June 7, 1975 will always be a historic day for cricket. This was the day when the first-ever match in World Cup cricket history was played. However, for Indian cricket fans, it will remain a sore memory as it remains the worst-ever innings in all ODIs.
England batted first and scored 334 runs for 4 wickets and were driven primarily by Dennis Amiss, who scored a ton. He was supported by Keith Fletcher (68) and Chris Old (51*). However, in response India never got going as Sunil Gavaskar assumed that the target was beyond their reach and did not even make any attempt to chase down the total. The team was blasted as India limped to 132 for 3 off their stipulated 60 overs. Gavaskar played one of the slowest ODI knocks, as he carried his bat through the innings to score an 36 off 174 balls with just 1 four.
The decorated India opener was jeered right through his innings by Indian fans in the stadium who were befuddled by this approach. Such were the scenes that as the innings drew to a close, few Indian supporters raced onto the field to remonstrate with Gavaskar.
Gulabrai Ramchand, who was former captain of India and the manager of the side during the World Cup, went on to say that such an approach was never discussed but then quickly went on to add Gavaskar would not be reprimanded and he would not be held accountable for such a feeble performance.
Years later, Srinivas Venkataraghavan was more outspoken told Shekhar Gupta “It left a very, very bad taste. He let the team down, the spectators down, the spirit of the game down. I don’t know what happened to him.”
As a matter of fact, Gavaskar did comment on this entire episode when he spoke about this in his book in Sunny Days: “There were occasions I felt like moving away from the stumps so I would be bowled. This was the only way to get away from the mental agony from which I was suffering. I couldn’t force the pace and I couldn’t get out. Towards the end I was playing mechanically.”