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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Sunil Gavaskar is born - man of many firsts WRT batting records

India's Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar
India's Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar
©Reuters

July 10, 1949 - Gavaskar is the first batsman to reach 10,000 Test runs. He remains the first and the only batsman to have scored double hundreds in each of the first, second, third and fourth innings of a Test match.

 

When Sunil Gavaskar was born, his uncle noticed a small hole near the top of his left ear lobe. When he returned the next day, the hole had miraculously disappeared. His uncle concluded that the child had been somehow exchanged and found Gavaskar, the child with a hole near his ear lobe, sleeping beside a fisherwoman.

Had the swap not been corrected, cricket would have lost a hero, perhaps, to the gain of the fishing community.

Gavaskar, who wanted to be a wrestler as a child, made his debut for India in 1971 as a 21-year-old . The man who would go on to set several records in his career, began with a record. He became the first of the only two batsmen to score a hundred and a double hundred in a single Test of his debut series. Lawrence Rowe is the second batsman to register the rare feat.

Gavaskar's 220 against West Indies at the Queen's Park Oval in 1971 made him the youngest batsman to score a double century in an overseas Test at just 21 years and 277 days. The record was previously held by Don Bradman who scored his first Test double century in the form of 254 against England in 1930 at the age of 21 years and 304 days. 

Gavaskar scored 774 runs in the four Tests of his debut series against West Indies in 1971, making the record for most runs in his debut Test series.

Gavaskar was the part of an Indian cricket team which had two deficiencies: top-drawer pace bowlers and ability of the batsmen to bat long, particularly against quality pace bowling. Gavaskar thus had to chip in on both counts.

 

 

His gentle right-arm medium pace bowling was innocuous at best but there were times when Gavaskar opened the bowling for India with the sole purpose to take its shine off for India's spin bowlers.

Gavaskar holds one of the most embarrassing records courtesy of his bowling responsibility. His Test bowling average shows a glorious 206 with Zaheer Abbas as his only Test wicket. The strike rate is not much better at 380.

Although the Mumbai batsman possessed almost all shots in the book, he hardly had the liberty to show his range due to the brittleness of the Indian middle order. This is why he trusted his watertight technique and banked on defence more often than not, scoring hundreds by tiring bowling attacks rather than flailing his willow.

He did that quite successfully with 34 Test centuries to his name - a record which stood for a long, long time. Gavaskar finished his Test career with 10,122 runs at a brilliant average of 51.12, thus becoming the first batsman to scale the 10,000-run mountain.

He still stands tall, unlike his physical attribute, at the seventh spot in the list of all-time century scorers in Test cricket. In the list of top Test run getters, the Mumbai batsman is at the 12th spot. Apart from Allan Border, there is no player who shared the era with him to feature in the list above him.

Reiterating that Gavaskar is a man of many firsts, he became the first batsman to score 1,000 runs or more in a calendar year on four occasions. Sachin Tendulkar breached the landmark six times. Brian Lara, Matthew Hayden, Jacques Kallis and Ricky Ponting have done it five times each.

Gavaskar is also the first batsman to score hundreds in successive innings twice. He was the first Indian to carry his bat through an innings and is the first batsman in Test history to score 30 hundreds. Gavaskar remains the first and only batsman to have scored double hundreds in each of the first, second, third and fourth innings of a Test match.

After retiring from international cricket in 1987, Gavaskar worked as an analyst and columnist. He also stepped into administration and held several positions with the BCCI and the ICC. Aged 71, Gavaskar is still fit and firing and is one of the most popular commentators around.

 

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