Pahlan Ratanji Umrigar, popularly known as Polly Umrigar is one of the greatest cricketers to play for India. Polly was born on March 28, 1926, in Solapur, Maharashtra. He was the one who held most records in the early forties to late sixties till many were broken by Sunil Gavaskar.
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Polly Umrigar started his cricketing journey from Bombay in his high school days. He was a sports person and used to play hockey and football along with cricket. He made his debut in first-class cricket at St Xavier's College at 18 and later went on to captain the Bombay University team. Later he debuted for India in tests and played many matches for India but ended up on the losing side since the team was not that strong in earlier days. He was included in the national side after his performances in university games were recognized by the selection committee. His best innings according to him came in the early 1940s against England in the 4th test, where he scored 130 not out at 7th position when the team was at 30 for 5 and that was the first test match won by the Indian team. Then he saw his ups and downs in test cricket and was dropped from the national side, later to be picked in the Pakistan team. He was more successful as a batter against fast bowlers than spinners.
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Umrigar was also appointed as captain of the Indian Test Team in 1953 but later resigned due to some misunderstandings with selectors in 1959. But he served the national team, after resigning from captaincy and was in sublime form post that. He became the first Indian to score double hundred in tests, which was also unbeaten for 30 years when he scored 252 against Cambridge University in 1959. His total of 3631 runs and 12 centuries in test were unbroken records till they were broken by Sunil Gavaskar in the late seventies. He also led Bombay in the Ranji trophy for 3 trophies and also had a great domestic season in his era. Apart from batting he also was a good off-spinner who could open the bowling attack and threaten the batsmen. He is also one of the few cricketers to have scored a century and also took 5 wickets in a match. He was also a sharp fielder mainly fielding at slips and took many great catches.
Polly Umrigar was also active after retirement from Cricket. He led the National Selection Committee, served as executive secretary of BCCI, and also as pitch curator at Wankhede stadium. For his unmatchable contribution to cricket, he was awarded The Padma Shri award in 1962 and the C.K.Nayudu trophy in 1988. He died in November 2006 at the age of 80, after battling lymph cancer. To honor him, the Indian cricket board gives the Polly Umrigar award to the international cricketer of the year and the Polly Umrigar Trophy is awarded for the National U-15 championship.
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