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DateLine Sunday, 11 May 2008

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Gavaskar may have been a fisherman if not for vigilant relative

CRICKET: Sunil Manhar Gavaskar is a cricketer who is known the length and breadth of this world. He captained India and has played against all Test match playing countries, including Sri Lanka.

He has many records to his credit, but one record that will never be broken is his achievement of being the first batsman in the world to play 100 Tests in-a-row, when he played at Madras on September 18th 1986 against Australia in the first Test of the 1986 series. He made eight in the first innings and missed the century in the second innings by 10 runs.


Out in the middle ... Sunil Gavaskar once in the Test team played some fine knocks and established many records during his playing career.

But before getting into the Indian Test team, the cricket world may not have had the opportunity of witnessing the marvellous deeds of Sunil Gavaskar and he may not have played cricket, but ended up as a fisherman if not for the hawk-eye of a close relative after his birth on the 10th of July 1949.

Gavaskar was born in a maternity ward and this relative discovered that the wrong child was lying in the crib besides Mrs. Gavaskar. A frantic search was made and the right child was found sleeping next to a fisherwoman.

It was the three Tís that took Sunil to the top of the ladder-technique, temperament and talent.

Gavaskar thrills spectators

Sri Lankans had the opportunity of seeing him play here before he got into the Indian Test team.

He was here with the Indian Universities team in October and one particular innings that had everyone thrilled and talking about him was his superb unbeaten double-century in the second ďTestĒ against Ceylon Universities (as the team was then known) up at Peradeniya. Gavaskar made 203 not out in the Indian Universities total of 351 for one wicket declared.

That marvellous innings had him in the trials for the selection of the Indian Test team for the West Indies under Ajit Wadekar. As a 22-year-old, Sunil Gavaskar really stamped his class against these fearful West Indian bowlers and he made 774 runs in four Tests. He played several delightful knocks later on and also went on from one record to another to earn the name of ďBombay BradmanĒ.

He first surpassed former England opening batsman Len Huttonís record of 19 Test hundreds as opening batsman in the 1978-79 series against the West Indies and then went on to get to Bradmanís all-time high of 29 Test records.

Gavaskar is a modest man. Though he has plenty to talk about, he never boasts about himself. When he beat Bradmanís record of 29 Test centuries, he said: ďI would call it an achievement rather than a recordĒ. He is a likeable character to all.

8,092 runs

In the 100 Tests that he played without a break, he aggregated 8,092 runs from 171 innings, 12 times being not out. His highest score of 236 not out was made against The West Indies at Madras in 1983-84. That Sunil Gavaskar took to cricket in a big way was predictable.


Striding out to the middle ... Thatís former Indian star batsman Sunil Gavaskar who played some fine innings during Indian Universities matches when they played against Sri Lankan sides before he got into the Indian Test team.

His father was an experienced club cricketer and his uncle Madhav Mantri represented India in four Tests in the 1950s. Then Gavaskarís mother was very fond of the little fellow as any mother would be and the mother used to play tennis ball cricket with Sunil in the early days.

His mother is quite proud of Sunilís achievements and will also have another incident to remember her son. One day when mother and son were playing cricket in the gallery of their home, Sunil smacked one straight and hard and the ball caught his motherís nose. Though the old lady bled profusely, she was game, washed herself and made no fuss about it.

In Test cricket, Gavaskar had played for India 125 times and has scored 10,122 runs in 214 Test innings at an average of 51.12 and scored 34 centuries, exactly half of them against the feared pace attack of the West Indies.

His highest score was 236 not out against the West Indies at Madras in the 1983-84 season and altogether he scored four double centuries, three against the West Indies and one against England.

Gavaskar scored a century and a double century against the West Indies at Port of Spain and this followed hundreds at both Georgetown and Bridgetown in his first tour with India in 1970-71.

First to 1,000 runs

Gavaskar became the first Indian batsman to complete 1,000 runs in a calendar year of 1976. He aggregated 1,024 runs in 1976. He has completed 1,000 runs in calendar years of 1978 (1,044), 1979 (1,555) and 1983 (1,510).

He also became the sixth batsman in the world to score four centuries in consecutive Tests after Everton Weekes (West Indies), Jack Fingleton, Sir Donald Bradman, Neil Harvey (all Australia), and Ken Barrington (England). Gavaskarís four centuries are: 128 and 42 vs England at Bombay 1976-77, 3 and 113 vs Australia at Brisbane 1977-78; 4 and 127 vs Australia at Perth 1977-78; and 0 and 118 versus Australia at Melbourne 1977-78. His zero and 118 in Melbourne makes him the sixth batsman to register zero and a century in a Test.

He became the fourth batsman in the world to score a hundred on first appearance against three specific countries after Compton, Barrington of England and Zaheer Abbas of Pakistan.

Gavaskarís three first appearance hundreds are: 113 vs New Zealand at Auckland in 1975-76, 113 vs Australia at Brisbane in 1977-78 and 155 vs Sri Lanka at Madras 1982-83.

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