On 28 December 1983, Sunil Gavaskar notched-up his 30th Test century.
It was a special knock as it helped him surpass Donald Bradman’s then record of most centuries in the longest format. But the milestone was made even more special with an epic 236 not out against the West Indies in Madras (now Chennai).
The year 1983 will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Indian cricket fans. After all, the World Cup was won for the first time on the back of a win in the final at Lord’s against the finest team of that generation.
However, soon after that triumph, the beaten finalists West Indies toured India for a five-match One-Day International series and a six-match Test series. And the visitors showed their superiority by winning all five ODIs before bagging the Test series 3-0.
Despite the hammering, though, Indian fans had something to cheer about thanks to Gavaskar’s incredible batting in the Test series. The Little Master was the top-scorer with 505 runs across the six matches but more importantly, he scored two centuries that helped him go past the great Don’s long-standing record.
In the second Test of the series in Delhi, the right-hander took apart the West Indies attack, which included the legendary duo of Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding, to bring up his 29th Test ton off just 94 deliveries. He finished with 121 off 128 in that innings, with 15 fours and two sixes.
But Gavaskar’s best was saved for the final Test of the series. With India down 0-3 already, he dug in deep to deliver a knock for the ages.
West Indies won the toss and elected to bat first in the sixth Test in Madras. Wicketkeeper Jeffrey Dujon scored 62 but India rode on three-fors by Kapil Dev and Maninder Singh to bowl-out West Indies for 313.
India, though, couldn’t capitalise initially and found themselves in deep trouble at 92/5. It was then that Gavaskar, who came in to bat at No 4, got together with Ravi Shastri to bail the team out of trouble. The duo added 170 runs for the sixth wicket, before Gavaskar added 143 runs for the last wicket with Syed Kirmani, which helped India declare at 451/8 and eventually draw the match.
Gavaskar remained not-out on 236 runs off 425 deliveries, with 23 fours to his name. He spent a staggering 644 minutes at the crease and blunted the Windies attack with his patience and strokeplay. And of course, the innings marked his 30th ton in Test cricket which gave him the record for most centuries in the longest format.
Describing the knock in his book Runs ‘n Ruins, Gavaskar recounted how the opponents were not keen to celebrate his milestone.
“I reached my century just after the drinks break with a single off Davis. I was told later that none of the West Indies team, except for Richardson who shook my hand, clapped the mark. Frankly, I was not even aware of that and in any case when more than 40,000 people are clapping, one does not miss the applause of ten people. Clive at the end of the over said, ‘Well played’. I know him to be one of the nicest cricketers around who seldom gets grumpy and so his congratulations were no surprise,” he wrote.
Here’s Gavaskar sharing a wonderful anecdote from his knock of 236* against the West Indies:
Gavaskar finished his career with 34 Test hundreds to his name and since then, Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara, Rahul Dravid, Younis Khan, Brian Lara and Mahela Jayawardene have either gone past or matches his tally.
Most centuries in Test cricket
|SR Tendulkar (INDIA)||1989-2013||200||329||33||15921||248*||53.78||51||68||14|
|JH Kallis (ICC/SA)||1995-2013||166||280||40||13289||224||55.37||45||58||16|
|RT Ponting (AUS)||1995-2012||168||287||29||13378||257||51.85||41||62||17|
|KC Sangakkara (SL)||2000-2015||134||233||17||12400||319||57.40||38||52||11|
|R Dravid (ICC/INDIA)||1996-2012||164||286||32||13288||270||52.31||36||63||8|
|Younis Khan (PAK)||2000-2017||118||213||19||10099||313||52.05||34||33||19|
|SM Gavaskar (INDIA)||1971-1987||125||214||16||10122||236*||51.12||34||45||12|
|BC Lara (ICC/WI)||1990-2006||131||232||6||11953||400*||52.88||34||48||17|
|DPMD Jayawardene (SL)||1997-2014||149||252||15||11814||374||49.84||34||50||15|
|AN Cook (ENG)||2006-2018||161||291||16||12472||294||45.35||33||57||9|
Watch highlights of Sunil Gavaskar’s epic knock of 236* below: