Mumbai: Former left-arm spinner Rajinder Goel, who is the highest-wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy, passed away on Sunday night (June 21) due to prolonged illeness. He was 77, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said.

“BCCI mourns the death of Shri Rajinder Goel, a left-arm spinner par excellence, who breathed his last on Sunday,” BCCI said in a media advisory.

Exclusive: Syed Kirmani on Kapil Dev's epic 175*

In a career spanning 27 years, he picked up 750 first-class wickets with an average of 18.58. He played first-class cricket till the age of 44 and represented Patiala, Delhi, Southern Punjab and Haryana. The veteran spinner bagged 59 five-wicket hauls and 18 ten-wicket hauls. With 637 Ranji Trophy wickets, Goel despite playing his last game in the 1984-85 season, remains the leading wicket-taker of India’s premier domestic first-class competition.

Exclusive: 'Steve Bucknor was not against Indians'

Despite his achievements, he was not picked for the Indian team as, at the time, the country was blessed with spin riches. With Bishan Singh Bedi playing for India, Goel was unfortunate to miss out. According to many, he was born in a wrong era.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said, “The Indian cricketing community has lost a giant of domestic cricket today. His staggering record tells you about his craft and the control he had over it. To have a career that lasts more than 25 years and still be able to perform consistently speaks about his dedication and commitment towards the game. To be able to pick 750 wickets needs years and years of hard work and I salute his efforts. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family.”

Jay Shah, secretary, BCCI, said, “Rajinder Goel Ji was a true servant of Indian Cricket. He was a role model for many current and upcoming spinners. His longevity should inspire upcoming cricketers to excel and improve every time they take the field. BCCI honoured him with Col. CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. I extend my condolences to his family in this hour of grief.”

“Rajinder Goel Ji was a stalwart. He continued to be associated with the game even post his retirement and often turned up to watch young kids play and always extended his guidance. He is the highest wicket-taker in the history of Ranji Trophy. My heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones,” BCCI treasurer Arun Singh Dhumal said.

Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar and several present and former cricketers took to their social media accounts to pay their tributes to Goel.