Born on 10 July, 1949 at Bombay. Only 5’4” tall, ‘Sunny’ Gavaskar is arguably one of the finest opening batsmen of all time and was a fine slip fielder. He made his debut in the second test of the 1970-71 tour to the Caribbean Islands, having missed the first due to a finger infection caused by excessive nail-biting. Scoring 774 runs in that victory series, he established himself firmly in the opener’s slot till he retired, while still in top form, after the 1986-87 home series against Pakistan. Gavaskar made an inauspicious – and controversial - one-day debut during the inaugural Prudential World Cup of 1974, when he scored a snail’s-pace 36 n.o. in 60 overs against England. Ironically, his penultimate innings in one-day internationals was a 95-ball hundred in the World Cup of 1987, at Nagpur.
Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1980, Gavaskar has been conferred with the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. A right-handed batsman with a near perfect technique and a solid defence, he preferred playing in the ‘V’. His straight drives, square drives and the flick-to-leg were worth going miles to see. After being frustrated by the slippery pace of Malcolm Marshall, in the home series of 1983-84 against the West Indies, Gavaskar showed that he could play the hook, pull and square cut with equal authority and went on to score his 29th and 30th centuries. He thus surpassed Sir Donald Bradman’s record of 29 test hundreds. In 125 tests, he scored 10,122 runs at an average of 51.12 with 34 hundreds, 45 fifties and a highest score of 236 n.o. He also claimed one wicket, that of the legendary Zaheer Abbas. In 108 one-day internationals, he scored 3,092 runs at an average of 35.13 and a highest score of 103 n.o. After he retired from tests, he played for the World Eleven against MCC at Lord’s, in the MCC Bicentenary match in 1987 and scored a big hundred. A captain with a rather defensive outlook, he led India to a few test wins, but excelled in the World Championship of Cricket in 1985 to stamp India’s authority on one-day cricket of the mid 1980’s.
Gavaskar, the living legend of Indian sport, has served as the Sheriff of Mumbai and is now an accomplished journalist, writer and commentator. A brother-in-law of the other batting legend, G.R. Vishwanath, his son Rohan plays for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy and has represented India ‘A’ in international matches.