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Gavaskar is the best opener I have seen: Shastri

india Updated: Jul 10, 2013 22:43 IST
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Former India all-rounder RaviShastri today said that ex-captain Sunil Gavaskar remains the best opener he has seen in world cricket.

Shastri paid the 'little master' glorious tributes today after Gavaskar was inducted into the Legends Club as the fourth member on his 64th birthday.

"Over the last forty years the three best openers I have seen are Gordon Greenidge (West Indies), Graham Gooch (England) and Matthew Hayden (Australia).

But Sunil Gavaskar stands apart. I have not seen a better opening batsman," said Shastri in his keynote address at the Cricket Club of India.

Shastri pointed out how Gavaskar had battled fearlessly and scored tons of runs against some of the best pace bowlers the world has seen, especially the fiery West Indian pace battery of the late 1970s and 1980s.

"There were no visors, no helmets and you needed rock solid defence to bat for 5-6 hours in a day. He had nerves of steel. His hunger for runs was astounding. He had great competitive instinct and hated to fail," said Shastri about the batsman who first scaled cricket's Mount Everest of 10,000 Test runs.

Shastri recalled an innings in the third Test of the 1982-83 tour to the Caribbean islands.

"It was in Guyana. He had not got many runs in the first two Tests. He came to my room and called me out to dinner. He wanted to unwind. Two days later I saw batting of the very highest order from him," recalled Shastri.

"He was on 49 when Malcolm Marshall, who was bowling at the speed of light from around the stumps, gave him little room and the ball hit him on the forehead and went 10-15 feet behind the wicket keeper. Gavaskar did not even flinch though the knock was as hard as a walnut.

"No one in the West Indies team even went close to Gavaskar even as Marshall went to the top of the mark. The next ball was driven past the bowler for a four by Gavaskar to reach 53. That was an important moment and sent such a strong message to the opposition. He then ended on 147 not out," said the former India all-rounder.