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When Rohan Kanhai wanted Sunil Gavaskar to reach three figures

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar has shared an anecdote from his debut Test series in 1971, claiming that a member of the opposition, Rohan Kanhai, the former West Indian batsman, wanted him to reach three figures.

While in conversation with Gaurav Kapur on 22 Yarns with Gaurav Kapur, Gavaskar said Kanhai encouraged him to maintain his composure and get to his century, even though the two were playing for different teams.

The then 21-year-old Gavaskar took the cricketing world by storm when he amassed 774 runs against West Indies, in his first series as a Test cricketer. In four Tests, the former Indian batsman scored three half-centuries and four centuries, one of which was a double hundred.

To top it all, Gavaskar would go on to name his son Rohan, after the West Indian batsman.

“Apart from his batsmanship, the way Rohan encouraged me – if I played a bad shot in my debut series, while walking from slip to the other end, he would whisper ‘concentrate’ or ‘don’t you want a hundred?’

“Like if I was batting on 70-80 and played a bad shot, or chased a ball outside off-stump, or played and missed, [he’d say]: ‘What’s the matter with you? Don’t you want a hundred?’ And he is in the opposition. He’s not swearing at me, not abusing me. He actually wanted me to go on and get a 100. Unbelievable!

“And then in the evenings when you met him, despite being in the opposition, he was very, very encouraging. One of the nicest guys you can meet, so naming my son ‘Rohan’ was a no-brainer.”

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