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One of the finest by Gavaskar for a losing cause

The 4th Test between India and England in 1979, England were leading 1-0. India were determine to get a win and Gavaskar scored his finest century though it was for a loosing cause.

Last updated: 04.09.2019
One of the finest by Gavaskar for a losing cause 1976 | Sports Social Blog

4th September 1979 was the last day of a thrilling test match between India and England at the Oval. It was the last and 4th test match of a series which England were leading 1-0 and India were determine to get a win to return with the series being shared.

On day one England won the toss and decided to bat first and they ended the day on 245/5. India had a good mix of experience and youth in their bowling attack as young Kapil Dev was leading the seam attack along with Karsan Ghavri and spin responsibility was on experienced duo of Bishan Bedi and Srinivas Venkataraghavan. Next morning India were quick to remove the last five wickets of England and got them all out for 305. Kapil and Venkataraghavan took three wickets each as Ghavri and Bedi shared the remaining four between them. Graham Gooch top-scored for England with 79 and Peter Willey was the other half centurion.

India’s first innings response was not up to the mark as they were all out for 202 runs and conceded 103 runs lead to England for whom Ian Botham took four wickets and Bob Willis and Mike Hendrick took three wickets each. For India Gundappa Viswanath top scored with 62.

England’s second innings was driven by a patient hundred by Geoff Boycott. His 125 runs came in 418 minutes and frustrated Indian bowlers. There was also a handy contribution of 59 runs from the debutant wicket-keeper David Bairstow, father of Jonny Bairstow. England’s second innings total of 334/8 ensured that India were set for a target of 438 in the fourth innings for a most unlikely win.

Sunil Gavaskar played one of his best innings and took the score to 76 for no loss at the fourth evening.

On 4th September, day five the Indian opening duo took the score to 213 before Chetan Chauhan was out for 80. By then Gavaskar was set and batting on a hundred. He built a brilliant partnership with the next batsman, Dilip Vengsarkar and added 153 runs in quick time. Although Vengsarkar was dismissed with 366/2 on board, India were favourite to win. To lift the run rate Kapil Dev was sent at four but was out immediately. Finally, Botham got rid of Gavaskar after a sparkling 221 with India still needing 49 runs in 7.4 overs. Botham kept things tight and also got another wicket and effected a run out to restrict India and with 15 required off the last over Botham conceded only six and took the wicket of Yashpal Sharma. After an exciting chase, India were short by just 9 runs of which would have been a world record.

Although India could not record a victory, Gavaskar’s innings remained one of the finest by an Indian played overseas. 

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