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'Almost Switched at Birth': 7 Little-Known Facts About Sunil Gavaskar You Probably Didn't Know

Happy birthday, Sunil Gavaskar.

Anurag Verma |

Updated:July 10, 2018, 1:58 PM IST
'Almost Switched at Birth': 7 Little-Known Facts About Sunil Gavaskar You Probably Didn't Know
Happy birthday, Sunil Gavaskar.
Over the years, the Indian cricket team has produced some of the best cricketers in the world who have inspired generations to pick up bat and ball and make a career in the game of cricket. One such great to have represented India was Sunil Gavaskar — fondly called the Little Master for his short height but very tall achievements.

Of course, there is a lot that has happened before and during Gavaskar's illustrious career that propelled him from a regular cricketer to a cricketing legend that he is today.

As cricket fans across the world celebrate Gavaskar's 69th birthday on 10 July, here's a list of little-known facts you probably didn't know about Sunny paaji.

1) Haircut during match

As bizarre as it may sound, Sunil Gavaskar remains of the rare cricketers who got a haircut from the umpire in the course of a match. Yep. Batting against England in extremely windy conditions at Old Trafford in 1974, Gavaskar was miffed with his hair blocking his sight.

As a result, Gavaskar asked the umpire, Dickie Bird, to trim his hair, while the match was on. Bird obliged and trimmed his hair with a pair of scissors he had kept to cut the threads from the seam of the cricket ball. Though India lost the match and the series, it was Gavaskar's brave 101 (apart from the haircut) that stood out.

2) Almost switched at birth

The world wouldn't have seen the greatest Test batsman if it wasn't for Gavaskar's uncle.

Sunny Gavaskar, who was born with a birthmark near his ear on July 10 was almost switched at birth with a fisherwoman's baby.

His uncle who had visited Sunny earlier had spotted the birthmark on him but during his next visit, to his horror, the baby in Sunny's crib didn't have one. After a frantic search, his uncle finally managed to locate the real Sunny who was in a fisherwoman's crib.

Recalling the incident in his autobiography, "Sunny Days", he wrote, "I may never have become a cricketer and this book would certainly not have been written, if an eagle-eyed relation, Narayan Masurekar, had not come into my life the day I was born."

"It seems that Nan-Kaka (as I called him), who had come to see me in hospital on my first day in this world, noticed a little hole near the top of my left earlobe," he added.

"The next day he came again and picked up the baby lying on the crib next to my mother. To his utter horror, he discovered that the baby did not have the hole on the left earlobe. A frantic search of all the cribs in the hospital followed, and I was eventually located sleeping blissfully beside a fisherwoman, totally oblivious of the commotion I had caused! The mix-up, it appears, followed after the babies had been given their baths," he concluded.

sunny gavaskar

Watch him narrate the incident in Gaurav Kapur's show "Breakfast With Champions": (scroll to 9:15)

3) First batsman to score 10,000 Test runs

7th March 1987 -- It was on this day way back in 1987 that the Little Master became the first batsman ever to score 10,000 Test runs. He achieved the feat in a match against Pakistan, his 124th Test.

The match, however, ended in a draw. 11th in a row between arch-rivals India and Pakistan.

In the first innings, Pakistan scored 395 runs, with Ijaz Faqih scoring 105. He got good support from Imran Khan who scored 72 runs. Shivlal Yadav was the pick of the bowlers as he claimed 4 wickets.

India, in reply, made 323 runs with Gavaskar (63) and Dilip Vengsarkar (109) doing the bulk of the scoring. It was a toil for the Indian bowlers in the final innings of the match as Pakistan scored 135 runs in 99 overs.

4) Crawled to 36 From 174 Balls

It may be raining sixes in ODI matches today, but 43 years ago, things were a little slow. 7th June 1975 -- marks the day when Sunil Gavaskar played his sluggish innings of 36 runs from a massive 174 balls in the Prudential World Cup against England.

The opener had a strike rate of 20.68, which involved just one boundary. Though the batsman remained not out in the innings, Gavaskar could not prevent India from falling to a 202-run defeat. It was the biggest ODI victory till 1984-85.

What makes his inning even more interesting is England’s Dennis Amiss scored 137 runs from just 147 balls at a strike rate of 93.19 in the same match. Chris Old had a mind of his own and scored a quick 51 off 30 balls.

(Fun Fact: During "that" tour of West Indies, 1971, Sunil Gavaskar scored an astonishing 774 runs at an average of 154 in 4 Tests)


File photo (Getty Images)

5) Did not look at the scoreboard

Notorious for not looking at the scoreboard, Gavaskar once did not celebrate a milestone. Why? Simply because he did not know. According to a report published in Free Press Journal, Gavaskar was clueless when he equalled Sir Don Bradman’s record as he scored his 29th century, a record that stood for more than three decades.


File photo (Getty Images)

Playing the 2nd Test of the 6-match series against West Indians, Gavaskar faced the ruthless Indies' attack and scored a swift 121 runs in just 94 balls, bringing up his 29th century. The crowd went berserk but Gavaskar didn't celebrate and wondered what the applause was about. However, Dilip Vengsarkar, the non-striker came to his rescue and informed him about his milestone. “Bloody hell, it is your 29th,” Vengsarkar told.

6) Acted in movie

Yes, Sunny Gavaskar played a lead part in a Marathi film, Saavli Premachi (1974) and, yes, he even danced. Don't believe us? Here you go. (Oh, btw, he was also seen with Naseeruddin Shah in the movie Malamaal.)

7) When he batted left-handed

In a bizarre yet innovative strategy to combat unplayable bowling, Sunil Gavaskar once came out and batted left-handed for an hour to save Bombay (now Mumbai) from an outright defeat, reported Open Magazine.

Karnataka Left-arm spinner Raghuram Bhatt was weaving magic on the semi-final of the 1981-82 Ranji season. With bowling figures 8/123 in the first innings, Bombay only managed to put up 271 on the scoreboard. While Karnataka piled up 470 runs.

Bombay struggling at 160 for six in their second innings on the fourth and final day of the match found a saviour in Gavaskar who came in at 7.

When the left-arm delivery was proving to be fatal for the right-handed batsmen, Gavaskar became a left-hander. Gavaskar stuck around for an hour, scored 18 and saved Bombay from an outright defeat. Karnataka, nonetheless, progressed to the final on the basis of their first innings lead.

“The ball was turning square and Raghuram Bhat was pretty much unplayable on that surface. Since he was a left-hand orthodox spinner getting the ball to turn and bounce sharply away from the right-handers, I thought that the way to counter that was by playing left handed where the ball would turn and bounce but hit the body harmlessly (without the risk of getting out leg before wicket),” Open Magazine quoted Gavaskar.

Gavaskar represented India between 1971 and 1987 in which he played 125 Tests and 108 ODIs. He scored 10,122 runs at an average of 51.12. His 34 centuries were the highest for any batsman before Sachin Tendulkar broke the record in 2005.

In 108 ODIs, he scored 3,092 runs at an average of 35.13, with just one century.

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