One of the greatest opening batters of all-time, legendary former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar turned 74 on Monday.
Born on July 10, 1949, and fondly known as ‘Sunny G’, Gavaskar dictated the cricket pitch and dominated fast bowlers with his unbreachable defence and near-perfect technique.
The batting great represented India with distinction, having played 125 Tests and scoring 10,122 runs with an unbeaten 236 as his highest. The master batter scored 34 Test centuries and 45 half-centuries. In 108 ODIs, Gavaskar made 3,092 runs with an unbeaten 103 as his highest. Of course, he has a Test and an ODI scalp!
The batting genius represented Mumbai in a whooping 348 First-Class matches, amassing 25,834 runs with 81 centuries, 105 half-centuries and a triple-century in his glittering career.
* The 1970-71 season was a landmark moment in Indian cricketing history as legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar announced his arrival on the cricketing landscape in a grand style. Against the then-mighty West Indies, the showstopper with the bat, a 21-year-old Gavaskar basked in glory with his immaculate batting technique and registered a double century in the fifth Test.
In the five-match Test series against West Indies in 1971, Gavaskar stamped his authority by amassing 774 runs with the highlight of the series being his 124 and a brilliant 220 in the final Test.
The legendary former India captain remained unbeaten thrice with scores of 67, 64 and 117 in the second, third and fourth Tests. It was an era when the champion batter made headlines with his batting brilliance against the then-world champion, which was led by Sir Garry Sobers.
* Port of Spain witnessed history as India rode on Gavaskar’s brilliant century to record a Test win against West Indies in 1976.
The Ajit Wadekar-led side beat West Indies by six wickets to script a memorable victory. Chasing a massive total of 403 runs, Gavaskar set the tone and laid the foundation with a brilliant 102 as another legendary batter, Gundappa Viswanath, notched a century to help India win.
* The master of chases: This time, in what is considered as one of the greatest knocks by Gavaskar, England was sent on a leather hunt at The Oval in 1979. The stylish India opener hammered a brilliant 221 but sadly India had to settle for a draw.
Chasing a massive target of 438 runs to win, Gavaskar was in his element with a scintillating double century but found little support as only Chetan Chauhan and Dilip Vengsarkar held their ground with patient half-centuries. The fall of Gavaskar meant India lost wickets in a cluster and salvaged a draw.
* Well, by now every Indian was a Gavaskar fan and the unbeaten 236 - his highest Test score against West Indies in Chennai - is still fresh in the memory of cricket fans.
It was Gavaskar’s 30th Test century and walking in at No. 4, he smashed a wonderful unbeaten 236 off 425 balls with 23 boundaries. The India legend didn’t hit a single six in his 644-minute stay at the crease.
The knock remains as one of the greatest in terms of disciplined batting and playing to the merit of the ball against an attack that comprised the Marshalls, Holdings and Roberts. Top knock!
* The 34 Test hundreds that Gavaskar scored along with a lone ODI century have got their place reserved in the records of cricketing history.
But the fighting knock against Pakistan in his final Test match defines his greatness. On a Chinnaswamy turner where Maninder Singh recorded figures of seven 27, Gavaskar, in the second innings, put on a batting display with an assured 96 off 264 balls.
The greatness of the knock was the mere fact that the next highest run-getter was Mohammad Azharuddin with a 75-ball 26 as the rest collapsed with India losing the Test narrowly by 16 runs.
Gavaskar’s 320-minute stay at the crease laid the foundation of a batting manual - the art of playing spin.
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