Navjot Singh Sidhu is a great raconteur. His memory is sharp, too. Expect a detailed recollection of an anecdote from this entertainer.
The 1987 World Cup was special for Sidhu. It was also special for Sunil Gavaskar. The tournament saw Sidhu explode with his six-hitting shows. From a batsman not known to play with flamboyance, the World Cup gave him the platform to make a huge impression on the masses.
READ| The 1983 World Cup: A view from behind the stumps
Gavaskar was in his elements, too. It was his farewell to cricket. His only One-Day International century happened in his penultimate innings when he slammed 103 in 88 balls, playing some incredible shots. His straight drives, hoicks over midwicket, some stunning square cuts left the audience in a trance.
But Sidhu would regale us with this one anecdote to highlight Gavaskar's batting skills. For some reason, Gavaskar had cut down on his batting at the nets during the preparatory camp at the National Stadium in Delhi. “He had almost stopped batting at the nets and for us youngsters it appeared strange,” remembered Sidhu.
READ| 1975 World Cup final: West Indies’ triumph of character and skill
According to him, Gavaskar literally went into the inaugural match in Madras without proper practice. Australia batted first. When Gavaskar walked out to bat with K. Srikkanth, fans, and the ones in the Indian dressing room, were curious. How would Gavaskar fare?
The first ball that he faced, from Craig McDermott, demonstrated Gavaskar’s class. It was not a bad ball, but the master was in perfect position to meet the delivery with a straight bat. “It was a delightful straight drive,” Sidhu remembered. The shot was unforgettable.