In moden cricket where number of wickets against a bowlers name indicate his ranking, there was a time of Bapu Nadkarni in the 1960s. Rameshchandra Gangaram "Bapu" Nadkarni, the unassuming quiet left-arm orthodox spinner from India created a world record on 12th January 1964, when he bowled 21.5 consecutive overs in a Test match against England, without conceding a single run...not even an extra (32-27-5-0). This was the pre-World Cup era. Nadkarni broke the record set by Horace Hazell's record of 17 consecutive maiden overs. Both these records were for 6 ball overs. The record of maximum consecutive balls bowled is held by Hugh Tayfield of South Africa, who bowled 137 consecutive balls without conceding a run against England in 1956-57, but at that time, the Cricket Over was an 8 ball affair. So Hugh actually has a record of bowling 17 consecutive Maiden Overs, while Nadkarni has a record of 21 consecutive Maiden Overs.
Nadkarni was well known for bowling with immaculate line and length, and his economy rate, of 1.67 in Tests is still one of the best in the world. In the said match at Madras (now Chennai) against England on 12 January 1964, he returned with world record figures of 32 overs, 27 maidens, 5 runs and no wicket. His tight line and length, a result of his endless experimentations and net sessions, were the reasons why batsmen could not score of him, making him the most economical bowler in the world, a record that stands unbroken even after 60 years. This was the final game of the series, where Nadkarni also scored his maiden Test century (122*). He had scored 52* in the first innings of the same Test. These were not the only exceptional bowling performances. In the lead up to this record breaking feat against England in 1964, the 1961 series against Pakistan was also notable for Bapu's performances, where he bowled 24 Maiden overs in Kanpur and Delhi each.
This was followed by a series against Australia, this time also in Madras (now Chennai), where Nadkarni finished with his best bowling spell, taking 5 wickets for 31 runs in the first innings and 6 wickets for 91 runs in the second innings. After Bishen Singh Bedi came into reckoning, Bapu was dropped from the team for the England tour in 1967. He was however again picked up for the New Zealand tour soon after, where he finished with his career best 6/43 at the game in Wellington, which India won. Immediately after this game, Nadkarni bid adieu to the world of Test Cricket.
Nadkarni played in all 41 Tests for India in which he scored 1,414 runs across 67 innings averaging 25.71 and bowled 9.023 balls, conceding 2,559 runs at an unbroken world record economy rate of 1.67. His First Class rally included 192 First Class games, in which he scored 8880 First Class runs averaging 40.36 and took 500 First Class Wickets, averaging 21.37.
Bapu Nadkarni played his debut as well as his last Test Match against New Zealand, in 1955 and 1968 respectively.