Sairaj Bahutule announced his retirement after 21 years at the first-class level. © AFP

Sairaj Bahutule, the former India legspinner, announced his retirement from first-class cricket on Tuesday (January 1) following the exit of Vidarbha, the team he captained and coached for the last two seasons, from the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season.

Bahutule, five days short of his 40th birthday, represented India in two Tests and eight One-Day Internationals between 1997 and 2001.

Bahutule made his Ranji Trophy debut for Mumbai in 1991 as an 18-year-old and quickly rose to be one of the pivotal members of the squad. He was a part of six victorious Ranji Trophy campaigns for Mumbai, the icing on the cake coming in 2003-04 when he led Mumbai to the title.

Bahutule, earlier this season, became only the ninth bowler in Ranji Trophy history to surpass the 400-wicket mark, a testament to his persistence and dedication. Apart from being a wicket-taker, he was also a very useful lower-order batsman, scoring nine hundreds and 26 fifties.

Bahutule, who played his last game for Mumbai in 2008-09, also played as a professional for Maharashtra, Assam, Andhra and Vidarbha during a 21-year first-class career.

Speaking after the drawn game against Delhi that signalled the end of Vidarbha’s Ranji Trophy campaign, Bahutule said the highlight of his career was playing for India and being a part of an illustrious Mumbai dressing room.

After retirement, Bahutule intended to be involved with Vidarbha as coach and guide the team moving into the domestic limited-overs tournaments.