‘I tried to push myself for one-two seasons but it didn’t happen’

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SummaryAjit Agarkar says it would have been unfair on youngsters had he stretched his career for a few more years.

The big retirement is still a month away. But goodbyes are on the cards for the city sooner than the November farewell as another hard-nosed Mumbaikar — Ajit Agarkar, former India paceman and Ranji speed spearhead — decided to call it a day. He has cited exhaustion, because of which he couldn’t keep up with the rigours of the game.

The 35-year-old announced his retirement, and it effectively signalled the end of the last band of merry bowlers of Sachin Tendulkar vintage from the Mumbai team — with Sairaj Bahutule and Nilesh Kulkarni already retired, and Ramesh Powar moving to Rajasthan.

Agarkar can be said to have gone out on a high having clinched for Mumbai its 40th Ranji title as captain last year. The seamer, who will turn 36 in a couple of months, said it would have been unfair on youngsters had he stretched his career for a few more years. The western powerhouse’s arsenal still boasts of Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni and Abhishek Nayar, but Agarkar remained the finest of his era with his 110 first-class games yielding 299 wickets at an average of 30.69. One of his fiercest spells was in Mysore in 2009, when his aggressive fast bowling denied Karnataka the Ranji Trophy in 2009. He took five wickets in the second innings as Karnataka nearly chased the target of 331.

Agarkar was part of eight Ranji Trophy winning sides in his 16-year career, and when he wrapped up last year’s title, he would’ve fancied playing another few seasons. “Last year, we won the Ranji title for the 40th time and I thought I will carry on. It’s not a case of me not enjoying my game anymore. It’s more to do with how hard it is to follow the intense training session these days. The older you get, the more intense it gets.”

For his wiry frame, he’d managed to stay away from major injuries. “I was lucky not to deal with many injuries in my career. There would have been a few niggles but not a major fracture,” he said.

Though he’d served Mumbai cricket with distinction,

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