For a sport mad enthusiast, the late 1960’s and early 1970’s was a disaster. Indian sports were nowhere. 1968 Olympics had been dismal. The one bright spot was that our cricket team had finally won an away test – albeit against lowly New Zealand in 1969. Most of us were unaware that India was going on a tour of West Indies. And those of us who did know of the intended series were expecting another 5-0 result. The 1st surprise came when Vijay Merchant used his casting vote to appoint Ajit Wadekar captain causing Pataudi Jr. to pull out of the tour.
The team was on expected lines. Durani, Sardesai, Jaishima, Jayantilal, Venkataraghavan, Abid Ali forming the nucleus and there were also a few youngsters, Vishwanath who had debuted against the Australians the year before and a kid named Sunil Gavaskar. He had excelled for the University team.
At that time, there was only a sporadic radio commentary available to follow the series. And what with the matches ending well beyond 3 am, the failure of the radio signal and the papers reporting action a day late, we were unaware of history being made at Port of Spain.
A young hero – soon to become a cult, was born. He joined hands with Dilip Sardesai to give India a victory. Scoring 774 runs in 4 tests, winning against the likes of Sobers and Kanhai. Suddenly we had a new sports icon. One who could look a fast bowler in the eye and score against them. Hence began a phenomenon named Sunny Gavaskar, a little man who mastered fast bowling.
And the End…
The 5th and final test at Bangalore, of an intriguing India verses Pakistan in 1986 showcased the genius of Sunil Gavaskar.
It was a wicket turning square. After a very even two innings, Pakistan went into bat in the 3rd inning with their best player of spin opening. Javed Miandad used his pads and feet to negate the Indian spinners. By the time the Pakistan innings ended, India need some 200 runs to win. However, by this time the wicket was a mine field with puffs of dust raising each time the ball hit the turf.
In Tausif Ahmed and Iqbal Quaim Pakistan had probably the best spinners to exploit these co editions. But Gavaskar had other ideas. He was fluent in his batting, stepping out and playing the spinners on merit. Without any support from the other end with wickets tumbling to the experienced spinners, Sunny almost got India to victory. An umpiring error cost India the game. Gavaskar was given out, caught at slip off his forearm guard for 96. An epic inning had ended so had the official test match career of a colossus.
Sadly, this was his last game in Indian colors; he did play the ROW against England 1st class match at Lord’s making 188, caught off Ravi Shastri, and added the one missing piece to his otherwise excellent curriculum vitae. A Century at Lord’s. Adieu legend.
Hope you liked the small tribute to the little master- Sunil gavaskar. Until then, stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com
A special thanks to Hemant Sood for contributing his wonderful piece of article. In his own words, as he likes to be introduced- वेला बंदा is a retired businessman.But surely he is surely a busy man. An avid cricket fan, and an encyclopedia of Cricketing Knowledge, Hemant is a very welcome addition to Shamsnwags writing panel. Hemant has been following and living cricket since his childhood and has carried the passion to his second childhood uninterrupted.