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‘Watch me score a hundred’ — How Gavaskar bounced back from a lean patch in 1986

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Maninder Singh, the former India left-arm spinner, revealed how a determined Sunil Gavaskar, struggling for form, proclaimed that he’d score a hundred before a tour game against Somerset, and went on to do so.

Maninder, who played 35 Tests and 59 ODIs for India in the Eighties and Nineties, recalled how Gavaskar bounced back after a difficult start to his tour of England in 1986, his last overseas tour before his Test retirement the following season.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Maninder explained how Gavaskar had remained confident even through the lean patch, before hitting form at Taunton, against Somerset with an unbeaten century.

“During the 1986 tour of England, he was not scoring runs in the tour games. But I remember he used to tell Kapil Dev, ‘Don’t worry, I will give you runs when the time comes’,” Maninder said.

“What happened was the Indian press started writing him off when he wasn’t scoring in those warm-up games against the county sides. So I remember a game against Somerset, me and Kapil were coming from a fielding practice and India were batting. I was all drenched even in that winter in England. I and Kapil paaji had put in so much effort jogging, sprinting, and bowling that I was covered with sweat.

“Gavaskar before going out to bat tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Son, don’t go and change, sit in that balcony and watch me score a hundred.’ And he scored a hundred.”

Having failed to score a single half-century in his first five innings on the tour, Gavaskar hit an unbeaten 136 in the game, It kickstarted a late bloom for Gavaskar as he followed it up with a fifty in the third Test in Birmingham, and then hit back-to-back centuries against Australia and Sri Lanka at home later that year.

Maninder went on to praise Gavaskar’s immense powers of concentration, explaining how he used to be immaculate with tracking time in the nets, matching a clock for precision.

“I used to call him god of concentration,” said Maninder. “I’ll give you the reason for it. When I was in the team and used to see him go in the nets, nobody had to tell him about the last round. He used to be out of the nets, precisely after 10 minutes.

“Every time I used to look at my watch to track the time, it will always be 10 minutes from the time he went in to the time he came out, and amazingly, he never had a watch on his wrist.”

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