Sunny G, Southpaw

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: Commentator and ex player Sunil Gavaskar has his picture taken by fans during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between India and Afghanistan at The Ageas Bowl on June 22, 2019 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Stu Forster-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

Sunil Gavaskar is perhaps the greatest Indian cricketer ever . Even if you don't agree with this, he definitely is a legend of the game, and it is on the foundation built by the likes of him and Kapil Dev that the modern edifice of Indian cricket stands today.

Gavaskar turns 70 today, and knowing his penchant for centuries- he was the first to go past the 30 centuries mark- one hopes that he scored 100 in his life too. From 1971 till he retired in 1986, he remained India's pre-eminent batsman. He was the top scorer in his first Test series against the mighty West Indies team led by the peerless Sir Garfield Sobers. And when he retired after the 1986 Reliance World Cup, he was the top-scorer for India in the tournament. And his last Test innings, against Pakistan on a minefield of a pitch in Bangalore, is among the best innings by an Indian ever.

One of the most interesting sidelights during his cricketing career was him batting left-handed against Karnataka in the Ranji semi-finals during the 1981-82 series.

It’s a well-documented incident, but what is not so well known is another time when Indian viewers saw Gavaskar bat left-handed, against Pakistan in a Test match at Ahmedabad.

In the innings that Gavaskar scored his 10,000th run, he got out LBW while batting left-handed.

Allow us to explain: In those days, the national telecaster Doordrashan had started a new 'software' that allowed for replay visuals to arrive on screen after zooming all over the screen. You know the kind where the image floats and flips around, and then right at the end, it runs properly and starts playing in slo-mo? Yeah, that one.

What happened in this particular telecast was that 'software' probably got jammed, and the images that had flipped around, stayed reverse even during the regular live telecast.

The telecast continued for several minutes with Gavaskar and his partner seemingly batting left-handed. To be fair, Imran Khan was bowling with his left-hand too.

Picture this if you can: Sunny as a southpaw and taking on a left-handed Imran Khan and others. And it was in this stretch- for about 10 to 15 minutes- that Gavaskar was dismissed.

They set the software right later and the telecast returned to normalcy. But the clips, for some reason, never got changed. Even in the news bulletins later in the night and the highlights package, Gavaskar was seen playing left-handed. They never could straighten out that error.

Much later, DD revealed- in a response to an RTI enquiry from someone asking for clips of Gavaskar's 10,000-run innings- that the recording is not available due to the fact they (DD) may have over-recorded some other programme on those very same tapes.

It is a real tragedy that an epochal innings (for multiple reasons) is not available for posterity.

But those who watched that innings on television will cherish it: Gavaskar playing out the Pakistan attack as a lefty, and gloriously too.

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