GRV hails India's all-round show

GRV hails India's all-round show

LEGEND’S TALK GR Viswanath relived India’s previous historic Test triumphs in West Indies and England.

G R Viswanath knows pretty well the emotions that engulf a team that has scripted history.

Viswanath, one of India’s greatest batsmen, was part of the side that wrote two memorable chapters in the history of Indian cricket: the first ever Test series triumphs in the West Indies (1-0) and in England (1-0), back in 1971.

On Monday, the Indian team ended a 71-year wait of a Test series win in Australia. GRV, as he is popularly known, went back in time to pick out the key moments of the two series, considered as major milestones in Indian cricket.

“Ajit Wadekar was the new captain and he led a side that stood out for its balance. It was a good mix of experience and youth. Myself, Sunil (Gavaskar) and Solkar (Eknath) were playing in the West Indies for the first time. But we also had Prasanna (Erapalli) and Sardesai (Dilip) who were familiar with the conditions. So the balance was very good. I think our biggest moment of confidence was when we enforced the follow-on in the first Test.

“It was also a case of every department coming good. Sunil and Sardesai were brilliant with the bat. Our spinners did a great job. Until a certain Kapil Dev came into the scene, it was our spinners who led the bowling attack. So it was a great achievement though the final verdict of 1-0 in a five-match series might not look appealing.

“When we landed in England next, we had taken confidence from the series. The conditions were different but we managed to win the series. Who can forget Chandra’s (B S Chandrasekhar) magical spell in the third and final Test?” he recollected.

GRV felt the current Indian team did well by not being over-dependent on any department in Australia. “If you ask me, only the opening pair caused worries for the side. Apart from that, we had healthy contributions from the middle order. The spinners played their part and our fast bowlers were easily the best performers in the series. It’s a tremendous feat by Kohli and his men,” said GRV, who played 91 Tests and scored 6080 runs at 41.9.

The stylish batsman, known for his strokeplay, struck a fantastic century (114) in Melbourne to help India draw level (1-1) in the three-match series against Australia in 1981. GRV explained why it took so long for India to overhaul Australia in their own den.

“The pitches in Australia are bouncy and they generate a lot of pace. I always loved to play in Australia because of the challenging conditions and the brand of cricket they exhibited. The Australians are extremely aggressive and I have seen so many teams in the past that aimed for a win and nothing else. They always had batsmen who would get big runs in every Test series.

“Of course in this series, they missed their two best players in Steve Smith and David Warner but the current set of players need more experience and they need to understand Test cricket better. For world cricket, it’s not good to see Australia struggling. We have seen how the West Indies and Sri Lanka are struggling to regain their lost glory. For the health of the sport, it’s important that Australia get back to their aggressive ways,” GRV said.

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