Flashback 1983: When Little Master Sunil Gavaskar overtook the Don


Sunil Gavaskar was one of the greatest Indian batsmen of all time and certainly the most successful one from his era. His game was built around a bookish technique and enormous concentration. Before Sachin Tendulkar took apart attacks, India had produced the original “Little Master” in the early seventies who brought them a lot of pride in the following decade and a half. A man gifted with grit, character, and resilience, Gavaskar brought a revolution in Test batsmanship.

On 28th December 1983, Gavaskar brought up his 30th Test century. The Little Master became a record-holder for most centuries in Test cricket, surpassing the greatest of all time, Sir Don Bradman. The year 1983 was a memorable one for the Indian cricket team as well, having won the World Cup in the summer, beating the West Indies in the final.

How the Master surpassed the Don

India had a forgettable time hosting the Windies during the 1983-84 season as the visitors swept the five-match ODI series and secured the Test series 3-0. India’s saving grace was the three draws in the following three games. That said, Gavaskar grabbed the spotlight in the sixth and final Test in Chennai as he surpassed Bradman’s long-standing tally of 29 centuries, with a fabulous double century. He held this record for almost 22 years until Sachin Tendulkar broke it in 2005.

Batting first in the historic Chennai Test, the visitors managed to amass 313 runs before being dismissed as Maninder Singh and Kapil Dev finished with three-wicket hauls. In reply, Gavaskar came in at No. 4 when India were reeling at 0 for 2, with Anshuman Gaekwad and Dilip Vengsarkar gone for ducks. Reduced to 92 for 5, Gavaskar finally found a stable partner in Ravi Shastri, who went on to score 72. Shastri that India got close to West Indies’ first innings score and the duo added 170 for the sixth wicket. After losing Roger Binny and Kapil Dev, Syed Kirmani provided ample support for Gavaskar as the great went on to score an unbeaten 236 runs.

On the fifth and last day, Kapil Dev waited for Gavaskar to pass the previous highest Indian Test score (231 by Vinoo Mankad against New Zealand in 1955-56) before making a declaration. He batted nearly 11 hours to pick up his mammoth total, slamming 23 fours as he led his side to 451. Gavaskar eventually finished with 34 centuries in his glorious international career.