Home > Features > Moments in history >

A great knock, on a difficult wicket against top class bowling and against great odds

A great knock, on a difficult wicket against top class bowling and against great odds

Gundappa Viswanth was the eighth out with the total at 301, having almost doubled the score after losing his last recognised partner. His innings ranks among the greatest by an Indian batsmen in Test cricket © Getty Images

On December 31, 1974, Gundappa Viswanath completed a gem of an innings at Kolkata to guide India from the brink of defeat to a memorable victory.Arunabha Sengupta recalls the fantastic innings that laid the platform for Bishan Bedi and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar to weave their magic.

By the third morning, India seemed down and out – on the verge of surrendering the series. Down 0-2 after losses in Bangalore and Delhi, they were staring at defeat for the third time in succession as the second wicket went down at 46.
 
They had managed to partially withstand an Andy Roberts blitz in the first innings, reaching 233 thanks mainly to a sedate and disciplined 200 minute half century by Gundappa Viswanath.
 
Unusually, India had been brought back into the match by a seamer, instead of the spin trio of Bishan Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Erapalli Prasanna. Madan Lal, bowling his heart out, had captured four for 22 as the West Indians had managed a slim seven run first innings lead. Dropped at 15, Roy Fredericks had top scored with exactly 100.
 
With an injury having side-lined Sunil Gavaskar, the Indian top order was dangerously brittle. Viswanath was quickly into action again on the third morning after Sudhir Naik was caught off Roberts and Parthasarthi Sharma was run out.
 
The gem from Viswanath
 
The wristy artist from Karnataka carried on his excellent touch from the first innings. However, his efforts might not have borne fruit had Farokh Engineer not shown unusual restraint and patience during a three hour vigil for 61. The two pushed the score past hundred, and the balance was somewhat back in India’s favour. But, at this juncture, Elquemedo Willett, the curiously named left-arm spinner and the first man from Leeward Islands to play Test cricket, snared the Indian wicketkeeper at 120 and soon induced a false stroke from captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.
 
Soon after that, Lance Gibbs, getting purchase from the wearing track, got debutant Anshuman Gaekwad caught close in. With the score on 152, defeat loomed ominously. Fredericks, Gordon Greenidge, Viv Richards, Alvin Kallicharran and Clive Lloyd waited for the tail to be whisked off, eager to rattle off the required runs and have the series in the bag.
 
For a brief while Madan Lal waged a battled, holding one end firm, while Viswanath conjured up gaps in the field that could not be discerned with naked eye. The two took the score to 192 when Roberts came back to bowl the Delhi all-rounder.

Vishwanath took the battle into the next day, remaining unbeaten on 75 as India finished on 206 for six. Debutant Karsan Ghavri was keeping him company, showing admirable grit and character.
 
After the rest day, when the teams resumed the contest on the last morning of 1974, Roberts got the ball to swing with the breeze coming in from the Ganges. A huge sigh of relief rippled across the huge Eden crowd when Viswanath edged a lightning fast delivery and it was not held in the slips. Roberts beat the little man’s bat twice more, but he survived. And strangely, after a stinging first spell of three scorching overs, the Antiguan fast bowler was taken off by captain Lloyd.
 
By the time he was brought back into the attack a session later, Viswanath and Ghavri had settled down and consolidated immensely. The Karnataka maestro had executed delectable strokes around the wicket, cutting, flicking and driving to pass his hundred, one of the shiniest gems of his glittering career. Ghavri had stuck around for two hours and, growing in confidence, had even lofted Willett for a six.
 
It was 282 for six when Roberts returned to charge in and a run later uprooted Ghavri’s stumps for an extremely valuable 27. As Prasanna walked in, Viswanath pierced the field with some crisp hits all around the wicket before Vanburn Holder got one to swing in and beat his defence. The maestro had scored 139 in over six hours with 23 hits to the fence.
 
The knock ranks perhaps as one of the greatest played by an Indian batsman on a difficult wicket against top class bowling, with odds stacked against the side. He was the eighth out with the total at 301, having almost doubled the score after losing his last recognised partner. Indian innings folded for 316, but by now, the three spinners had enough runs on the board to make a match of it.

What happened next
 
Ghavri swung one in to trap Greenidge leg before early in the innings. With the pitch offering variable bounce and lots of spin, settling down was always going to be difficult. Bedi turned one to castle Fredericks at 41, but Richards launched into a brilliant counter attack. While the classy Kallicharran batted steadily at the other end, the Antiguan blaster thrashed nine fours and by the fourth afternoon had almost taken the match away from India.
 
At 125 for two, however, Madan Lal bowled the great man with a ball that kept low. West Indies finished the day with a moderate advantage at 146 for three.
 
The next morning witnessed a thrilling battle of wits. Clive Lloyd launched into Chandrasekhar, belting him for three boundaries, almost forcing him to be taken off. But, his counterpart, Pataudi, did not panic. He persisted with the leg-spinner and Chandra produced a gem that bowled Lloyd off his pads.
 
It was now the turn of the other left hander, Kallicharran, to try and unsettle the threatening Chandra. He took a couple of boundaries off him, but in an over-adventurous bid, he slashed at one that went the other way and was well held in the slips by Viswanath.
 
Chandra proceeded to trap Bernard Julien leg before to make it 176 for six, and the West Indians collapsed. Bedi made short work of the tail, and India triumphed by 85 runs in a memorable victory.
 
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test: Australia's practice session

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Kevin Pietersen saga: Stuart Broad, James Anderson saddened by bullying claims

Live Cricket Score India A vs Sri Lanka, warm-up match at Mumbai: India A maul Sri Lanka by 87 runs

Live Cricket Score Duleep Trophy Central Zone vs South Zone, final at Delhi Day 2: South Zone lead by 32 runs at the end of second day’s play

Live Cricket Score Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test at Abu Dhabi Day 1: Younis Khan reaches his 100

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane — who should open for India?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Bangladesh Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 Sri Lanka Zimbabwe

Sanjay Bangar: This innings will give a lot of confidence to Manish Pandey

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test at Abu Dhabi: Younis Khan reaches his century

Sachin Tendulkar says great honour to be inducted into Bradman Hall of Fame

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: KL Rahul’s unbeaten 168 gives South Zone 32 runs lead over Central Zone

Stuart Broad rubbishes Kevin Pietersen’s comments on bullying

Highest identical scores in both innings of a Test

Younis Khan — perhaps Pakistan’s greatest batsman ever

India A vs Sri Lankans tour match: Players look to make the most of opportunities

Viv Richards: How did he perform against the West Indian quicks?

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane — who should open for India?

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

NGOs pursue education for all

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Alia Bhatt to play the lead in Rock On 2?

‘No Kolkata, no ISL’ for Shah Rukh Khan

Sonakshi Sinha on Harper’s Bazaar cover: Elegant in a Dior dress!

क्यों युवा हो रहे हैं दिमाग की बीमारी से ग्रस्त

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: KL Rahul’s century puts South Zone in command against Central Zone

Twitter, IBM join forces on business data analytics

India A vs Sri Lanka tour match: Sangakkara, Tharanga lead Lanka’s chase of 382

Honey — home remedy for soft and supple skin

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here