Bengaluru, June 7: Tuesday marked the 41st anniversary of the beginning of the first World Cup tournament in cricket. It was on June 7, 1975, when India took on England in a Group A match at the Lord's. The 60-over match, only the 19th in the history of limited-overs cricket, was won by the hosts by a mammoth 202 runs!
However, the most notable aspect of the match was, besides English opener Dennis Amiss's 137 off 147 balls, legendary Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar's unbeaten 36 off 174 deliveries---the innings which saw a strike rate of 20.68 and featured only one boundary.
Thanks to the unbelivably slow batting, India ended up at 132 for the loss of 3 wickets in 60 overs in reply to England's 334 for 4. Gundappa Viswanath scored the best for the Indians with 37 off 59 balls. Earlier, the English innings also saw 37-off-31 balls by skipper Mike Denness which took his team beyond 300. India was led by spinner S Venkataraghavan in the first two editions of the World Cup.
Looking back at Gavaskar's innings, the Indians were yet to get into the limited-over mould after playing years of Test cricket. India, in fact, had two horrendous World Cups in 1975 and 1979, both of which were won by the West Indies, before Kapil's Devils turned the tides in 1983 to give the game a huge boost in the country.
Writing in an era of T20 cricket (the game has indeed reduced by a third since those 60-over days), it is indeed difficult to imagine that Gavaskaresque innings of 36 off 174 balls in a limited-over cricket.
India scored less than Amiss's 137, thanks to Gavaskar's 174-ball-36
Indian cricket has come a long way since that match (two 50-over World Cups, one T20 World Cup and three U-19 World Cups have come to India in the last 41 years while it has missed the cup in the final on a few other occasions) and in a time when the Mahendra Singh Dhonis and Virat Kohlis have built the empire on the solid foundation laid by the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VV laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag, the vintage innings of Gavaskar looks anachronistic. But then, every journey to the summit did start from the ground.