India v West Indies, second Test, Delhi, 1983 March 21, 2010

Hook-filled and Bradmanesque

Pradeep Magazine
Sunil Gavaskar's 29th Test century came against two of the most ferocious quicks of all time
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It can be almost impossible to figure out which is the best innings one has watched. Memory can play tricks with you and nostalgia can exaggerate the worth of an event and make it appear more valuable than it seemed when it was played.

Taking inspiration from what Marquez said, "Life is not what one lived but how one remembers it", I go back 27 years to an innings I think is among the very best, if not the best, I have seen.

Sunil Gavaskar had perhaps the most balanced stance in the history of the game, a perfect blend of elegance and grace, even before he had made his first move to address the ball. So it was hard to believe the man who had tamed the most furious fast bowlers of his time had his bat been knocked out of his hand by a Malcolm Marshall bouncer in the 1983 Kanpur Test against West Indies. India lost that match by an innings and the critics began to ask that he step down. Gavaskar was on the retreat.

The next Test was in Delhi, where he was once again subjected to a vicious short-ball attack by Marshall and Michael Holding, two of the most intimidating fast bowlers the world has ever seen. That day Gavaskar, the calm and cool builder of an innings, decided to take fate in his own hands and launched a blistering counterattack, the memory of which has stayed in my mind despite the amount of cricket I have watched over the years.

His footwork that day was almost divine. He did not weave and duck at the crease, but played what I still think is the best exhibition of hooking I have watched. As if knowing the intent of the bowlers before they had released the ball, Gavaskar got into perfect position to hook, and raced to his half-century off just 37 balls. He took 57 more to record his 29th century, a feat achieved by only man before him - Donald Bradman.

Gavaskar had reserved his best to match the greatest batsman the history of the game has known.

Pradeep Magazine has been writing on cricket for three decades. He is the author of the book Not Quite Cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • henchart on March 24, 2010, 15:18 GMT

    It is bad enough to compare batsmen of different eras ,it is worse to have a go at each other after such comparisons.

  • vinaykn on March 24, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    That is true.There are many many batsmen.Few of them are best among all. That's OK.But taking only name and minimizing all others is not correct. Bradman left the stats that he could have performed in any conditions.Even in body line series also he performed exceptionally and won one test match for the team.It is not correct argue that some one has played X conditions,and X conditions are not available for Bradman,so some one is greater than Bradman.It is meaningless argument and illogical.If I argue that if Sachin plays without helmet, he could have failed completely,will it any sensible argument?If need to compare,there should be some base line, like same time, same batting order etc.For current era,we can compare Lara,Sachin,Dravid,Ponting etc,but not by taking complete career,making some common baseline.End of the day,stats never prove exactly.Finally,It is you,by seeing which batsman you get entertained more.I never saw Bradman.I Like Dravid,Sehwag,Lara,Waugh batting among all

  • ZA77 on March 24, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    This is to my late comments on it. Dear Vinaykn, it is very difficult to judge who is actual best in test. Bradman is legend but he played against amateurs bowlers with all cricket in Australia and England, 26 timeless matches, seamless bowling with 80% England. He never played any quality W. Indian fast bowler, no top spinner from India, no quality bowler from Africa and from England only two bowlers with 100 or more wickets in test before world war II. After it, four bowlers who joined 100 or more after his retirement. For leading 50 bowlers in test Don faced one that is Bedser after world war II and for 100 only five. Gavaskar played pure professional bowlers with 18 bowlers 200 or wickets in test. It is still debatable that Don is better or Tendulkar although I think both are equivalent from talent point of view. But from achievement point of view, no doubt Tendulkar has a clear edge. So in my opinion, anyone Lara, Tendulkar, Bradman, Gavaskar or Viv Richard may be the best.

  • vinaykn on March 23, 2010, 22:36 GMT

    @Drew2:Dont think too much about certain people who can think only one name as best batsmen.Problem is in India we have to see one name everyday in news papers with some kind of news/article.Market and business is created on that name.They cannot think beyond that.It just humours me when they say-Bradman was a statistical wonder.They can devalue and minimize any name for the sake of that name.That name Sachin Tendulkar Everybody agree Test Cricket is real cricket where it tests your real talent.If you are best you must have excelled in this type of cricket.Out of 271 innings, what are the top 5 best performances?are they really best high ranked ones?Do you have record breaking performances within a match?why you dont have?What are performances when teamis losing and crunch?Do you have any major achievement of a team?Have you got MOM in any important overseas victory other than BD,NZ?why?Howmany times you batted more than at least 500min?Are these not bench marks of greatness?NoForThem

  • TruthBeTold on March 23, 2010, 15:47 GMT

    Man, what an attack to get his 29th against..Marshall, Holding, Daniel and Roberts. He got his 236* in the same series in Chennai (then Madras) and it was an awesome display. Vengsarkar was the other superb Indian batsman in the series. 13 centuries against West Indians...Man, what a XXXXXX genius he was!

  • henchart on March 23, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    1983-84 Series against WI in India for SMG was one of a mixed bag.He failed in Kanpur,did well in Delhi,almost overtook Bradman in centuries at Ahmedabad before being distracted by movement at sightscreen,was run of the mill at Bombay and fared poorly in Calcutta but hit back with vengeance at Madras.Runs and Ruins gives a vivid description of his exploits rather SMG gives a vivid description of his exploits in Runs and Ruins.It is a must read for those interested in knowing how India fared immediately after the heady win of Prudential Cup in 1983.Amarnath was a big let down in that home series against WI and Vengsarkar played a gem of an Innings at Wankhede.Richards and Haynes were not very successful while Greenidge,Lloyd,Dujon and Marshall excelled with the bat.However that Series stands out for SMG V/s Marshall encounters.Much later it was SRT V/s Glenn McGrath.

  • D.Nagarajan on March 23, 2010, 12:51 GMT

    Supratik,please upload the SMG video on youtube, I have been searching for old SMG innings for years. Its priceless!!

  • ZA77 on March 23, 2010, 10:45 GMT

    Yes this is right that Gavaskar had not scored all 13 centuries against the best attack of W. Indies. He faced Holding in 15 test matches, Marshall in 14, Robert in 11, Holder in 11 and Garner only 4. When he started his career, he did not know about the coming cricket. He played totally 27 test matches against them. Another discussion is that who is actual best in test matches for which I have names of Tendulkar, Lara, Bradman, Gavaskar and Richard. Sobers said Gavaskar is the best. For those who argue that Bradman is the best due to average. I think we should see big picture and then decide. Like Lara runs per innings at home versus England is 71.45 which is more than any other batsman including Don with 71.33 but Lara faced them 1 / 9 it means focusing on single team might improve it too much. May be 100 or more. Overall his 79.8 and Lara 58.49 against England so ratio stands 1.35:1. But he played 22% of his innings and Don 79%. Who is actual best is still unsolved, perhaps Gavaskar

  • Drew2 on March 23, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    What is really amusing Gupta.Ankur is your lack of credibility as a judge of who's the best batsman going around. Clearly in your world they are all Indian. Tendulkar isn't even the best batsman in the last 30 years, let alone comparing him to someone completely out of his league like Sir Donald Bradman. I've seen a lot of cricket (with my eyes open) over the last 40 years and I can tell you that the likes of Vivian Richards and Brian Lara are bigger matchwinners than Tendulkar, and there are others. As for Sunil Gavaskar, he might be in the top 10 as an opener. At least he didn't have Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to bolster his career. You might want to visit thoses statistics which show a severe average drop for SD when you discount these teams.

  • Mrityunjaya on March 23, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    I was in standard VII when WI visited India in 1983. India succumbed to havoc of Malcolm Marshall in that series. I do remember Sunil Gavaskar scoring three consecutive boundaries of Malcolm Marshall in Calcutta test just before lunch. India started its inning at 12:15 pm 15 minutes before lunch and Sunny played those gem of shots. I don't remember the details of the test but those shots are inscribed in my mind.

  • henchart on March 24, 2010, 15:18 GMT

    It is bad enough to compare batsmen of different eras ,it is worse to have a go at each other after such comparisons.

  • vinaykn on March 24, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    That is true.There are many many batsmen.Few of them are best among all. That's OK.But taking only name and minimizing all others is not correct. Bradman left the stats that he could have performed in any conditions.Even in body line series also he performed exceptionally and won one test match for the team.It is not correct argue that some one has played X conditions,and X conditions are not available for Bradman,so some one is greater than Bradman.It is meaningless argument and illogical.If I argue that if Sachin plays without helmet, he could have failed completely,will it any sensible argument?If need to compare,there should be some base line, like same time, same batting order etc.For current era,we can compare Lara,Sachin,Dravid,Ponting etc,but not by taking complete career,making some common baseline.End of the day,stats never prove exactly.Finally,It is you,by seeing which batsman you get entertained more.I never saw Bradman.I Like Dravid,Sehwag,Lara,Waugh batting among all

  • ZA77 on March 24, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    This is to my late comments on it. Dear Vinaykn, it is very difficult to judge who is actual best in test. Bradman is legend but he played against amateurs bowlers with all cricket in Australia and England, 26 timeless matches, seamless bowling with 80% England. He never played any quality W. Indian fast bowler, no top spinner from India, no quality bowler from Africa and from England only two bowlers with 100 or more wickets in test before world war II. After it, four bowlers who joined 100 or more after his retirement. For leading 50 bowlers in test Don faced one that is Bedser after world war II and for 100 only five. Gavaskar played pure professional bowlers with 18 bowlers 200 or wickets in test. It is still debatable that Don is better or Tendulkar although I think both are equivalent from talent point of view. But from achievement point of view, no doubt Tendulkar has a clear edge. So in my opinion, anyone Lara, Tendulkar, Bradman, Gavaskar or Viv Richard may be the best.

  • vinaykn on March 23, 2010, 22:36 GMT

    @Drew2:Dont think too much about certain people who can think only one name as best batsmen.Problem is in India we have to see one name everyday in news papers with some kind of news/article.Market and business is created on that name.They cannot think beyond that.It just humours me when they say-Bradman was a statistical wonder.They can devalue and minimize any name for the sake of that name.That name Sachin Tendulkar Everybody agree Test Cricket is real cricket where it tests your real talent.If you are best you must have excelled in this type of cricket.Out of 271 innings, what are the top 5 best performances?are they really best high ranked ones?Do you have record breaking performances within a match?why you dont have?What are performances when teamis losing and crunch?Do you have any major achievement of a team?Have you got MOM in any important overseas victory other than BD,NZ?why?Howmany times you batted more than at least 500min?Are these not bench marks of greatness?NoForThem

  • TruthBeTold on March 23, 2010, 15:47 GMT

    Man, what an attack to get his 29th against..Marshall, Holding, Daniel and Roberts. He got his 236* in the same series in Chennai (then Madras) and it was an awesome display. Vengsarkar was the other superb Indian batsman in the series. 13 centuries against West Indians...Man, what a XXXXXX genius he was!

  • henchart on March 23, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    1983-84 Series against WI in India for SMG was one of a mixed bag.He failed in Kanpur,did well in Delhi,almost overtook Bradman in centuries at Ahmedabad before being distracted by movement at sightscreen,was run of the mill at Bombay and fared poorly in Calcutta but hit back with vengeance at Madras.Runs and Ruins gives a vivid description of his exploits rather SMG gives a vivid description of his exploits in Runs and Ruins.It is a must read for those interested in knowing how India fared immediately after the heady win of Prudential Cup in 1983.Amarnath was a big let down in that home series against WI and Vengsarkar played a gem of an Innings at Wankhede.Richards and Haynes were not very successful while Greenidge,Lloyd,Dujon and Marshall excelled with the bat.However that Series stands out for SMG V/s Marshall encounters.Much later it was SRT V/s Glenn McGrath.

  • D.Nagarajan on March 23, 2010, 12:51 GMT

    Supratik,please upload the SMG video on youtube, I have been searching for old SMG innings for years. Its priceless!!

  • ZA77 on March 23, 2010, 10:45 GMT

    Yes this is right that Gavaskar had not scored all 13 centuries against the best attack of W. Indies. He faced Holding in 15 test matches, Marshall in 14, Robert in 11, Holder in 11 and Garner only 4. When he started his career, he did not know about the coming cricket. He played totally 27 test matches against them. Another discussion is that who is actual best in test matches for which I have names of Tendulkar, Lara, Bradman, Gavaskar and Richard. Sobers said Gavaskar is the best. For those who argue that Bradman is the best due to average. I think we should see big picture and then decide. Like Lara runs per innings at home versus England is 71.45 which is more than any other batsman including Don with 71.33 but Lara faced them 1 / 9 it means focusing on single team might improve it too much. May be 100 or more. Overall his 79.8 and Lara 58.49 against England so ratio stands 1.35:1. But he played 22% of his innings and Don 79%. Who is actual best is still unsolved, perhaps Gavaskar

  • Drew2 on March 23, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    What is really amusing Gupta.Ankur is your lack of credibility as a judge of who's the best batsman going around. Clearly in your world they are all Indian. Tendulkar isn't even the best batsman in the last 30 years, let alone comparing him to someone completely out of his league like Sir Donald Bradman. I've seen a lot of cricket (with my eyes open) over the last 40 years and I can tell you that the likes of Vivian Richards and Brian Lara are bigger matchwinners than Tendulkar, and there are others. As for Sunil Gavaskar, he might be in the top 10 as an opener. At least he didn't have Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to bolster his career. You might want to visit thoses statistics which show a severe average drop for SD when you discount these teams.

  • Mrityunjaya on March 23, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    I was in standard VII when WI visited India in 1983. India succumbed to havoc of Malcolm Marshall in that series. I do remember Sunil Gavaskar scoring three consecutive boundaries of Malcolm Marshall in Calcutta test just before lunch. India started its inning at 12:15 pm 15 minutes before lunch and Sunny played those gem of shots. I don't remember the details of the test but those shots are inscribed in my mind.

  • sbrahmachari on March 23, 2010, 4:09 GMT

    Dear Supratik, To know that you have the video of that great innings of Sunny, I am dying to get it. Can you please do this favor to me. If possible, please tell me what are the possible ways you can send me a copy of that video. I will try my best to help you. If you need to spend money for that, I can repay that to you. Please write me to my following email: saurav432@yahoo.co.in

    Thanks Saurav

  • TheOnlyEmperor on March 23, 2010, 4:02 GMT

    Look at the photo attached to the article.Guys, look at it! That was Gavaskar! Stepping daringly ahead outside the crease, sans helmet, and playing the extra cover drive, to fast bowlers, who were ferocious and made the ball move and sniff your nose and edge the bat. That was the opposition against which he scored the first ever to score 10000 runs! Show me one single modern day batsman today who can step outside the crease as SG did and consistently drive the ball through the cover region - helmet or no hemet without edging to a 5 slip cordon before he reaches 30! For a 5 foot nothing to step out a metre in front of the crease to do that is something!

  • ab1968 on March 22, 2010, 21:37 GMT

    @Supratik

    I have searched off and on for a video of this innings for twenty years - any chance of getting a copy? Anyone?

  • frankintoronto on March 22, 2010, 20:59 GMT

    I would take SG any day. Sunil is way better than Sachin against genuine fast bowling.. saw Ambrose fail Sachin bad in West Indies. The only guy who took on Ambrose was Dravid. I would also take Haq over Sachin any day..he is one of the few who could bat geniune pacers like Ambrose and Walsh.

  • Raj_Adv on March 22, 2010, 17:29 GMT

    Silky Johnson, "... Plus Bradman played his entire career on uncovered pitches - could he have averaged even higher in todays conditions?!" The benefit of extensive and threadbare analysis on today's laptops coupled with the sheer science of fast bowling as it has evolved now, would ensure that even Bradman could not have scored more even on covered pitches. Not to say that Bradman was in any way inferior, but just wanted to point out that the record is so because it is predominantly against England. We can only guess what it would have been had he played today. It can grind both ways! Anyway, speaking of Gavaskar, even though Sir Viv did not have to play against bowlers of the calibre of his own team, he could not score so many hundreds, nor runs. What I wanted to point out was the fact that Gavaskar's concentration was legendary, his technique unparallelled, he would not get hit on the body, and he did not require a helmet at all.

  • frankintoronto on March 22, 2010, 16:04 GMT

    Gavaskar is better than Tendulkar any time. Look, I watched Tendulkar against Ambrose in wi.; he couldnt play him at all. The only

  • AB99 on March 22, 2010, 15:19 GMT

    supratik - can you share the SMG video - I will be indebted forever ... pls let me know your contact details

  • Beazle on March 22, 2010, 13:43 GMT

    This recent strange but rather amusing attempt by our Indian friends (and I mean that) to depose DG Bradman from his hitherto unquestioned ranking as the greatest batsman ever is really very, very silly. That man is in another universe as far as batting goes -forget trying to compare Bradman to anyone else.

    As to the players I have seen -I am afraid I cannot rank Tendulkar above Lara or indeed Sehwag as he is not a matchwinner. To put it another way, he does not frighten the opposition in the same way the other two do.

  • sivadubai on March 22, 2010, 11:52 GMT

    Pradeep's memories have kindled my memories. What a great innings they were. 1983 series against the windies, I used to bunk the classes to sneak into the recreation room where we had a small TV (B/w) to follow the match. 127 not out carrying his bat through the innings with Maninder as the last batsman, 29th Century against Marshall & co, 30th Century at chennai (came down at no 4) when two wickets fell at no score on the board. 96 at chinnaswamy stadium, cutting Ijaz fakih for a glide and crossing 10,000 runs. Man, you can write miles and miles of books on Sunny's greatest innings'. When asked in a radio interview after he crossed 10,000 runs, about his advise to the younger generations, Sunny was quick to point out Four D's - Duty, Discipline, Dedication & Determination. Combination of these four D's would result in success irrespective of any where you are and what your career is. Great words, he is a perfectionist. I dont care who still throw mud on Sunny, he is the greatest ever

  • Gupta.Ankur on March 22, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    Well there's hardly any doubt in anyone's mind who's the best batsman the game has seen or will ever see- Sachin Tendulkar.....

    Bradman was a statistical wonder whereas Tendulkar had to bat not only against some 20 best fast bowlers ever but also the two greatest spinner- Warne and Murali....

    Also it shows people's knowledge of the game when they say sachin or SG didn't win games... What must be remembered is you need other 5 batsman to score and your 4 bowlers to take 20 wickets...Which both didn't have.

    In that way ponting will remain ahead not beacuse of himself but because of Mcgrath,Warne,Hayden,Langer,Steve Waugh,Gillespie and many others.......

  • waspsting on March 22, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    Great innings - like he was telling Marshall (Holding was just about past his best, Marshall was coming into his) - "just cause i play defensively doesn't mean I can't take you and your short stuff to the cleaners if i want to". Fantastic innings. Gavaskar's record against WI is usually misinterpreted. he scored 4 centuries against the "fearsome foursome" quartet of pace bowlers. 4 were scored in his debut series against a much weaker attack, 1 against an attack headed by Roberts before any of the others had debuted and 4 when the packer players were away. It is a GREAT achievement to do all that he did - if it were easy, everyone would have done it. BUT the impression created by the statement "he scored 13 centuries against west indies" brings to mind his scoring those against Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft, Marshall. That would have been even more impressive and more impressive than was actually the case! still - grreat batsman, great achievment and this was one great knock

  • ZA77 on March 22, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    According to Sir. Sobers Gavaskar is the best. Please see some facts.

    Bradman scored 42 fifty plus innings in which two innings are from 80-99. Then 29 hundred plus in which 150 plus are 18 and two of them are 175-199 then twelve are 200 plus and in which 300 or plus are two scores with 6297 runs scored in 50 or plus innings. We can compare it with Sunil Gavaskar as he had also managed 42 (22 are fifty plus and 20 are hundred plus) fifty or plus innings in his first 52 test matches with run scored 5007 at 27 grounds in four continents in which 7 grounds are in India with 50 or plus 4205 runs scored. Gavaskar lost his wickets 50 (12 11 11 8 8) times by Underwood, Imran, Holding, Ian & Marshall in his career and faced others like Wasim Akram, Richard Hadlee, Denis Lillee, Joel Garner, Andy Robert, Bob Willis, John Snow, Thomson, Craig McDermot, Merv Hughes, Lance Gibbs, Abdul Qadir and Garry Sober, all took 200 or more, Bradman only one that is Bedser.

  • on March 22, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    The reason why Sunny is not as respected as Tendulkar is a) When tendulkar played everyone in India knew what cricket was but when Gavaskar played 90% only heard him on the radio. b) People compared him to Gundappa and Kapil and assumed they were fair like it would be to compare Tendulkar to Sehwag and Yuvraj. Both are heroes in their own eras except when Sunny played he was really a one man team, Tendulkar still had company in Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly, Azhar and several others. Gavaskar had Gundappa and Vengsarkar but no one else.

    Whatever rest of India says, I have seen this master at work since the 70s and there would be no one like him ever.

  • zxaar on March 22, 2010, 9:28 GMT

    @Maui3 "The reality is quite different, when it comes to his performance against WI bowlers in their prime." well the truth is reality is what people say, he really dominated WI bowlers. I have checked numbers long time ago and there was only one series where gavaskar averaged around 25, rest of the series against WI he averaged 40+ against them. I only checked for the series when WI has their main bowlers. Further you can not bring the argument that of type - 'if you leave that double in that series , his average was ... '. The reason for that is all the batsman score high and then some low scores. Just like gavaskar did. Even bradman is no exception to this rule. (who has 7.5% innings as ducks). Sorry but you are wrong about Sunny.

  • SilkyJohnson on March 22, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    Rad_Adv - I think Sunny was probably the best opening bat in test history. But you are dreaming if you think he (or anyone else for that matter) was as in the same league as Bradman!

    To suggest India in 1947 are the equivalent of Bangladesh now may be fair, but you are forgetting that Bradman was 39 when he played them, having played only 4 tests in the previous 10 years due to WW2 & health issues. Also Australia never toured India during his career so he didn't "turn down his chance". Plus Bradman played his entire career on uncovered pitches - could he have averaged even higher in todays conditions?!

    Sunny's best series against the Windies were during the early to mid 1970s, when they were hardly the world beaters of the 1980s teams. Sunny had a good series on Indian pitches when the WI were at their peak in 83/84 but averaged only 30 against them on the bouncy decks of the WI in 82/83.

    Undoubtedly an all-time great player, but Bradman was something else completely!

  • TheOnlyEmperor on March 22, 2010, 8:04 GMT

    In fact little is mentioned about SG's captaincy and his ability to form a closely knit competent unit performing to excellence. The 1985 Victoria Jubilee ODI series comes to mind, which India won so comprehensively. Surprisingly, what won India that series was the fact that the bowlers were on target and bowling to the field, bowling out the opposition in most games; this combined with excellent outfielding and catching, with players diving all over the place. One must acknowledge that given the fact that when even in 2010 such bowler and out field performance is a rarity, the fact that SG got his players to do that and win an entire tournament, quite comprehensively at that, speaks volumes of his excellent captaincy. In my mind, it's the best series ever played by India, far superior to the 1983 WC cup victory in terms of team cohesion and performance.

  • Gupta.Ankur on March 22, 2010, 5:22 GMT

    well i find it amusing that to enjoy the greatness of Gavaskar or Tendulkar or Dravid you need to start comparing them.....

    Gavaskar was the best test opener ever and his achievements need to be respected.....

    The silly debate of who's india's best batsman mus wrest for another day.........

  • Supratik on March 22, 2010, 5:15 GMT

    A good piece, but too brief a description of this inns. I am lucky to have this inns of SMG on VIDEO. His balance was beyond compare as many have written here. After the Kanpur fiasco, he chose to bring out his hook shot which was gathering cobwebs for the last 7 years. He had discarded it in the team's interest in 76-77 and took it out in his own interest again. One stark fact is that he played the majority part of the inns on the back foot. And here one square cut stands out in memory. The ball had sped to the backward point boundary before Marshall had even completed his followthrough. No monster bats then and no helmets for this man either in an era that featured the best fast bowlers of all time (70's & 80's). A marvel and a test batsman only second to Bradman.

  • shanz12 on March 22, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    I can remember a ranji match against Karnataka when Sunny played left handed for well over 2hours some top quality spin.In this match Karnataka spinners ran through a bombay side consisting of the likes of Sandip Patel,Ravi Shastri,Vengsarkar.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on March 22, 2010, 5:01 GMT

    The reality is that SG had an exceptional record against the WI. The number of centuries scored against them speak for themselves, when most others were wobbling to stand before them. I've had the privilege of watching a number of SG's games on TV... He scored at fair clip and quite often scored 40+ runs in an hour and a century by 3pm, in an era when bowlers had long run ups and took their own time to bowl and a day consisted of just 75 odd overs. It's so unfair that he got tainted as a slow scorer after that 36 no in the 1975 WC ODI. SG on top of the innings was the only backbone that India had. He was all grit, something I have not seen in any of the Indian batsmen hence save Dravid. SG also took risks and invariably offered a chance on the way to most of his centuries. He was often a victim of politics and petty minds (administration and players) that so often want to see a great fail. I'm proud of SG the way he stood up to fight wrongs, racial bias and petty mindedness.

  • Raj_Adv on March 22, 2010, 4:51 GMT

    Maui3, If history remembers Gavaskar as the man who dominated the WI attack, it was not without adequate reason. He had some of his best innings against the WI, including his debut series in 1971, when he scored 774 runs in 4 tests. More than the runs, it is the manner in which he got them that attests to Gavaskar's stature as one of the greatest batsmen ever to grace the game, Bradman included. Comparisons across generations are odious, I know. But Bradman averaged 99.96 primarily by playing 37 tests out of 59 against England, with an average of 89.78. The remaining 15 tests were split equally between West Indies, India and South Africa ... In 1947, India was the Bangladesh equivalent of today, one of the weakest teams in the world. West Indies did not have any players of world beating calibre. Bradman also did not play in India, turning down his chance. Gavaskar got 13 of his 34 hundreds against WI.

  • gr8_sachin_fan on March 22, 2010, 4:19 GMT

    @Rama rao, Sachin cannot be compared to sunny.. Sunny has achieved something worthwhile for his team, not just for his personal statistics..

  • AlokJoshi on March 22, 2010, 3:59 GMT

    The whirlwind initiation of Sunil Gavaskar into test match cricket and some illustrous knocks of 70s are what I have come to know of by reading. Yet I distinctly remember, listening on radio, his attacking best that October day. I was more excited about prospect of his reaching 100 before lunch (which didn't happen), than my own imminent achievement of hitting double figures in terms of years! On that day, he disbanded the premium he used to attach to his wicket, and played like a man on a mission, and succeeded in proving a point or two. His solitary one-day hundred against NZ was an unbelievably quick knock as well, but bowling attacks were incomparable. On the other hand, I remember the 127* at Faisalabad, when he carried his bat, and watching on TV the 96 in his final test match innings at Bangalore, which were quite the contrary in terms of application and dogged determination to not lose his wicket. Among the best players of genuine pace ever, Sunil Gavaskar is a living legend.

  • Maui3 on March 22, 2010, 2:51 GMT

    It was a fantastic innings. And as somebody else mentioned, his 90 at ahmedabad in the next test was even better. As a side note though, it was a lousy series for Gavaskar. Until a meaningless 236 not out in the dead rubber in the 6th and final test, Gavasker was averaging around 25 per innings, inspite of these two innings. Marshall, Holding, Roberts et al were relentless and apart from Vengsarkar, no body could handle WI bowlers (Amarnath had scores of 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0 in 6 innings). The next series against WI in WI was another nightmare for gavaskar. He averaged 30 in 5 tests, which included a 149 not out in a washed out game. History remembers Gavaskar as though he dominated WI bowlers. The reality is quite different, when it comes to his performance against WI bowlers in their prime. Yes, I know Ii am digressing :-)

  • on March 22, 2010, 2:29 GMT

    no tendulkar yet in the comments..i'm surprised.

  • nafzak on March 22, 2010, 1:52 GMT

    Did someone compare Boycott with Sunny? Boycott was scared of true fast bowling. Recently none other than Sir Garfield Sobers said that Sunny is the best batsman he has ever seen play. Sunny played without helmet and elbow/arm guards etc.

    I am a West Indian and without a doubt, he was the one and only batsman that was like the calypso said "Gavaskar was like a brick wall, you couldn't out him at all."

  • RARD on March 21, 2010, 21:07 GMT

    Thanks for taking me down memory lane.I had the privilege of watching that entire innings on TV.Sunil was known to be a frontline warrior & is easily the greatest defensive player to have played the game. To have played an attacking innings against Malcom Marshall,who as far as I am concerned was the most destrutive fast bowler of all time,was absolutely phenomenal.To put that Kanpur incident in context,Marshall had bowled an unplayable delivery which all of a sudden rose up from just short of a length & it was only Sunil's outstanding technique that he managed to guard his face with the bat & hence prevent getting injured.Any other player in that situation would have fractured his skull.After this some moronic so called experts proclaimed that he was finished.Being mentally tough that he is,he told Maninder Singh that he will take care of Marshall in the next test match.What followed was a great couterattacking innings & he was particularly severe on Marshall.

  • SunilPotnis on March 21, 2010, 20:10 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar, Geoffrey Boycott were the masters at playing fast, shortpitched bowling and Gavaskar was even better to face the spin bowling. There is only one man who could destroy any attack, fast or spin, at will, Sir Issac Vivian Alexander Richards. Faster you bowl, harder you get hit and no bowler could never initmidate him ever.

  • Rajesh. on March 21, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    Sunny Gavaskar was Sunny Gavaskar......... perhaps the best player of fast bowling the world has seen........ A 94-ball Sehwag-like hundred against some of the best fast bowlers in history... do we need say more ?

  • gr8_sachin_fan on March 21, 2010, 19:16 GMT

    Surely Sunil Gavaskar is the greatest Batsman India has produced by far. There has never been any other Indian batsman who could come close to his achievements. Even Rahul Dravid would fall short by a thin margin. Hats off to SMG.

  • on March 21, 2010, 17:12 GMT

    The matter of bat being knocked out of hand is easily explainable by the fact that great batsmen play short, fast, and rising deliveries with 'soft' hands. The bat is held very loose so that in the event of a snick, the ball does not carry. On that occasion it slipped out after the impact; it was not 'knocked out'. I recall many talking heads needlessly going on about the incident. An opener who played one test in his career even gave SMG advice on how to play fast bowling in a national newspaper.

  • Maha_Fan on March 21, 2010, 17:10 GMT

    I remember bunking afternoon school activities to see it at someone else' house. This was too short an article to describe that innings. I thought SMG was finished after Kanpur because he had not done too well in Pak against Imran & co. and looked out of sorts against the short ball. Believe his coach Kamal Bhandarkar told him why you stopped hooking, and SMG said he had stopped after Lillie's bouncer in Rest of World series a decade back. That was some innings!! I still remember the hooks and pulls. It was sensational. It was a new Avatar of SMG that many of us had not seen. It will rank as one of the best of any era.

  • squarepeg on March 21, 2010, 17:02 GMT

    Gavaskar's balance was out of the world. Hundreds of pictures of his batting and u wud hardly find any where he is on his heels or disbalanced after finishing a stroke... seemed always on his toes, head steady, ready to take a single after tucking the ball between fine and square leg... we are lucky these 'magic' bats werent in vogue then, or Sunil's and Vishy's artistry cud hv been overshadowed by sheer power.

  • Raj_Adv on March 21, 2010, 16:21 GMT

    Sorry bobkhanrd, I think you got your facts wrong this time. It was indeed at Green Park, Kanpur, that Gavaskar had his bat knocked out by Marshall. Gavaskar got out for 121 in Delhi, and not once was he beaten until he got out. He played shots all round the wicket, the pull, the cut, and, best of all, the hook. Gavaskar is on record that he did not know when he got to his century - it was only when Vengsarkar went to congratulate him that he realised he had got to his century.

  • vaempuli on March 21, 2010, 14:21 GMT

    @bobkhanrd it happened in the kanpur test. In the second innings of the Delhi test SMG was dismissed LBW by Holding. I was privileged to watch that innings at Delhi as well as that at Chennai. In Delhi SMG reached his 100 in 94 balls and wasn't quite aware of what had happened .. Vengsarkar greeted him with a "Bloody Hell it is your 29th." :)

  • Pathiyal on March 21, 2010, 10:48 GMT

    Very interesting!!!!!!!!! Now if i watch the recordings of old matches, this is one person who makes me believe that cricket is not just about slogging. Each shot played by him was having an individuality of its own. Sunny's innings relax you a lot. You can just sit back, relax and enjoy those innings. His commentary is also enjoyable.

  • bobkhanrd on March 21, 2010, 10:31 GMT

    Gentle correction to the posting by Majr that "when Marshall had knocked out the bat from Gavaskar's hand in Kanpur test" . Actually it happened in the second innings of the Delhi test when Gavaskar was dismissed by Marshall for 15 caught at short leg. Nonetheless the most entertaining innings by Sunny not only for that hooked six but numerous straight drives throughout the innings.

  • amit1807kuwait on March 21, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    Just a bit more nostalgia from that series of 1983-84. The Madras (now Chennai) test was probably the last one of the series, and Gavaskar, amidst some controversy had decided that he would bat at No. 4 and not open the batting. So when he came to the crease in Madras, the scorecard, duly read 0 for 2, courtesy the great West Indian fast bowlers. I am told that Viv Richards, who was at second slip, greeted Gavaskar by saying "Maan it doesnt matter what position you bat, the score of your team is still Zero!!"

  • ram5160 on March 21, 2010, 8:50 GMT

    Dont forget that he wore NO HELMET!!!!!! I also used to enjoy his commentary for his relentless bagging of the white man. Now, cant bear to watch cricketers of his stature reduced to becoming salesmen in the IPL.

  • akpy on March 21, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    thanks for the memories..i remember watching on TV..it was a superb knock laced with some brilliant shots with the century coming up thru a stunning on drive and i think vengsarkar told sunny about reaching the landmark..sunny pretended not to look at the scoreboard...sunny has played several amazing innings, the 221 in oval, the century in a pak test carrying his bat thru when imran was going berserk, his farewell knock..if only satellite tv was there, all these guys would have become even greater..i remember holding bouncing kirmani out of frustration during his partnership with sunny in chennai..at that pace, not easy esp for sunny with just a steel cap..great batsman sunny was.

  • AB99 on March 21, 2010, 6:50 GMT

    Too short am article to discuss the SMG masterpiece at New Delhi that day. I had bunked my post graduate lectures that day and did not repent it one bit. And not to mention SMG followed that with an even better 90 at Ahmedabad test till some joker walked across the sight screen and made the great man loose his concentration and wicket. The next best could be the 281 from VVS against McGrath, Gillespe, Warne and company for its sheer dominance from a hopeles situation his team was in ....

  • zoominyogi on March 21, 2010, 5:34 GMT

    If the innings was played in 1983...then the line should be:"I go back 27 years to an innings I ....."..and not "I go back 17 years to an innings I.........".it was 27 years not 17

  • on March 21, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    It was like reading about the mystics of Indian culture while learning to speak French :-)

  • Percy_Fender on March 21, 2010, 5:02 GMT

    Yes that innings was indeed a gem particularly after what seemed to be a national humiliation in the Kanpur Test when Marshall had knocked out the bat from Gavaskar's hand. Something which no Indian could have even imagined hapenning.The world had not yet seen how great a fast bowler Malcolm Marshall was, probably the greatest of all time. Gavaskar had for his own reasons stopped playing the hook shot at the Test level befor he pulled it out of his repertoire in that Delhi Test.It must be mentioned here that Vengsarkar scored a wonderful 159 as well. He had been in sublime form all through this series actually. Sunil Gavaskar went onto cross Bradman with his 30th century in the Madras Test of the same series which was a double hundered. I remember having been at Chepauk on that occasion and witnessing Sunny returning to the pavilion after the days play during which he had crossed The Don.Just short of the dressing room he handed over his bat to Jeff Dujon in a tremendous gesture.

  • knowledge_eater on March 21, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    I heard few stories from my father and grandfather about Mr. Sunny uncle, they told me he was very stubborn batsman. They told me that he didn't like when his shot was stopped by fielder. He often used to smack shot even harder at the same fielder to prove his point that "hey you don't stop my shot" Today, I enjoy his commentary especially when he does it during test match. Its like he is doing coaching commentary most of the time. To be honest, if I want to make career out of as a cricketer, I listen to his all commentary, he makes during test match and just imitate it on field. Unfortunately or fortunately I adore cricket but its too competitive for me. However, I still prefer playing than watching so teaching commentary is always priceless. Thanks for sharing Mr.Pradeep Magazine, I was glad that he survived or got bruise only from Mr.Marshall and Holding power pace bowling, which lead to his wonderful cricket career. Peace

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  • knowledge_eater on March 21, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    I heard few stories from my father and grandfather about Mr. Sunny uncle, they told me he was very stubborn batsman. They told me that he didn't like when his shot was stopped by fielder. He often used to smack shot even harder at the same fielder to prove his point that "hey you don't stop my shot" Today, I enjoy his commentary especially when he does it during test match. Its like he is doing coaching commentary most of the time. To be honest, if I want to make career out of as a cricketer, I listen to his all commentary, he makes during test match and just imitate it on field. Unfortunately or fortunately I adore cricket but its too competitive for me. However, I still prefer playing than watching so teaching commentary is always priceless. Thanks for sharing Mr.Pradeep Magazine, I was glad that he survived or got bruise only from Mr.Marshall and Holding power pace bowling, which lead to his wonderful cricket career. Peace

  • Percy_Fender on March 21, 2010, 5:02 GMT

    Yes that innings was indeed a gem particularly after what seemed to be a national humiliation in the Kanpur Test when Marshall had knocked out the bat from Gavaskar's hand. Something which no Indian could have even imagined hapenning.The world had not yet seen how great a fast bowler Malcolm Marshall was, probably the greatest of all time. Gavaskar had for his own reasons stopped playing the hook shot at the Test level befor he pulled it out of his repertoire in that Delhi Test.It must be mentioned here that Vengsarkar scored a wonderful 159 as well. He had been in sublime form all through this series actually. Sunil Gavaskar went onto cross Bradman with his 30th century in the Madras Test of the same series which was a double hundered. I remember having been at Chepauk on that occasion and witnessing Sunny returning to the pavilion after the days play during which he had crossed The Don.Just short of the dressing room he handed over his bat to Jeff Dujon in a tremendous gesture.

  • on March 21, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    It was like reading about the mystics of Indian culture while learning to speak French :-)

  • zoominyogi on March 21, 2010, 5:34 GMT

    If the innings was played in 1983...then the line should be:"I go back 27 years to an innings I ....."..and not "I go back 17 years to an innings I.........".it was 27 years not 17

  • AB99 on March 21, 2010, 6:50 GMT

    Too short am article to discuss the SMG masterpiece at New Delhi that day. I had bunked my post graduate lectures that day and did not repent it one bit. And not to mention SMG followed that with an even better 90 at Ahmedabad test till some joker walked across the sight screen and made the great man loose his concentration and wicket. The next best could be the 281 from VVS against McGrath, Gillespe, Warne and company for its sheer dominance from a hopeles situation his team was in ....

  • akpy on March 21, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    thanks for the memories..i remember watching on TV..it was a superb knock laced with some brilliant shots with the century coming up thru a stunning on drive and i think vengsarkar told sunny about reaching the landmark..sunny pretended not to look at the scoreboard...sunny has played several amazing innings, the 221 in oval, the century in a pak test carrying his bat thru when imran was going berserk, his farewell knock..if only satellite tv was there, all these guys would have become even greater..i remember holding bouncing kirmani out of frustration during his partnership with sunny in chennai..at that pace, not easy esp for sunny with just a steel cap..great batsman sunny was.

  • ram5160 on March 21, 2010, 8:50 GMT

    Dont forget that he wore NO HELMET!!!!!! I also used to enjoy his commentary for his relentless bagging of the white man. Now, cant bear to watch cricketers of his stature reduced to becoming salesmen in the IPL.

  • amit1807kuwait on March 21, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    Just a bit more nostalgia from that series of 1983-84. The Madras (now Chennai) test was probably the last one of the series, and Gavaskar, amidst some controversy had decided that he would bat at No. 4 and not open the batting. So when he came to the crease in Madras, the scorecard, duly read 0 for 2, courtesy the great West Indian fast bowlers. I am told that Viv Richards, who was at second slip, greeted Gavaskar by saying "Maan it doesnt matter what position you bat, the score of your team is still Zero!!"

  • bobkhanrd on March 21, 2010, 10:31 GMT

    Gentle correction to the posting by Majr that "when Marshall had knocked out the bat from Gavaskar's hand in Kanpur test" . Actually it happened in the second innings of the Delhi test when Gavaskar was dismissed by Marshall for 15 caught at short leg. Nonetheless the most entertaining innings by Sunny not only for that hooked six but numerous straight drives throughout the innings.

  • Pathiyal on March 21, 2010, 10:48 GMT

    Very interesting!!!!!!!!! Now if i watch the recordings of old matches, this is one person who makes me believe that cricket is not just about slogging. Each shot played by him was having an individuality of its own. Sunny's innings relax you a lot. You can just sit back, relax and enjoy those innings. His commentary is also enjoyable.