Gundappa made his Test debut in 1969 at Kanpur against Australia and went on to score 6080 runs.

Gundappa ViswanathBCCI
news Cricket Friday, February 12, 2021 - 13:56

Gundappa Viswanath, the former Indian cricketer who was regarded as one of the best batsmen during his era, is celebrating his 72nd birthday on Friday. Also known as ‘Vishy’, he was born in Mysore on February 12, 1949. He made his Test debut in 1969 in Kanpur against Australia and went on to represent the country in 91 Tests, scoring 6080 runs. He also represented India in 25 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), including two ICC World Cups in 1975 and 1979.

A right-handed batsman, he played in the middle order and was known to be ‘a cricket connoisseur’s dream to watch’. Possessing strong wrists, he used them to great effect in playing his favourite shot, the late cut, which was a treat to the eyes.

Here are six interesting facts to know about him:

> Diminutive stature: During his growing-up years, Viswanath had to face many obstacles due to his short height and lean frame. A selector of Karnataka state junior cricket team had even mentioned that he was “too short” to play cricket. However, despite these hindrances, Viswanath was finally selected for India and he celebrated in style by scoring a century on Test debut. Later, when he was selected for the Karnataka Ranji Trophy team, he scored an unbeaten double century on debut.

> Test debut: His Test debut didn’t start in the perfect manner as he scored a duck in his first innings. However, advice from his skipper Tiger Pataudi who told him to relax, did wonders for him and Tiger also predicted that Viswanath would score a century in the second innings. His prediction came true as Viswanath scored 137 runs in the second innings and became the first cricketer to score a duck and a century on his Test debut.

> Gentleman captain: Viswanath captained India in two Tests and one of them was the Golden Jubilee Test against England in 1979-1980. During that match, Viswanath had recalled English player Bob Taylor to the crease when he had felt that the umpire had made a wrong decision. This decision went on to cost India the match as Taylor went on to score crucial runs, but earned Vishwanath accolades from everyone. For him, the spirit of the game always remained paramount.

> Lucky mascot: Vishwanath was the team’s lucky mascot as India never lost a test match when he scored a century. His first test hundred ended in a draw while the rest of his 13 hundreds all ended in victories for India.

> Epic run-chase: Vishwanath played a major role in India’s epic run-chase against the West Indies in 1976 in Trinidad when the team chased down a mammoth 403, a record at the time. Vishy scored a brilliant 112 and aided by useful contributions from Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath, India recorded what was then the most successful run-chase in Test history.

> Crisis man: Throughout his career, Vishy always rose to the occasion and played significant knocks when the situation demanded. One of his most memorable knocks came against the West Indies at Madras in 1974-1975 and his unbeaten 97 in that match played a major role in India’s victory. It was ranked as the second best non-century innings by Wisden.

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