A diminutive player, Gavaskar stood at just 165 cm. After missing the First Test due to an infected fingernail, Gavaskar scored 61 and 67 not out in the second Test in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, hitting the winning runs which gave India its first ever win over the West Indies. He followed this with his first century, 116 and 64* in the Third Test in Georgetown, Guyana, and 1 and 117* in the Fourth Test in Bridgetown, Barbados. He returned to Trinidad for the fifth Test and scored 124 and 220 to help India to its first ever series victory over the West Indies, and the only one until 2006. His performance in the Test made him the second player after Doug Walters to score a century and double century in the same match. He also became the first Indian to make four centuries in one Test series, the second Indian after Vijay Hazare to score two centuries in the same Test, and the third after Hazare and Polly Umrigar to score centuries in three consecutive innings. He was the first Indian to aggregate more than 700 runs in a series, and this 774 runs at 154.80 remains the most runs scored in a debut series by any batsman. Trinidad Calypso singer Lord Relator (Willard Harris) wrote a song in Gavaskar's honour.
The 1975–76 season saw three and four Test tours of New Zealand and the West Indies respectively. Gavaskar led India in a Test for the first time in January 1976 against New Zealand during the First Test in Auckland when regular captain Bishen Bedi was suffering from a leg injury. Standing in despite having scored only 703 runs at 28.12 since his debut series, Gavaskar rewarded the selectors with 116 and 35*. As a result, India secured an eight wicket victory. He ended the series with 266 runs at 66.33. On the West Indian leg of the tour, Gavaskar scored consecutive centuries of 156 and 102 in the Second and Third Tests, both in Port of Spain, Trinidad. These were his third and fourth centuries at the grounds. In the Third Test, his 102 helped India post 4/406 to set a world record for the highest winning fourth innings score. The Indians’ mastery of the Caribbean spinners on a turning track reportedly led West Indian captain Clive Lloyd to vow that he would rely on pace alone in future Tests. Gavaskar totalled 390 runs at 55.71 for the series.
Gavaskar was not to score a century on home soil until November 1976. In an eight Test summer, three and five against New Zealand and England respectively, Gavaskar scored centuries in the first and last Tests of the season. The first was 119 in front of his home crowd at the Wankhede Stadium in Bombay, helping India to a victory. Gavaskar scored another half century in the Second Test to end the series with 259 at 43.16. In the First Test against England at Delhi, he was mobbed upon becoming the first Indian to reach 1000 Test runs a calendar year. A steady series saw him finish with 394 runs at 39.4 with a century coming in Fifth Test at Mumbai and two half centuries.
In 1977–78 he toured Australia, scoring three consecutive Test centuries (113, 127, 118) in the second innings of the first three Tests at Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne respectively. India won the third but lost the earlier two. He finished the Five Test series with 450 runs at 50, failing twice as India lost the final Test and the series 3–2.
1978–79 saw India tour Pakistan for the first series between the arch rivals for 17 years. For the first time Gavaskar faced Pakistani captain and pace spearhead Imran Khan, who described him as “The most compact batsman I’ve bowled to.” Gavaskar scored 89 in the First Test and 97 in the Second, which India drew and lost respectively. Gavaskar saved his best for the Third Test in Karachi, scoring 111 and 137 in the Third, but was unable to prevent a defeat and series loss. His twin centuries made him the first Indian to score two centuries in one Test on two occasions, and saw him pass Umrigar as India’s leading Test runscorer. Gavaskar had finished the series with 447 runs at 89.40.
Gavaskar was captain of the Indian team on several occasions in the late 1970s and early 1980s, although his record is less impressive. Often equipped with unpenetrative bowling attacks he tended to use conservative tactics which resulted in a large number of draws. During his tenure Kapil Dev emerged as a leading pace bowler for the country. He captained India to nine victories and eight losses, but most of the games were drawn, 30.
His first series in charge was a West Indian visit to India for a six Test series. Gavaskar’s several large centuries contrasted with several failures. His 205 in the First Test in Bombay made him the first Indian to score a double century in India against the Caribbeans. He added a further 73 in the second innings of a high scoring draw. After failing to score in the Second Test, he scored 107 and 182 not out in the Third Test at Calcutta, another high scoring draw. This made him the first player in Test history to achieve centuries in both innings of a Test three times. He managed only 4 and 1 in the Fourth Test in Madras as India forced the only win of the series. He posted a fourth century for the series, scoring 120 in the Fifth Test at Delhi, becoming the first Indian to pass 4000 Test runs. He aggregated 732 runs at 91.50 for the series, securing India a 1–0 win in his first series as captain.
Despite this, he was stripped of the captaincy when India toured England in 1979 for a four Test tour. The official reason given was that Srinivas Venkataraghavan was preferred due to his superior experience on English soil, but most observers believed that Gavaskar was punished because he was believed to be considering defecting to World Series Cricket. He started consistently, scoring four half centuries in five innings of the first three Tests. It was in the Fourth Test at The Oval that he produced his finest innings on English soil. India were 1–0 down needed to reach a world record target of 438 to square the series. They reached 76/0 at stumps on the fourth day. Led by Gavaskar, India made steady progress to be 328/1 with 20 overs remaining on the final day with a record breaking victory still possible. An Ian Botham lead fightback saw Gavaskar removed, with India still needing 49 runs from 46 balls. With three balls left in the match, all four results were possible. India ended nine runs short with two wickets in hand when stumps were drawn. According to Sanjay Manjrekar, it was “Vintage Gavaskar, playing swing bowling to perfection, taking his time initially and then opening up. Nothing in the air, everything copybook.” He ended the series with 542 runs at 77.42 and was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year.
The 1980–81 season saw Gavaskar returned as captain for the Australasian tour, but it was to be the start of an unhappy reign for Gavaskar and India. He managed only 118 runs at 19.66 in the three Tests against Australia, but his impact in Australia was a controversial incident. At the Melbourne Cricket Ground, when Gavaskar was given out by the Australian umpire Rex Whitehead, he ordered his fellow opener Chetan Chauhan off the field. Instead of abandoning the match, the Indian manager, SK Durani persuaded Chauhan to return to the match which India went on to win by 59 runs as Australia collapsed to 83 in their second innings. India drew the series 1–1 but the following three Test series in New Zealand were to signal the start of a barren run of 19 Tests under Gavaskar of which India were to win only one and lose five. India lost to New Zealand 1–0, with Gavaskar managing 126 runs at 25.2. He finished the Oceania tour with 244 runs at 22.18, with only two half centuries, making little impact.
The 1981–82 Indian season saw a hard-fought 1–0 series win over England in six Tests. India took the First Test in Mumbai, before five consecutive draws resulted, four of which did not even reach the fourth innings. Gavaskar made 172 in the Second Test at Bangalore and reached a half century on three further occasions to compile 500 runs at 62.5. India reciprocated England’s visit in 1982 for a three Test series, which was lost 1–0. Gavaskar made 74 runs at 24.66 but was unable to bat in the Third Test.
The 1982–83 subcontinental season started well for Gavaskar on an individual note, as he made 155 in a one off Test against Sri Lanka in Madras. It was the first Test between the two nations, with Sri Lankan having only recently been awarded Test status. Despite this, India were unable to finish off their novice opponents, the draw heralding a start of a winless summer. India played in twelve Tests, losing five and drawing seven. The first series was a six Test tour to Pakistan. India started well enough, drawing the First Test in Lahore, with Gavaskar scoring 83. Pakistan then defeated India in three consecutive matches. In the Third Test in Faisalabad, Gavaskar managed an unbeaten 127 in the second innings to force Pakistan into a run chase, but the other two losses were substantial, both by an innings. Despite holding on for draws in the last two Tests, Gavaskar was replaced by Kapil Dev as captain after the 3–0 loss. Despite his team’s difficulties, Gavaskar remained productive with 434 runs at 47.18 with a century and three half centuries. Gavaskar went on to the West Indies for a five Test tour purely as a batsman, but could not reproduce the form that he had shown in the Caribbean in 1971 and 1976. He managed only 240 runs at 30, as India were crushed 2–0 by the world champions. Apart from an unbeaten 147 in the drawn Third Test in Georgetown, Guyana, his next best effort was 32.
The 1983–84 season started with a home series against Pakistan, with all three matches being drawn. Gavaskar scored an unbeaten 103 in the First Test in Bangalore, and made two further half centuries to total 264 runs at avg. of 66. This was followed by a six Test series against the touring West Indies at the height of their powers. The First Test was held in Kanpur and India were crushed by an innings. Gavaskar had his bat knocked out of his hand by a hostile delivery from Malcolm Marshall before being dismissed. In the Second Test in Delhi, Gavaskar delivered his riposte to Marshall, hooking him for a consecutive four and six to start his innings. Gavaskar, unwilling to be dictated to by the Caribbean pacemen, hooked the short pitched barrage relentlessly, reaching his half century in 37 balls. He then went on to score 121, his 29th Test century in 94 balls, equalling Don Bradman’s world record. He also passed 8000 Test runs in the innings, and was personally honoured by Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India at the ground. The match was drawn. Gavaskar’s 90 in the Third Test at Ahmedabad saw him pass Geoff Boycott’s Test world record of 8114 career runs was insufficient to prevent another defeat. During the Fifth Test in the series, India were defeated by an innings at Calcutta to concede a 3–0 series lead. India had won only one of their 32 most recent Tests and none of their last 28. The Bengali crowd singled out the Marathi Gavaskar, who had made a golden duck and 20. Angry spectators pelted objects onto the playing arena and clashed with police, before stoning the team bus. In the Sixth Test in Madras, he compiled his 30th Test century, with an unbeaten 236 which was the highest Test score by an Indian. It was his 13th Test century and third double century against the West Indies. He had aggregated 505 at 50.50 for the series.
Gavaskar was also a fine slip fielder and his safe catching in the slips helped him become the first Indian (excluding wicket-keepers) to take over a hundred catches in Test matches. In one ODI against Pakistan in Sharjah in 1985, he took four catches and helped India defend a small total of 125. Early in his Test career, when India rarely used pace bowlers, Gavaskar also opened the bowling for a short spell on occasions if only one pace bowler was playing, before a three-pronged spin attack took over. The only wicket claimed by him is that of Pakistani Zaheer Abbas in 1978–79.
While Gavaskar could not be described as an attacking batsman, he had the ability of keeping the scoreboard ticking with unique shots such as the "late flick". His focus of technical correctness over flair meant that his style of play was usually less suited to the shorter form of the game, at which he had less success. His renowned 36 not out in the 1975 World Cup, carrying his bat through the full 60 overs against England, lead Indian supporters to storm the field and confront him. Gavaskar almost went through his career without scoring a one-day century. He managed his first (and only ODI century) in the 1987 World Cup, when he hit 103 not out against New Zealand in his penultimate ODI innings at Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground, Nagpur.
Gavaskar has also been awarded the Padma Bhushan. In December 1994 he was appointed the Sheriff of Mumbai, an honorary post, for a year. After retirement, he has been a popular, if sometimes controversial commentator, both on TV and in print. He has written four books on cricket – Sunny Days (autobiography), Idols, Runs n' Ruins and One Day Wonders. He also served as an advisor to the India national cricket team during the home series against Australia in 2004. He was the Chairman of the ICC cricket committee till the time he was forced to choose between commenting and being on the committee. He left the committee to continue his career as a broadcaster.
His son Rohan is also a cricketer who plays at the national level in the Ranji Trophy. He has played some One Day Internationals for India, but could not cement his spot in the team.
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy has been instituted in his (co-)honour.
Gavaskar also tried his hand at acting on the silver screen. He played the lead role in the Marathi movie "Premachi Saavli". The movie did not receive much appreciation though. After many years he appeared in a guest role in a Hindi movie "Maalamal". He has sung a Marathi song "Ya Duniyemadhye Thambayaala Vel Konala" which was written by noted Marathi lyricist Shantaram Nandgaonkar. The song depicted the similarities between a cricket match and real life. It had become popular.
In a notorious ODI performance in 1975, he opened the batting and managed just 36 (not out) off 174 balls (scoring just one four). Replying to England's 334 from 60 overs, India managed only 132 for 3 from the 60 overs. It was alleged that Gavaskar deliberately performed poorly in that match, due to his annoyance with the promotion of Srinivas Venkataraghavan to captaincy. He later claimed that he could not adjust to the pace of the game.
Recently, he has been involved in a string of controversies as an ICC official. He has been criticised for supporting changes in cricket rules that tend to favour batsmen. In addition, his role as the chief selector for ICC World XI also came under criticism due to some controversial selections, which resulted in one sided matches against the ICC World Champion, Australia.
On 25 March 2008, Malcolm Speed, ICC chief executive, told Gavaskar "very clearly", during a meeting between the two at Dubai, that he would have to quit his post at the ICC if he failed to give up his job of commentator and newspaper columnist, in which capacity he has frequently criticised his employers and levelled serious accusations of racism. He sparked especial controversy in early 2008 for his comments on the contentious Sydney Test Match: "Millions of Indians want to know if it [match referee Mike Procter's verdict against Harbhajan Singh] was a 'white man' taking the 'white man's' word against that of the 'brown man'. Quite simply, if there was no audio evidence, nor did the officials hear anything, then the charge did not stand." Australian writer Gideon Haigh subsequently pointed out that, if Gavaskar genuinely believed this, "then he should almost certainly resign, for if the ICC is a bastion of 'white man's justice', Gavaskar bears some of the blame for having failed to change it."
Sunil is married to Marshneil Gavaskar, daughter of a leather industrialist in Kanpur. They have a son Rohan. Sunil Gavaskar also played a heroic role in the 1993 Bombay Riots, where he sheltered a Muslim family. He also shielded victims with his body, saying "first you have to hit me" to the rioters.src;wikipedia