Ajit Agarkar has rarely hit headlines in newspapers or news channels and whenever he has hit headlines it has always been for the wrong reasons. The people who matter i.e. the print and electronic media and numerous websites on the Internet have a unanimous opinion about Agarkar that he is inconsistent.  That is true of Agarkar in Test Matches but if you have a look at his stats in one day internationals it tells a different story.

Ajit Agarkar made his debut for India in one day international on 1st April 1998 and played his last match for India on 5th September 2007.  During this period in which he was always in and out of the team especially after Md. Azharuddin lost his captaincy, Ajit Agarkar played 191 one day international and picked up 288 wickets for India.  He is the third highest wicket taker for India in one day internationals behind Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath.  Ajit Agarkar stands 13th in all time list of wicket takers in one day history.  The fact that he is the thirteenth highest wicket taker in the history of one day internationals speaks a lot for his consistency.

Bowling Records of Ajit Agarkar: Ajit Agarkar was the fastest to reach 50 wickets in one day internationals, a record now broken by Ajantha Mendis of Srilanka.  Ajit Agarkar is the fifth fastest to reach 200 wickets in one day internationals.  Being the fifth fastest to reach 200 wickets in one day internationals speaks a lot for consistency over a longer period of time for somebody who has been branded as inconsistent.

Strike Rate of Agarkar:- Ajit Agarkar's 200 wickets for India have come at a strike rate of 32.90 balls per wicket.  This is one of the best ever in the history of one day internationals.  Among bowlers who have played for a longer period of time only Brett Lee, Shoaib Akthar, Waqar Youinis and Allan Donald have a better strike rate than Agarkar.  The strike rates of some great bowlers  who have played in Ajit Agarkars era, bowlers who have prior to his era and who came after him  are given below:

29.20 Brett Lee

30.40 Shoaib Akthar

30.50 Waqar Youinis

31.40 Allan Donald

32.90 Ajit Agarkar

34.00 Mc Grath

34.80 Dennis Lillee

35.10 Muthiah Muralidharan

36.20 Wasim Akram

36.30 Shane Warne

36.50 Joel Garner

36.70 Mc Dermott

37.80 Javagal Srinath

38.20 Lance Klusener

38.50 Michael Holding

39.10 Richard Hadlee

39.40 Chaminda Vaas

39.90 Shaun Pollock

40.90 Imran Khan

41.50 Curtly Amborse

43.00 Anil Kumble

43.20 Ian Bothan

44.20 Kapil Dev

45.70 Malcolm Marshall

If you look at the above data, Ajit Agarkar has a better strike than legneds like Wasim Akram and Muthiah Muralidharan.   Ajit Agarkar even fares better than the legendary fearsome pace quartet of Malcom Marshall and company who were household names even in those names who did know anything about the game.  Another key point in Ajit Agarkars favour is that he has the disadvantage of playing on unhelpful Indian pitches and conditions and yet he has overcome them to have a strike rate better than bowlers who bowl in helpful conditions.

Ajit Agarkars bowling average of 27.85 is the second best by an Indian, marginally behind Kapil Devs 27.45.  His average is much better than Anil Kumble and Srinath who were rated much higher.  Agarkar has a better average than the ones preferred ahead of him in current Indian team like Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra.  The bowling averages of reputed Indian bowlers are given below.

27.45 Kapil Dev

27.85 Ajit Agarkar

28.08 Javagal Srinath

28.87 Manoj Prabhakhar

29.18 Zaheer Khan

29.33 Ashis Nehra

29.91 Irfan Pathan

30.89 Anil Kumble

32.30 Venkatesh Prasad

Genuine Fast Bowlers:- Prior to Ajit Agarkar India had only Chetan Sharma and Javagal Srinath who were called fast bowlers.  Ajit Agarkar was one of rare Indian bowlers who used to touch 140 plus speeds on regular basis. He usually bowls in the region of 133 to 142 consistently.  While many international bowlers bowl in the region of 140, they do so for a couple of years lose their pace and bowl in the 120 plus region for the rest of their careers the classic examples being Shaun Pollock and Chaminda Vaas.  There are many medium pacers in India like Irfan Pathan and Praveen Kumar who are called as fast bowlers, but actually they are medium pacers.  Ajit Agarkar is a genuine fast bowler in whom India can take pride for fast bowlers were a scarcity in India.

Batting Record:- Ajit Agarkars holds the Indian record for the fasted fifty by an Indian in one day internationals.  Even though he is a small man he hits huge sixes some of which go out of the ground.  Ajit Agarkar has one of the best strike rates as a batsman as he gets his runs low down in the order at a very fast pace.  Ajit Agarkar has to his credit a couple of triple centuries and junior level cricket.

Ajit Agarkars world record as n All Rounder:- Ajit Agarkar holds the world record for the fastest to reach 200 wickets and score 1000 runs in one dayers.  He achieved the milesone in 133 matches, beating the legendary Shaun Pollock who took 138 matches to achieve the milestone. Agarkar has always been blamed for his inconsistent batting.  If Agarkar was really inconsistent then he could not have achieved the world record.

Ajit Agarkar is a excellent fielder in the deep.  He is a very good catcher in the deep and has a very good throwing arm.  Not many batsman take a chance with Ajit Agarkars arm.

If Ajit Agarkar with all the above mentioned credentials is unfit to play for India, a country known for it s weak bowling, then no other bowler is fit to play for India. The fact that Ajit Agarkar still craves to play for India speaks a lot about his commitment and loyalty towards the team. Any other player would have joined a country like England where players of other countries are always welcome as England cricket lacks international talent. Let us hope selectors and team management give Ajit Agarkar his due and take him back in the interest of Indian Cricket.





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