Sunil Gavaskar is one of test cricket's most successful batsmen, with a number of records to his name. With the maximum number of runs and the maximum number of centuries - 34 to be exact and 45 half centuries -Gavaskar played 125 Tests, 100 of them at a stretch, eclipsing Colin Cowdrey's record of 114 Tests. Of the 10,122 runs that he scored in 214 innings, he scored 5,067 in India arid 5,055 abroad.
On 7th March, 1987, he became the first player to cross the 10,000 run mark. In achieving this milestone, he broke the record of Geoff Boycott, who had scored 8114 runs in Test runs. His career best is an unbeaten 236 against West Indies made at Chennai in 1983-84. However, more fluent than this was his 121 at Delhi in the same series. Both were fine efforts and must rank among his more rewarding innings. Gavaskar himself rates his best Test innings as the 101 against England at Old Trafford in 1974. According to many critics, Gavaskar's most outstanding innings was 221 at The Oval in 1979, when India needed 438 runs for victory and more than eight hours to bat for a draw. Gavaskar, supported by Chetan Chauhan, raised 213 for the first wicket and came very close to turning the tables against the English. When seen in terms of courage, application and determination, this innings ranks as Gavaskar's most valiant effort.
He also overtook Sir Donald Bradman's record of 29 test centuries in 1983-84 when playing against the West Indies at Chennai. He not only scored his 30th Test century but also made the highest score by an Indian in a Test. Of all the opening batsmen in Test history, only six have career averages higher than Gavaskar's 52.46, but of those who batted in more than 20 innings, there are only three who beat him - Bert Sutcliff, Jack Hobbs and Len Hutton. He still holds the record for the highest number of test centuries-34.
Gavaskar has a number of records to his name achieved during his long and glittering career. He is the only player in Test history to have scored centuries in both innings as many as three times - 124 and 220 against West Indies at Port of Spain in 1971, 111 and 137 against Pakistan at Karachi in 1978-79 and 107 and 182 not out again against the Calypso Charmers at Kolkata in 1978-79. Again, he is the only batsman to he hit 1,000 runs in Test cricket in a calendar year as many as four times. In 1976, he scored 1976, he scored 1,024 runs in 11 Tests, 1,044 in nine Tests in 1978, 1,555 in 19 Tests in 1979 and 1,310 funs in 18 Tests in 1983. In his first Test series in Australia in 1977-78, Gavaskar scored three centuries in consecutive matches, all in the second innings though.
All these milestones were made possible due to Gavaskar's superior batting skills. He was a compact and determined batsman. His stance was upright and easy, allowing him to shift his balance from one foot to the other. His back-lift was precise; he raised his bat from behind the stumps. He was quick and nimble on his feet and had quick eyesight as well. His bat was straight. His knowledge on the position of the stump was exact. The most outstanding display of his skills was seen in his ability to make late and instant adjustments against swing and pace. He had a wide range of strokes and executed shots off his front foot as precisely as he played them off his back-foot. His exceptional quality as a batsman was seen in his knowledge of his limitations on a particular day. He went on to conceal them successfully before any bowler could exploit it. Time and again he had shown his dislike for the ball moving into him but then he changed his stance from an orthodox one to a two-eyed one to emerge on top. All this made him a very difficult batsman to dislodge, topped by his massive self-control, composure and complete dedication.
Yet another record held by Sunil Gavaskar is the one for captaining his country in 47 tests. He won series against the West Indies, Australia, Pakistan and England. He holds the distinction of being the first Indian captain to have won more Tests than he has lost - nine won and eight lost. About 62 percent (30 Tests) of the 47 Tests that he captained were drawn.
In a nutshell, a number of achievements and records are attributed to his name- he is the only cricketer to top score in both the completed innings of a Test on five occasions; the only cricketer to have the highest match aggregate on 36 occasions; the only cricketer to top score in 58 completed innings; only cricketer with 58 century partnership with 18 different players; highest runs (774) by a debutant; the only cricketer to hit hundreds in 3 consecutive innings twice; has scored the maximum number of runs and centuries scored by a player against West Indies - 2749 runs & 13 centuries; highest runs by any player in a series (774) against West Indies; only cricketer to score 4 consecutive centuries at 2 venues - Port of Spain and Wankhede stadium.
Gavaskar enjoys clear access to the world of commerce, which is by no means a subsidiary to him. If Gavaskar has earned a considerable amount by compiling 10,000 runs and 34 centuries, he has earned even more through television, radio, modelling, journalism and other multifarious activities. Gavaskar also has a number of Awards to his name, given in recognition of his sportsmanship. He has been the recipient of the highest honour awarded to an Indian- the Padma Bhushan award. In December 1994 Gavaskar was appointed the Sheriff of Mumbai, an honorary for a year. The Border-Gavaskar trophy has been instituted in his co-honour. Post-retirement, Gavaskar has been a popular cricket commentator both in print and on TV. He has written four books on cricket, including his autobiography, Sunny Days. Other books include Idols, Runs and Ruins and One Day Wonders. He was the chairman of the ICC cricket committee till a point was reached where he had to make a choice between commenting and being on the committee. Gavaskar has also served as an advisor to the Indian cricket tem during the home series against Australia in 2004.
Thus the achievements of Sunil Gavaskar in the world of cricket form an impressive record of cricketing and personal glory. He said his goodbyes to the game in the 1987 test at Lord's with a magnificent hundred.
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