Road to World Cup: Viswanath picks his best memory

Former India cricketer Gundappa Viswanath rated his 75 against West Indies and Gavaskar's snail-paced 36 off 174 balls as favourite memories from the big ticket event.

Former India cricketer Gundappa Viswanath being felicitated by MCC President K.Dhananjaya Das in Chennai on Friday.   -  M. Vedhan

In an age where any target is achievable in ODI cricket, it feels surreal to think of the times when batsmen would block deliveries to stay longer at the wicket.  

In the 2011 World Cup, Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien had smashed the fastest hundred in the history of the tournament. The 63-ball 113 helped the Irishmen chase down 328 to beat England.

But former India cricketer Gundappa Viswanath is still an old school cricket romantic. He rated Sunil Gavaskar’s 36 off 174 balls as his favourite World Cup memory. 

“It was Gavaskar’s 36 runs against England in 1975 [World Cup]. He himself told me how difficult it was,” said Viswanath, who was in Chennai to receive the honorary membership of the Madras Cricket Club on Friday.

Gavaskar batted for 60 overs as England defeated India in the opening match of the 1975 World Cup by 202 runs.

Viswanath also listed his innings of 75 runs off 134 balls in the 1979 World Cup, against a fearsome West Indies bowling unit, as his other favourite. “It was a dicey wicket, seaming all over with fast bowlers like [Michael] Holding and [Colin] Croft. It was the best one-day innings I have played. Of course we lost the game, but it was the best World Cup memory for me,” he added.

When asked about the most challenging bowler he has ever faced, Viswanath picked West Indies’ Andy Roberts as a complete bowler. “All around I think it was Andy. With the old ball, it was Dennis Lillee; conditions-wise it was Richard Hadlee,” the 70-year-old said.

A fine player of square-cut, Viswanath said he drew inspiration from Australian great Neil Harvey. “Well, my hero was Harvey. I have never seen him play, but I knew about it through my brother who used to write about it. He told me, that when he [Harvey] first came to India, he moved halfway across the pitch to hit Subhash Gupte through the covers.”