Salim Durani, one of the finest all-rounders that have played for India, passed away at his home here after a prolonged battle with cancer, on Sunday. He was 88, according to a family source.
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Durani had Pashtun origins and was known for his batting and bowling prowess that left the spectators thrilled.
“He will always be remembered for hitting sixes when spectators demanded. Hitting sixes during that period was rare,” remembered a family friend in Mumbai.
A slow left-arm orthodox bowler and left-handed batsman, Durani was the hero of India’s series victory against England in 1961-62, claiming 8 and 10 wickets in India’s wins in the Calcutta and Madras Tests, respectively.
He also played a key role in India’s maiden Test win against the West Indies in 1972, taking the wicket of key batters Clive Llyod and Gary Sobers. He is the first cricketer to receive the prestigious Arjuna Award and was awarded the C.K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award by the BCCI in 2011.
In 29 Tests, Durani scored 1202 runs at an average of 25.04 hitting one century and seven half-centuries. In his 50 innings, Durani scalped 74 victims at an average of 35.42, claiming 5 wickets in an innings on five occasions and 10 wickets in a match once. He had a best haul of 6/73 in an innings.
Durani played for Gujarat, Rajasthan and Saurashtra in domestic cricket and scored 8,545 runs at an average of 33.37 in 170 first-class matches. hitting 14 centuries and 45 fifties and had a top score of 137 not out.
Off 28,130 deliveries bowled in 170 matches, the left-arm spinner claimed 484 wickets at an average of 26.09, bagging 21 fifers and on two occasions, took 10 wickets in a match. He had a best bowing haul of 8-99 in an innings.
What added to his aura and popularity was the film-star-like good looks that got him a lot of attention from female fans. He appeared in the film Charitra with Parveen Babi in 1973.