Gundappa Viswanath turns 75: A look at the Indian batting legend’s storied career

A master of the square-cut and playing the ball late, Viswanath was one of the most elegant Indian batters the game has seen

A vital cog of the Indian side during the 1970s, Viswanath played against a rampaging West Indies pace attack and averaged a whopping 53.88 against it in Tests

The signs of a promising career were on display during Viswanath’s debut against Australia in 1969 at Kanpur. After falling for a duck in the first innings, he smashed 137 in the second

A couple of years earlier, in 1967, an 18-year-old Viswanath had scored 230 on First-Class debut against Andhra for Mysore at Vijayawada

Interestingly, when has was 15, Viswanath was told he couldn’t be selected for the school team because he was too short

But he stood tall with his achievements over the course of his storied career, and often rose to the occasion when the chips were down

In the 1974-75 series against West Indies at home, Viswanath almost single-handedly helped an injury-ravaged India level the five-match Test series 2-2

His scores of 52, 139, 97* and 46 at Kolkata and Chennai were pivotal in India bouncing back in the series and salvaging some pride

Viswanath was conferred with several accolades for his achievements, including the prestigious Padma Shri Award in 1971. He was also bestowed the Arjuna Award in 1977-78

He retired from all forms of the game in 1988, after scoring almost 18,000 First-Class runs and 6080 Test runs

One of the finest on-field ambassadors of the game, Viswanath showcased the same dedication to the sport even after retirement

He served as the Chairman of the national selection committee and was known to watch each and every match assigned to him from the first ball to the last ball

In 2008, Viswanath was honoured with the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award by the BCCI