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Legendary India batter Gundappa Viswanath, known for his elegant wristwork, turns 75

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Bengaluru, Feb 12 (IANS) Legendary India batter Gundappa Viswanath, known for his elegant wristwork, turns 75 on Monday. Born on February 12, 1942 in Bhadravathi, an industrial city in the Shivamogga District of Karnataka, Viswanath rose to become one of the finest batters to play for the country.

He came into national reckoning with a double century on his first-class debut for Mysore (the then-name of Karnataka team) against Andhra at Vijayawada in 1967-68. Viswanath scored 137 in the second innings of his Test debut, after being out for a duck in the first inning, against Australia at Kanpur in 1969.

He went on to feature in 91 Test matches, scoring 6,080 runs at an average of 41.93, including 14 centuries and 35 fifties. An astonishing fact is that none of his Test centuries came in an Indian defeat.

Some of his memorable knocks in Test cricket include a match-winning 97 against a West Indies bowling line-up featuring Andy Roberts at Chennai in 1974/75, as well as 124 against West Indies at the same venue in 1978/79, followed by 83 and 79 against New Zealand on a green pitch at Christchurch in 1975/76.

Viswanath, who captained India in two Tests, also played 25 ODIs, amassing 439 runs, including hitting two half-centuries and was a member of the Indian team in Men’s ODI World Cups of 1975 and 1979. With an elegant and wristy batting style Viswanath became extremely popular for playing the square cut.

After his playing days were over, Viswanath served as an ICC match referee from 1999 to 2004. He also worked as the Vice-President of the Karnataka State Cricket Association and was the chairman of national selectors from 1992 to 1996.

Viswanath, whose brother-in-law is Sunil Gavaskar, another legendary India batter, also worked as a batting coach at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. He was conferred with the CK Nayudu lifetime achievement award in 2008 and was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 1977/78.

Of late, Viswanath has been a commentator and expert with Star Sports’ Kannada feed, more recently during the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup in India and wrote an autobiography named ‘Wrist Assured’ in 2022. "We always celebrate milestones. I'm grateful and thank God for keeping me going at 75.”

“I'm looking forward to going further because being a cricketer, I always feel once you reach 50 and then 75, you look for the century. That said, this is the time to work really, really hard to get that 100. I plan to play as straight as I can. I didn't do that earlier, probably this is the right time to play straight and safe to stay healthy," said Viswanath to The Times of India.

--IANS

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