(Last Updated on : 17/07/2014)
Gundappa Viswanath was born on 12 February 1949, in Bhadravathi, of the state of Karnataka
, in India. He was one of the marvellous batsmen of Indian cricket
, known for finesse in late-cut strokes. This talented right-hand batsman was versed in the batting art of combating against pace and spin balls, coming in his way. Indeed, Gundappa, the veteran cricketer, had the habit of utilising his excellent footwork, to ward off spin-puzzles.
He functioned as a Test cricketer for India since 1969 to 1983. 91 times he emerged on the field, and accumulated a run aggregate above 6000 runs. He had participated in One-Day Internationals from 1974 to 1982, encompassing even the World Cup Championships of 1975 and 1979. He had represented the state of Karnataka, all through his career.
Gundappa had the diligence to hit a century on his very Test debut against Australia at Kanpur
in 1969. He had the sharpness of wit to analyse the opponents trap. Thus, he did a duck (avoiding a seemingly threatening ball by not hitting it) in this first match. He is one among the three batsmen, who had applied this ready wit in their respective first matches. Gundappa has a history of 14 glorious centuries in his Test-cricket experience.
Interestingly, not a single century was scored in a match, which ended in a defeat. This man loved challenges. He had especially, demonstrated his prowess to achieve his best on tough pitches. Many of his renowned innings were vital for the team well-being. Statistics, give a glimpse of his extraordinariness. He had retained a high batting average of 50 and above, against the formidable pace bowlers of the Australia and the West Indies.
Gundappa reached the acme of perfection, during the mid-1970s. His innings against the West Indies at Chennai
, in 1974-75, is highly celebrated. He struck a brilliant 97 not out, fighting valiantly against the aggressive bowling of Andy Roberts. This golden feat is at times valued more than his centuries, because it catapulted India to the zenith of victory. The Wisden 100 (a statistical study of individual Test match deeds) conducted in 2001, crowned it the 38th best innings, till recent times, and the second best recorded non-century.
Gundappa had the ability to retain composure and steadiness, even when in dire straits. Earlier, his remarkable victory-finalising century in the Test at Kolkata
(previous Kolkata), will continue to be a cricket-lover's delight.
Viswanath sustained his fiery form. In 1975-76, he again outsmarted the powerful West Indies. Most memorable is his fate-deciding 112, obtained at Port of Spain, which precipitated to the chasing and the hitting of the target of 403.
West Indies got thwarted with the tossing storm called Gundappa Viswanath. In 1978-79 at Madras, India and the other team of West Indies, witnessed a magnificent 124 out of a total of 255. India forged ahead to attain a 1-0 series victory in the 6-match series.
Viswanath was appointed as the Indian captain in 1979-80, for a very short term. In the 2 Tests he supervised the team as the captain, one concluded to a draw, and the other, the Golden Jubilee Test against England, to a loss.
Viswanath, the human being, adhered to morality, both in life and on the field. In the Golden Jubilee Test, he set an example of ethical truthfulness, by calling back Bob Taylor of England to the crease, (since he was not out) even after the umpire had declared him as out. Taylor turned out to be the agent of England's victory over India, in that particular match.
Viswanath bade a farewell to the cricketer's career in 1983. However, he kept up his intimacy with cricket through other bonds. He was recruited as a match referee by the ICC from 1999 to 2004.
In personal life, Gundappa Viswanath is a close kin of his professional colleague, Sunil Gavaskar
. He is married to the sister of Gavaskar. Gundappa Vishwanath, veracity, and commitment personified, is an inspiration, for the posterity of cricketers. He has shown how the team can be saved in the face of impending danger, without compromising on ethical values.
Especially memorable was an unbeaten, match winning 97 against a rampaging Andy Roberts at Madras in 1974-75. Viswanath often excelled on pitches others found difficult; His match winning 124 out of 255 on another fiery, bouncy Madras wicket against West Indies in 1978-79, and innings of 83 and 79 against New Zealand on a Christchurch green top in 1975-76 unveils this truth. He played the game in its true spirit.
Viswanath was awarded Col. C K Naidu Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 by BCCI which is one of the highest awards given in Indian cricket.