Little master Sunil Gavaskar has relived the moment of his debut and said that he was over the moon after getting the news. He termed the 1980 Chennai Test as his most favourite of his career, while he rated the 2008 India-Australia Perth Test as the one he enjoyed the most after his retirement.
In a glorious career spanning over 16 years, the diminutive opener went on to achieve many a record. The first to score more than 10,000 runs in Test cricket and the highest centurion for a pretty long period, Sunil Gavaskar, made himself the icon of classical cricket in the 20th century.
Reliving the debut in 1971 against West Indies in their own turf, in which he had scored a total of 774 runs in the series, Gavaskar said in an exclusive interview to The Hindu, “When I was told I was going to play in the second Test at Queens Park Oval, I was over the moon with joy. It was after all, the coming true of a dream of playing for India.”
He also added, “At the same time there was the awareness that the job had just started and I had to justify being in the team. I wore the India cap for the first time that day even though I had been given the cap as part of the kit before leaving for the tour.”
After achieving the national jersey, the Mumbaikar scored runs everywhere in the world and changed the face of Indian batting. He went on to score 10,122 runs at an average of 51.12 with 34 centuries, 45 half centuries in 125 Tests.
Gavaskar recalled the 1980 Chennai Test against Pakistan in which Kapil Dev showed his all-round prowess to give India the victory.
Gavaskar said, “The best Test match that I played in has to be the Chennai match against Pakistan in 1980 and India won the series 2-0. Kapil Dev bowled superbly to capture seven wickets and then he played a brilliant knock of 84 that took the fight out of the Pakistanis.’’
He termed the 2008 India-Australia Perth Test as the Test that he would go on to remember post his retirement.
Gavaskar said, “The Test match that I enjoyed most after retirement was the Perth Test in 2008. This was the Test after the clash between Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh in Sydney and all the brouhaha that followed.”
He added, “The Australian media tried to put the scare in the team by suggesting that Shaun Tait, bowling on the fastest pitch in Australia would knock the Indians over. Instead Virender Sehwag blasted him and Rahul Dravid showed such a broad bat that Tait decided to retire from Test cricket after that game and focus only on the shorter formats. India’s seam bowlers used the conditions superbly with R.P. Singh bowling some great overs. Anil Kumble’s strong leadership came through as the Indians triumphed on what was seen as Australia’s fortress.’’