There are unsung heroes and there is Eknath Solkar. The lanky Maharashtrian was born before his time, because with those astounding reflexes and that all-round ability, Solkar would have been a perfect fit in the ODI and Twenty20 era.
But in the 1970s, Solkar was often the heart and soul of some of India's key successes. Prowling at bat-pad or leg-slip without even a helmet, "Ekky" was the foil to the famous Indian spin quartet, picking up the most astonishing of catches offered by the hapless opposition batsmen. His 53 catches in 27 Tests remains a record – no other Test player with a minimum of ten Test matches has a better catches per Test ratio.
There were many great moments and one among them was in the famous Oval Test of 1971 – the scene of India's historic series-winning victory in England. India was trailing for large parts of the Test, having been bowled out for 284 in reply to England's 355 in the first innings. But England's collapse to 101 all out was spearheaded by the wily Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, ably helped by Solkar who picked up two stunning catches to dismiss Keith Fletcher and Alan Knott (video above).
Even earlier in the match, Solkar had displayed his catching prowess. Alan Knott, who had scored an aggressive 90 in England's first innings, was expertly caught by Solkar off his own bowling (from the 1.38 mark onward in the video below).
A left-arm bowler who could bowl both pace and spin, and a batsman who often scored useful runs, Solkar had other skills that never got the same acclaim. But there were occasions when he showed that, given the right conditions, he could get the ball to talk. His dismissal of Geoffrey Boycott in the 1974 Manchester Test was one such example (video below video from the 32.49 mark onward).