Sunil Gavaskar birthday special: Flashback 166 v Pakistan Chennai 1980
The little master turns 72 today. The Indian cricket fans of the 1970-80s generations will never forget his massive powers of concentration, impeccable technique & temperament, flawless defence, quality strokeplay and above all batting without a helmet against some of the most hostile fast bowlers ever played the game. The very first cricketer to have reached the ” Everest” of 10000 test runs and the first batsman to go past Don Bradman’s record of 29 test 100s. With 10122 test runs at 51 average in 125 tests and 34 test centuries he was arguably the greatest Indian batsman to have played the game till Tendulkar took Indian batting to another level.
Here we go into flashback mode and recollect the memories of his epic Sunil Gavaskar birthday special: Flashback 166 v Pakistan Chennai 1980. An innings which laid the foundation of India’s much-awaited series win vs Pakistan in 1979-80.
Gavaskar 166 v Pakistan Chennai 1980
India under Gavaskar’s captaincy was leading the test series 1-0 with a win in the Mumbai test. But Pakistan was dominating in the Kanpur test which got weather-affected. Hence Pakistan was still 0-1 down and was expected to come back hard at India at Chennai.
Pakistan batted first and looked in a hurry as they got all out for 272 on a great batting pitch with Kapil Dev. Ghavri getting 7 wickets together.
In reply, India was circumspect with Gavaskar bringing in all his powers of concentration. However, wickets fell regularly at the other end with Chauhan, Vengsarkar, Viswanath and debutant Patil went back to the pavilion. At 160/4 Pakistan was in the ascendancy with India still 112 behind.
However, the little master was in full control and batting with immense powers of concentration. Imran Khan looked ominous after missing previous test and bowled quick while Sikander Bakht and Iqbal Qasim bowled with discipline. However, with his unflappable concentration, Gavaskar defended solidly but did not miss any scoring opportunities. Rotating the strike and cutting and driving the loose deliveries beautifully as well as tucking it fine down legside. Pakistani bowlers seem to have no idea how to pierce his defences.
He had a long stand with Yashpal Sharma who scored a dogged 46. However, the run rate increased with the arrival of Kapil Dev with whom Sunny had a partnership of 60 runs. Before finally played a tired shot to Imran and was dismiss for captains knock of 166 off 373 balls with 16 fours and 1 six after batting over 9 hours. Finally, he got a 100 in that series after being defied in the first 4 tests.
India reached 430 in their 1st innings with Kapil Dev hitting 84 and Binny a useful 42. Imran Khan bowled with great stamina getting 5/114 off 38 overs but could not dislodge the great Gavaskar cheaply.
Kapil Dev with 7 wickets in the 2nd innings ensured that Pakistan struggle scoring 233. Thus did not learn anything from their first innings indisciplined batting leaving India to get only 78 to win. Which they duly got and won by 10 wickets with Gavaskar staying 29 not out.
Therefore along with Kapil’s heroics, it was Gavaskar’s 9-hour marathon with unflappable concentration that won India the Chennai Test and the series by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead with one more test to go.
That was Sunil Gavaskar, one of the finest Indian batsmen in test cricket. He also scored around 3000 plus runs in ODIs with one century. As he celebrates his 72nd birthday we wish him a great year ahead and many more enjoyable and healthy years .