It would have taken something extremely horrendous from India, for a depleted West Indies side to beat India in the ongoing 5-match ODI series. MS Dhoni delivered just that by scoring 54 from 114 balls. To be fair to the ex-India captain, he had the match under control until the last few overs, but given his experience and shot-making ability, he should have looked to finish things off with several overs to spare. Fortunately, the match wasn’t of much value, and India will probably win the series in the fifth ODI. Still, the sad nature of the result would be hurting Dhoni.
For us, it makes us go back to 1975 World Cup, where Sunil Gavaskar had scored a 174-ball 36 while chasing 335 set by England. “It is something that even now I really can’t explain. If you looked back at it, you’d actually see in the first few overs some shots which I’d never want to see again – cross-batted slogs. I wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect of playing non-cricketing shots and I just got into a mental rut after that,” Gavaskar was quoted as saying by ESPN Cricinfo.
Gavaskar’s excuse for batting so slow was that he thought the target was beyond reach, and he just looked to avoid a collapse and save India some embarrassment. Certainly he failed in reaching that goal, since the knock is now ranked highly in Indian Cricket’s hall of shame.
He wasn’t the only Indian batsman to bat slowly – credit must be given to English bowlers for this. Eknath Solkar scored just 8 runs from 34 balls, while Brijesh Patel could manage only 16 in the 57 deliveries he faced. Tony Greig was England’s most expensive bowler, as he conceded 26 runs from 9 overs which was much better than India’s most economical bowler S Venkatraghavan who could manage figures of 41 from 12 overs.
That was not the only thing worth remembering about the match – it was also the first match of the first ever Cricket World Cup.
All said and done, we still love Sunil Gavaskar. He was without doubt one of the greatest Indian batsman to have played the game, and inspired a generation of cricketers. You need to also note that he played during an era which had a lot of legendary fast bolwers – Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, to name a few. He was also the batsman with most number of Test hundreds (34), before Sachin Tendulkar broke that record.