On this day: Sunil Gavaskar brings curtains down on Test career, Sri Lanks wins '96 World Cup

In his last Test innings, Sunil Gavaskar made 96 against arch-rival Pakistan at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore but it wasn't to be a fairy-tale ending.

Sunil Gavaskar steps out and drives down the ground   -  The Hindu Archives

The denouement to a distinguished Test career wasn't ideal, for it ended in defeat to an arch-rival under trying circumstances. Sunil Gavaskar - on his final day (March 17, 1987) as India's Test cricketer - waged a lone, and ultimately unsuccessful, battle as India required 221 runs for victory against Pakistan at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

A challenging fifth-day pitch was exacerbated by a bowling attack featuring Wasim Akram, Iqbal Qasim and Tauseef Ahmed, with Imran Khan not sending down a ball in India's second innings. Gavaskar made 96 as those around him fell cheaply. He would face 264 balls and spend close to five-and-a-half hours at the crease, keeping India in the hunt. There was to be no fairy-tale ending as he became the eighth wicket to fall with India still 41 runs short of the target.

Read: On this day in 1939: The last timeless Test

He finished his Test career with 10,122 runs and holds the indelible feat of being the first cricketer to scale Mount 10k in any format.

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Sunil Gavaskar would face 264 balls and spend close to five-and-a-half hours at the crease.   -  The Hindu Archives

 

Centenary Test

Hundred years on from playing the first-ever Test match, Australia and England faced off at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March 1977. Greg Chappell was Australia's captain, while celebrated cricketer-turned-commentator Tony Greig led England.

Both teams were dismissed cheaply in their first innings - Australia 138 and England 95 - making the Test a second-innings shootout. Thanks to an unbeaten century from Rodney Marsh, Australia piled on 419 for nine declared, setting England a target of 463. Derek Randall led England's pursuit of the target with 174. After being 300 for four, England lost its way after Randall's dismissal and was bowled out for 417.

Australia completed a 45-run victory, the same margin by which it had won the first-ever Test against the same opposition.

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Centenary Test | Australia completed a 45-run victory against England, the same margin by which it had won the first-ever Test against the same opposition.   -  Getty Images

 

Sri Lanka rules Lahore

It was also on March 17 that Arjuna Ranatunga-led Sri Lanka beat Mark Taylor-led Australia to win the 1996 World Cup at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Chasing 242 for victory, Sri Lanka was set back by the early dismissals of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana. With the Islander 23 for two, Aravinda de Silva joined Asanka Gurusinha and added 125 runs for the third wicket to steady the innings. Gurusinha was dismissed for a 99-ball 65, bringing captain Ranatunga to the middle.

With Aravinda playing the sheet-anchor and scoring runs at a fair clip, Ranatunga could bat freely. He collected his runs at more than a run-a-ball and the pair saw Sri Lanka through to victory with 22 balls to spare. Ranatunga hit the winning runs and finished unbeaten on 47, with Aravinda playing the defining innings of the final - an unbeaten 107.

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Arjuna Ranatunga-led Sri Lanka beat Mark Taylor-led Australia to win the 1996 World Cup   -  Getty Images

March 17 down the years

In 1985, former India all-rounder Dattu Phadkar, who played 31 Tests between 1947 and 1959, passed away.

In 1996, Mike Tyson beat Frank Bruno via a third round technical knockout to claim the heavyweight title, also ending Bruno's career.

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The Americans beat Canada 3-1 to win the gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics.   -  Getty Images

 

In 1998, with women's ice hockey debuting at the year's Winter Olympic Games, the USA women's ice hockey team beat Canada women's ice hockey team 3-1 in Nagano to win the gold medal.

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