This day, 50 years ago, Sunil Manohar Gavaskar made his debut for India in the second Test against the mighty West Indies at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
Born in Bombay (now Mumbai), Gavaskar was named India’s ‘Best Schoolboy Cricketer’ in 1966 while he played for St. Xavier’s High School. After a successful season of school cricket, where he scored a couple of double tons and a century, Gavaskar made his first-class debut for Vazir Sultan Colts XI in 1966/67. While he was in Mumbai’s dreaded Ranji Trophy squad for two years, he did not get a single game. He finally made his Ranji debut against Karnataka in 1968-69, albeit with a duck. However, he scored a bunch of centuries to secure a place in the Indian squad for the 1970-71 tour the West Indies.
The rest is history. In a national career that spanned 16 years, the ‘Little Master’ broke many records, helping the Indian cricket team scale new heights.
> He broke Sir Donald Bradman’s record of 29 Test centuries and ended up scoring the new record for the most Test centuries (34). This record was in turn broken by Sachin Tendulkar in 2005.
> Gavaskar scored the most runs by any player in one series (774) against the West Indies.
> He remains the only player to score four consecutive tons at two venues: Port of Spain, Trinidad and the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.
> In the fielding department, he was the first Indian fielder (other than wicket-keepers) to take hundred catches in Test cricket.
> Gavaskar captained the national Test side between the 1975–76 and 1984–85 seasons (nine wins, eight loses and 30 draws), with some intervals. He was also the Indian skipper in ODIs between 1980 and 1985 (win record of 40 percent), with intervals.
> The bilateral Test series India plays against Australia is called ‘Border-Gavaskar Series’, in honour of Gavaskar and former Australian captain Allan Border.
> He was one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1980 alongside Joel Garner, Graham Gooch, Derek Randall and Brian Rose.
> ‘Sunny’, as he is often called by his fellow commentators, was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2009.
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