Against the tall West Indian bowlers, a 5 foot 5 inch Little Master rewrote history with nothing but his bat. In his first Test series itself, Sunil Gavaskar announced himself with swashbuckling knocks that are still celebrated as one of the best.
Playing against the West Indians was always a challenge in those times, facing against those tall quickies was a nightmare for every batsman and not mention their batting was also one of the best. Amidst all these, Gavaskar made his Test debut on the Caribbean tour of 1971. In his first match he scored half-centuries in both innings (65 & 67*) to hand India their first win against West Indies in their backyard. The opener didn’t end his hunger for runs, in his second Test he notched up his first ton and yet again backed it up with an unbeaten half-century in the 2nd innings. Gavaskar had made a dream start to his Test career with a 50+ score in his first 4 innings he played.
Gavaskar had piled up 774 runs by the end of his debut series, that too against a fierce West Indian side in their own backyard, he had scores of (65 & 67*), (116 & 64*), (1 & 117*) and (124 & 220). In his debut series itself, he set records that are yet to be broken. The 774 runs he scored is the most by an Indian in a series and the most by a batsman against West Indies till date. He is still the only Indian batsman to score a century and a double century in the same match. The seven 50+ scores he scored is the joint-most in a series against West Indies. By virtue of his successful entry to the Test arena, India won their first Test series against West Indies.
However, Gavaskar couldn’t carry the reputation he created in his debut series when he toured England, he could manage only two half-centuries. His first home series was also huge failure as he scored only 224 runs in the 10 innings he played. Gavaskar went through a dip after his prosperous debut series.
Following a bad phase, Gavaskar struck form on the New Zealand tour in 1976 when he scored 266 runs at an average of 66.5 and then he followed it up against West Indies at home. The year 1976 was a year of reckoning as he scored 1000+ runs in the calendar year, the first Indian to achieve that feat. There on, he became unstoppable, racking up runs at will.
Gavaskar treated everyone with exceptional knocks. His century in the 4th innings at Port of Spain in 1976 saw India chase down a target of 406, which held the record for the highest chase till 2003. One more of his famous knocks came against England when he scored 221 at The Oval in 1979, though this match ended as a draw, this would go down as one of the thrilling nail-biters as India fell short by just 9 runs chasing 438. Not to mention his highest score of 236* against West Indies at Chennai in 1983, this was one of the most special ones as he etched his name in the history books when he went past the great Sir Donald Bradman in terms of hundreds made. Before he achieved this feat, in the third Test in Ahmedabad, Gavaskar surpassed Geoffrey Boycott for the most runs when he scored a 90 and was personally honored by Indira Gandhi, The Prime Minister of India at that time.
Sunil Gavaskar’s ended his Test career with 34 centuries and 10122 runs, he was also the first batsman to reach the 10K mark in Tests. On March 21st 1971, a foundation was laid to an illustrious career in Tests. However, his ODI career wasn’t that significant as he scored only 3092 runs in the 108 matches he played with only 1 century.
RECORDS SET BY GAVASKAR
He became the first batsman to score 10K runs in Tests. He achieved the feat against Pakistan in 1987
He scored 774 runs in his debut series which is the most by an Indian in a series till date. This is also the most runs scored against West Indies in a series in Tests
He is the only cricketer to score 4 consecutive centuries at 2 venues – Queen’s Park Oval & Wankhede Stadium
Gavaskar has scored 2749 with 13 centuries against West Indies, which is the most by a batsman against them in Tests
Gavaskar is the only Indian batsman to score a century and a double century in the same match. Against West Indies in 1971 (124 & 220)
Among Indians who have scored more than 1000 runs in a calendar year in Tests, Gavaskar average of 91.6 in 1978 is the best
Gavaskar has scored centuries in both innings of a match thrice. He joins an elite group of three batsmen who have achieved the feat including him. Ricky Ponting and David Warner are the other two
Gavaskar’s 221 against England at The Oval in 1979 is the highest score by an Indian on English soil till date
The 774 runs that Gavaskar scored in his debut series is also the most by a debutant