When South Africa scored 438 while chasing in a 50-over game in 2006, they had performed the unthinkable. India were not given much of a chance for chasing the same total even across two days in a Test match back in 1979. Especially against a bowling lineup comprising a new-ball pair of Bob Willis and Ian Botham.

A second innings hundred by Geoffrey Boycott had put England out of sight. Being the last of the four-Test series, the pressure was on India to force a result, being 0-1 down. The only consolation that India had was that the Oval wicket eases out over the last two days. A quality batsman, once set, can go on to make a big score. Some wise old-timers in the game often say that in a chase, it is the opening partnership that sets the tone.

With Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan, India got just that. A 213-run first wicket stand set them on course. Gavaskar also got ample support from his Mumbai teammate, Dilip Vengsarkar, who came in at No. 3. They shared a 153-run stand. India were just 100 runs away from the target with world-class batters to come.

Gavaskar was at his pugnacious best: He was severe when the ball was angled into his pads and waited for the bowlers to pitch it full or drag it slightly short. Even the short-pitched stuff had little effect on the Indian opener, who used his supple wrists to manoeuvre the ball through the vacant spaces.

Gavaskar was poised to take his team to a famous win. He had scored more than 50% of his team's runs. Within 90 minutes, Willis, Botham and Peter Willey helped the home side claw their way back. India lost their middle order – Kapil Dev, Gundappa Viswanath and Yashpal Sharma – and the crucial wicket of Gavaskar during that phase.

The Little Master was given a standing ovation when he departed. India needed 15 from the last over of the day, they just got six. The match was drawn and England won the series.