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Mumbai, June 13, 2020
India's oldest first-class cricketer Vasant Raiji died in the wee hours of Saturday. He was 100.
When India played its maiden Test on home soil, Raiji, as a 13-year-old kid, witnessed the historic match at the Bombay Gymkhana in 1932. He later made his first-class debut for Cricket Club of India against Central Provinces and Berar in Nagpur in 1939.
Raiji made his Bombay (now Mumbai) debut in 1941 and opened the innings under the captaincy of Vijay Merchant. The match ended in a draw with Bombay securing a first-innings lead. Later in his career, Raiji also played for Baroda.
Raiji,a right-handed batsman, played nine first-class matches in the 1940s and scored a total 277 runs. He opened the batting for Bombay and Baroda in the Ranji Trophy, and was a reserve for the Hindus team in the 1941 Bombay Pentangular. His two highest scores came in Baroda's victory over Maharashtra in 1944-45, when he made 68 and 53.
Raiji had turned to writing following his cricketing career. He was also a chartered accountant by profession.
Following the death of B. K. Garudachar in February 2016, Raiji became India's oldest first-class cricketer.
He had celebrated his 100th birthday on January 26 this year which was attended by Steve Waugh and Sachin Tendulkar at his residence.
"Wishing you a very special 100th birthday, Shri Vasant Raiji. Steve & I had a wonderful time listening to some amazing cricket stories about the past. Thank you for passing on a treasure trove of memories about our beloved sport," Tendulkar had tweeted.
On March 7 this year, Raiji became the oldest living first-class cricketer in the world following the death of John Manners.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) expressed grief over the demise of Raiji.
"After his retirement, he joined his family business, but passion for cricket kept him associated with the sport. He was a founding member of the Jolly Cricket Club in Mumbai and wrote books on Ranjitsinhji, Duleepsinhji, Victor Trumper, CK Nayudu and LP Jai. He also loved collecting books and memorabilia," a statement from BCCI said.