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Sunny’s memorable openings

Updated on: 10 July,2024 08:07 AM IST  |  Mumbai
A Correspondent |

As batting legend Sunil Gavaskar turns 75 today, author and writer Devendra Prabhudesai enlists the significant firsts in the former India captain’s exciting on and off-the-field cricketing journey

Sunil Gavaskar bats during the build-up to the 1984-85 series against England

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Sunny’s memorable openings

First test opening partner 

Ashok Mankad was the first of Sunil Gavaskar’s 19 opening partners in Tests. They opened in six Tests, all of them in the historic year of 1971. Gavaskar’s two-Test association with Ramnath Parkar, his second opening partner, in 1972-73, was unique, in that it constituted a rare instance of the same pair facing the new ball for its national (India), zonal (West Zone), domestic (Mumbai) and club (Dadar Union) teams.

First century

He scored the first of his 34 Test centuries – an innings of 116 - in the second Test of his career, against the West Indies at Georgetown. 12 years later, he scored his 27th Test century at the same venue. 

First double century

He scored the first of his four Test double centuries in the last Test of his maiden series against WI in 1970-71. After battling acute dental pain to score 124 in the first innings, he batted for 529 minutes in the second innings to score 220, becoming only the second batter after Australia’s Doug Walters to score a century and double century in the same Test, in the process.

Sunil Gavaskar being introduced to Queen Elizabeth in 1971Sunil Gavaskar being introduced to Queen Elizabeth in 1971

First Test as captain

When Bishan Singh Bedi, India’s new captain, was injured before the first Test against New Zealand in 1975-76, his deputy Sunil Gavaskar assumed charge and led India to victory by eight wickets. The debutant captain also scored a century. Another centurion was Surinder Amarnath, who was making his Test debut. 
Two other debutants in the game  were Dilip Vengsarkar and Syed Kirmani.

Also Read: Sunny side of the streets

First Test captain

Gavaskar’s first Test captain was Ajit Wadekar, who made his debut as India captain in the same series in which Gavaskar debuted as a player. With a record 774 runs in his maiden series, Gavaskar made a significant contribution to India’s win in the West Indies under Wadekar’s captaincy.

First book

His first book was Sunny Days, his autobiography, which was released in 1976. It was a runaway success and continues to be so, 47 years later. His subsequent books were Idols, Runs n’ Ruins, One-Day Wonders and Straight Drive.

First ODI hundred

He scored his first (and only) ODI century against New Zealand at Nagpur, in India’s last league game of the 1987 World Cup. His unbeaten 103, which took him only 88 deliveries to score, ensured that India overhauled a target of 222 in only 32.1 overs and topped their group in the process.

First film

He made his acting debut in a Marathi film called Saavli Premachi, in which he sang and danced and even ran around trees with the heroine. He was later seen in another Marathi film called Zakhol. He played himself in a Hindi film called Maalamaal.

First ICC assignment

He was the ICC’s Match Referee for one Test and five ODIs on England’s tour of the West Indies in 1993-94. He later chaired the ICC’s Cricket Committee from 2000 to 2008.

Sunil Gavaskar chats with Sachin Tendulkar for a TV showSunil Gavaskar chats with Sachin Tendulkar for a TV show

First TV series

‘Sunil Gavaskar Presents’ was a weekly TV series that showcased memorable cricket matches of the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. The first two seasons of the series were telecast on Doordarshan in 1987 and 1988 respectively, and the third was telecast on Prime Sports in 1995. In the pre-YouTube era, ‘SGP’ provided TV viewers in India with glimpses of significant matches, like the 1975 World Cup final, the Centenary Test of 1977 and India’s Test wins at the Oval and Melbourne in 1971 and 1981 respectively. The prominent guests on the show comprised Vivian Richards, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Ajit Wadekar, Mohinder Amarnath, Ravi Shastri, BS Chandrasekhar, Bishan Singh Bedi, K Srikkanth and Sandeep Patil.

Sunil Gavaskar after being felicitated by the BCCI on the 50th anniversary of his Test debut in Ahmedabad on March 6, 2021. Pics/PTI, Getty Images, mid-day archivesSunil Gavaskar after being felicitated by the BCCI on the 50th anniversary of his Test debut in Ahmedabad on March 6, 2021. Pics/PTI, Getty Images, mid-day archives

1st comic-book appearance

He starred as a superhero in ‘Sunny The Supersleuth,’ a comic-book series, in the mid-1980s. The series was the brainchild of Bharat Savur, who had been Gavaskar’s college classmate, and his wife Shalini Savur. 

The superhero has in his armoury, the Marzuki, the world’s first ‘aeromobile’ car, as well as shoes that can help him fly and a bomb tracking device. 

In the first instalment of the series, Sunny foils the plans of a terrorist outfit to blow up a stadium during a match, in the country of Bandookstan. 

In the second, he rescues Jack Gotham, the MVP of the England team that is touring India, from his kidnappers. In the third, he outwits Rangraj, the evil colour king who wants to melt the Himalayan snowcaps and drown the world.

First stint as India’s cricket manager/coach

When Ajit Wadekar, India’s cricket manager, suffered a heart attack during the Austral-Asia Cup tournament in Sharjah in April 1994, Sunil Gavaskar took a break from his commentary commitments and guided the team for the remainder of the tournament.

The year Sunil Gavaskar first captained India albeit as a stand-in leader for regular skipper Bishan Singh Bedi, who was injured for the Auckland Test

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