Bengaluru, July 8: Indian cricket fans still remember with disbelief the 36 not out that the great Sunil Gavaskar had made in the first ever match at the cricket World Cup in 1975. The former opener had taken 174 balls to make those runs as India were chasing 335 runs against hosts England in 60 overs. Was he playing for a draw, ask supporters of a side that have one of the best ODI playing XI in current times.
However, that 174-ball 36 is not the only snail-paced knock that Gavaskar had played at the World Cup. He had another such innings in the next World Cup in 1979 on the same English soil and this time, the opponents were New Zealand.
It was the eighth ODI innings for Gavaskar, aged 30 then. The match took place at Leeds and India had already lost one game versus the West Indies. Kiwi skipper Mark Burgess won the toss and sent India to bat first. Gavaskar, who had scored eight off seven balls against the Caribbeans, soon launched his epic and he managed to score a fifty (55), his first ODI half-century against a Test-playing nation, but he took as many as 144 balls!
India were off to their slowest start ever with Anshuman Gaekwad, Gavaskar's opening partner, scoring 10 off 31 deliveries. Gavaskar hit only five boundaries in his innings at batted at a strike-rate of 38.19. He never showed the intent to accelerate the scoring in a match that India had to win to stay relevant in the tournament.
Even newcomer Kapil Dev made a 24-ball 25 towards the end and Karsan Ghavri 20 off 22 but India were all out for only 182 in the 56th over. Gavaskar himself had departed when the team's score was 153, which means he didn't seek to bat deeper either.
The Kiwis too played slow but eventually won the match with eight wickets and three overs to spare. Opener Bruce Edgar was adjudged the man of the match for his unbeaten 84 off 167 balls.
Gavaskar got an opportunity to mend things eight years later when he slammed his first and only ODI century against the same opponents in yet another World Cup (1987). In Nagpur, the former batting maestro scored 103 not out off just 88 balls to give Indian an emphatic win and ensure that they did not meet arch-rivals Pakistan in the semi-finals. It was also his second last innings in the ODIs.