Bishan Singh Bedi hails Gundappa Viswanath as a batting artist

Viswanath top scored in both innings at Kolkata scoring 52 and 139.

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Gundappa Viswanath had the ability to paint a masterpiece even in the ruins. When Wisden listed the greatest batting knocks in Test cricket, Viswanath’s unbeaten 97, against a dominant West Indian bowling line-up in 1975, found a mention at the 38th spot.

The ones who enjoyed the spectacle in Chennai will agree that this knock was beyond being rated. India had lost both their first two Tests, won the third, and had again slumped to 41 for four. While Viswanath batted like a champion at one end, wickets kept falling to a seemingly unplayable Andy Roberts on the other. It was soon 117 for eight, when Bedi walked in.

Bedi, who said the above words, then walked-in to bat. He supported the genius for 43 minutes, adding 52 runs for the ninth wicket. Though Bedi’s contribution was just 14!

His unbeaten 97 out of the team’s 190, turned out to be crucial in a low-scoring match, which India won by 100 runs. In the previous Test in Kolkata (then Calcutta), Viswanath top scored in both innings scoring 52 and 139 and at 97 not out (highest scorer again) and 46 (second highest scorer) at Chennai (then Madras), Viswanath’s efforts saw India turning things around and squaring the series two all.

Sunil Gavaskar, who missed that Test due to an injury, later summed it up well in his book, Idols:

“His 97 not out is the finest Test match innings I was privileged to see.”

“That attack is the best form of defence was amply proved in this innings. From 91 for seven, Vishy helped in carrying the score to 191, and in the end missed his hundred by three runs when the last man in, BS Chandrasekhar, who had defended dourly, surrendered his wicket to Roberts. Vishy’s strokes in that innings were unbelievable. His square-cutting meant that Clive Lloyd had to keep two fielders on the third man boundary, and the way Roberts was bowling that day, it is a tribute to the quality of batsmanship. The moment Roberts bowled on the leg side, Vishy flicked him past square-leg and past mid-wicket. And the moment there was an over-pitched delivery, he drove it through the covers with elegance.”

reatest knock in Test history. India were 117 for eight against a red-hot Andy Roberts (7-64) and Gundappa Viswanath took the total to 190 with Bedi and Chandra, who between them scored 15 runs. This team was without Sunil Gavaskar and Viswanath had propped up single-handedly. He had scored a hundred in the previous Test at Kolkata and helped India win the Test and here, at Chepauk, Chennai, his 97 not out went on to win another Test. West Indies, from 2-0 up, were now 2-2 in the five-Test series.

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