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Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar

In an era, when the Indian cricket team’s batting credentials against good pace bowling was largely to suspect, Sunil Gavaskar’s entry to the team as an opener was a Godsend. Sunil Gavaskar has been considered to be one of the all time best opening batsmen in the history of Test cricket. His game was built around a near-perfect technique and enormous powers of concentration.

Gavaskar was the first cricketer in the world to surpass the 10,000 run mark in Test matches, with the biggest number of centuries to his credit during his time. He was the first person to score centuries in both innings of a Test match thrice. He played with equal felicity off both front and back feet, had excellent judgment of length and line, and was beautifully balanced.

Born on July 10, 1949 at Mumbai, to Manohar Gavaskar and Meenal Gavaskar, Sunil started playing cricket right since his school days. His father had been a good club player and his maternal uncle, had been a former Indian Test wicketkeeper.

At the age of 17, Gavaskar was named India’s Best Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1966. He made his debut in the Ranji Trophy in the year 1968 with a match against Karnataka and was out for a zero score. But in the next match, he responded with 114 against Rajasthan in the second match, and two further consecutive centuries saw him selected in the 1970-71 Indian team tour West Indies.

In the five match series he had to miss the first one due to injury. He scored 132 runs in his second match, getting India its first ever Test victory over West Indies. He continued his form throughout the series and scored 774 runs in the next four matches, helping India to made its first ever Test Series victory over West Indies.

Gavaskar was widely admired for his technique against fast bowling, with a particularly high average of around 65 against the West Indies, who possessed the most vicious fast bowling attack in Test history.

In 1977-78 tour to Australia, he scored three consecutive Test centuries in the first three Tests. His twin century against Pakistan in 1978-79, made him the first batsman to score two centuries in one Test on two occasions. However, Gavaskar’s best Test innings came in his last Test match against Pakistan, when on a turning track he scored an amazing 96.

Over the 70s and 80s Gavaskar captained India on many occasions, although his record is less than impressive. Thus he was replaced by Kapil Dev who was a leading pace bowler. His slip fielding was safe, and he became the first Indian cricketer to take over 100 catches in Tests.

Gavaskar made his One Day International (ODI) debut against England, played at the Leeds ground on July 1974. In ODI cricket career, he scored 3092 runs in 108 matches with an average score of 35.13 runs and a highest score of 103 runs. He was also the part of the 1983 Cricket World Cup winning team that won the World Cup in England.

Gavaskar registered his highest Test score against West Indies at Chennai in 1983, equaling Don Bradman’s world record. In overall Test cricket career, Gavaskar played 125 Test matches and scored 10,122 runs with an average of 51.12, including 34 centuries and 45 half-centuries.

Gavaskar played his last Test match against Pakistan in March 1987 and retired after the 1987 Cricket World Cup that was held in India. After retirement he has taken to commentary and holds a position within the ICC. He has also authored four books on cricket, including an autobiography, ‘Sunny Days’.

The Government of India honored him with the Padma Bhushan Award in 1980, and in the same year he was also named the Wisden Cricketer of the Year. The India-Australia Test series is named after Sunil Gavaskar and Allan Border and is called the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.