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‘India’s most hostile bowler’ – the time India opened bowling with Gavaskar

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Sunil Gavaskar, the former India batsman and one of only three batsmen from the country to score over 10,000 Test runs, has reminisced about the time he opened the bowling for India in Tests during the 1970s.

Gavaskar, currently working as a pundit on the Australia-India Test series for Channel7, was discussing India’s fast-bowling unit, praising the bench strength they currently have at their disposal before he went on to talk about the time he opened the bowling to highlight how far the Indian set up has come in recent times.

“The bench strength for fast bowling is unbelievable,” Gavaskar said on Channel 7. “[It] may not be the same as far as spinners are concerned but when you look at the talent available as far as fast bowling is concerned, it’s just mind-boggling. You got Navdeep Saini, very quick, he generally bowls about 145kph regularly.

“He is not playing as he didn’t have a couple of good warm-up games against Australia A. Maybe that’s why Mohammed Siraj got the nod ahead of him, otherwise he would have been the first pick. He is there, there is Umesh Yadav, there are so many young fast bowlers knocking on the door of Indian international cricket. It is just unbelievable.

“Who would’ve thought that way back in the 1970s, there was this kid with slightly frizzy hair, opening the bowling for India. His name was Sunil Gavaskar. I was, at that particular point of time, India’s most hostile bowler, in attitude, not in pace but in attitude.”

All in all, in Test cricket, Gavaskar’s right-arm medium was called upon to open the bowling four times but he never picked up any wicket while heading the bowling attack. Gavaskar does have a Test wicket to his name, however, and quite a big one – that of Zaheer Abbas, the legendary Pakistan batsman. By the end of his career, Gavaskar conceded 206 runs for that sole wicket.

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