June 7: The day Sunil Gavaskar took 'tuk tuk’ a little too seriously

When Indian veteran batsman forgot what format he was playing during the inaugural 1975 World Cup


Abdul Majid June 07, 2016
PHOTO COURTESY: ESPNCRICINFO

The World Cup turns 41 today and contrary to modern belief, the event has not always been as glamorous as it is today.

The event has come a long way since its first edition. In 2015, the event saw two double tons (one each from Martin Guptill and Chris Gayle) for the first time in its history. But the first-ever match of the inaugural event was nowhere close to such a spectacle.

Its first edition was played in 1975 with India taking on hosts England, East Africa pitted against New Zealand, Australia facing Pakistan and Sri Lanka playing against West Indies on June 7.

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Former Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar, who is remembered today for his near-perfect technique, did something very unusual in the match against the Three Lions -- something he can't quite explain himself to this day.

PHOTO COURTESY: ESPNCRICINFO

England came in to bat first and courtesy Dennis Amiss’ 137 scored 334-4 in their allotted 60 overs. Syed Abid Ali of India came out as the most successful bowler with two wickets to his name in 12 overs.

In reply, India sent Gavaskar and Eknath Solkar to open the chase. Solkar fell for eight runs while Gavaskar kept blocking whatever was bowled his way (reminds one of Misbahul Haq when he is on his blocking streak).

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India lost their second wicket at 50 with Anshuman Gaekwad dismissed for 22, but Gavaskar kept standing between the stumps and the ball with the willow in his hand.

After a while, the new ball had faded away and everyone expected some action but nothing was delivered by Gavaskar except defence. The temperature of the Indian dressing room and spectators started rising and they didn’t shy away from displaying their frustration.

PHOTO COURTESY: THE CRICKETER INTERNATIONAL

"Dejected Indians were pathetically pleading with him to die fighting," Cricketer reported on the innings. "Their flags hung limp in their hands. It was a perverse moment of self-inflicted shame."

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Gavaskar then ended the Indian innings on 132-3 and his personal contribution was 36 runs off 174 balls with only one boundary to his name.

Indian team manager GS Ramchand tried to defend Gavaskar’s refusal to even try and chase the target by saying the right-hand batsman had considered the target of 335 impossible to chase and had thus resorted to practice.

"I do not agree with his tactics but he will not be disciplined," Ramchand had said in a post-match statement.

However, after two days, Ramchand surrendered to the frustration and went all guns firing against Gavaskar.

"It was the most disgraceful and selfish performance I have ever seen… his excuse [to me] was, the wicket was too slow to play shots but that was a stupid thing to say after England had scored 334,” he had said. “The entire party is upset about it. Our national pride is too important to be thrown away like this."

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After the dismal performance in the first-ever match of, what promised to be, a glorious World Cup, Gavaskar stayed silent on the matter. He broke his silence after some years and admitted it was the worst innings of his life.

PHOTO COURTESY: THE CRICKETER INTERNATIONAL

"It is something that even now I really can't explain,” Gavaskar had said. “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."

"There were occasions I felt like moving away from the stumps so I would be bowled," he added. "This was the only way to get away from the mental agony from which I was suffering. I couldn't force the pace and I couldn't get out."

PHOTO COURTESY: ESPNCRICINFO

Gavaskar later went on to represent India in 108 ODIs and scored 3,092 runs at an average of 35.13 courtesy one ton and 27 half tons.

Here is how England fared in the first innings


Other results

On the same day, Australia beat Pakistan by 73 runs courtesy Dennis Lillee’s five-for. New Zealand battered East Africa by 181 runs and Sri Lanka were beaten by the eventual tournament winners West Indies by nine wickets.

COMMENTS (3)

Point | 5 years ago | Reply When Misbah Ul Haq played defensive. He was at grease with 5-6 wickets down with a very low score and had some skills and tactics to add to runs but in a slow way and settle down. Misbah used to make something out of every game. Gavaskar doesn't even reach 5% of the skills Misbah have. Had it been a Pakistani player, it would have now known as the worse spot-fixing. Yet for india even biggest spot-fixing is can be termed as just practicing in live game since indian team accepted it's failure from 1st over. Born to accept failure
Irfan_Sydney | 5 years ago | Reply It was the very first match in the first world cup. Gavasker was not aware of the rules and was playing for a draw.
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