India's cricket fraternity mourned the demise of legendary first-class spinner Rajinder Goel, calling him a "master of his craft" whose "bradmanesque" record made him a stalwart in domestic cricket.
Goel died on Sunday owing to age-related illnesses. He was 77 and is survived by his wife and son Nitin Goel, who has also played first-class cricket and is a domestic match-referee.
Paying a glowing tribute to Goel, iconic batsman Sachin Tendulkar tweeted: "Saddened to hear about the passing away of Rajinder Goel ji! He was a stalwart of Indian Domestic Cricket picking up more than 600 wickets in the Ranji Trophy. May his soul Rest in Peace and my heartfelt condolences to his near and dear ones."
India head coach Ravi Shastri also saluted his craft in his message.
"RIP Rajinder Goel ji. Master of his craft. Killer line & length in our terrain. Humility personified. Condolences to the entire family," he wrote on his twitter page.
Goel, a left-arm spinner, had 750 first-class wickets from 157 games, representing Haryana and North Zone in domestic cricket. He played 26 seasons of first-class cricket from 1958-59 and 1984-85.
India skipper Virat Kohli also paid a tribute to the departed cricketer.
"We've lost a legend in Rajinder Goel Ji. Him being the highest wicket-taker in the history of Ranji Trophy, speaks volumes about the career he had. Wishing all the strength to his family and loved ones," Kohli tweeted.
Former India captain and current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly condoled his death, describing him a "giant" of domestic cricket, whose long career is a testimony of his craft.
"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," Ganguly said in a BCCI statement.
"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," he added.
Goel was unlucky to have played in the era of the legendary Bishan Singh Bedi as he could never play for India. He was picked for a Test match in Bengaluru during the 1974-75 series against the West Indies when Bedi was axed but Goel was the 12th man in that match.
Despite not playing for the country, Goel was never bitter about it and accepted his fate with grace.
Offering his tribute, Bedi said he envied Goel's sense of 'contentment'.
"Rajinder Goel was easily the most contented' human being I've known. I used to envy his sense of contentment' in my moments of turmoil..RIP Goely'..You bowled yur heart out to keep Ranji Trophy alive..!!," he tweeted.
Cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar said he is amazed by Goel's bowling record, calling it "bradmanesque".
"Have always been staggered by the records of Shivalkar & Rajinder Goel. Here's Goel's FC record for you - 157 matches, 750 wickets! 59 five wicket hauls & 18 times 10 wkts in a match. Avg -18.58. That's bradmanesque in bowling - 5 wkts every 2.6 matches. RIP Goel Sir," he tweeted.
India opener Shikhar Dhawan also took to twitter to express his condolences.
"Rest in peace Rajinder Goel Sir. My thoughts and prayers with the family. God bless your soul," Dhawan tweeted.
Former Indian batsman Laxman wrote: "Deeply saddened by the passing away of Rajinder Goel, the highest wicket-taker in the history of Ranji Trophy. My heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones."