him get his break against New Zealand in 1969-70. He went in late in the order, and then because of circumstances was pushed to the opening slot. He was an instant success in his new role against Australia, negotiating McKenzie and Connolly with ease and running up successive scores of 74, 8, 64, 68 and 97.

He was also a member of the twin tours of West Indies and England in 1971 when India under Ajit Wadekar scored back to back Test series wins in both the tours, heralding a beginning of a new India, which knew how to win abroad.

He had a fair amount of success on the tour of West Indies in 1971, striking up a good combination with ''new boy'' Sunil Gavaskar, with whom he shared partnerships of 68, 74, 72 and 123 (unbroken). But he failed in England in 1971 and thereafter a question mark hung over his Test career.

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