GR Viswanath, the first superstar batsman from Karnataka to play for India, played a pivotal role in Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy triumphs. He quickly rose from domestic to international cricket because of his batting prowess. He came to the limelight under the captaincy of EAS Prasanna for Karnataka and under Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi for India.
Asked about his quick graduation from domestic to international cricket, GR Viswanath said on Star Sports 1 Kannada show Diggajara Danthakathe, “Thanks to Prasanna who pushed for me initially. It helped me play for the state. Pataudi was playing for Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy. As a part of Karnataka team, we had to play against him. He (Pataudi) saw me closely there. For a match playing for President’s XI, New Zealand had come in 1968 and I got a chance to play. Chandu Borde was the captain and we had a good partnership. He [Chandu Borde] recommended me to Pataudi and that’s how I came into prominence much earlier than what I expected.”
GR Viswanath was known for his legendary square cuts and flick shots. He was also reputed to be a wristy player and experts from his playing days vouched for his strong technique, wherein he could play five different shots off the same ball. He scored a century in his debut match against Australia in Kanpur in 1969, the first of the 14 centuries he would go on to score in his illustrious career, spanning over 14 years.
His battles on the cricket field against the strongest bowling line ups of the time are legendary. His unbeaten match-winning 97 against West Indies while facing a rampaging Andy Roberts in Chennai in 1974-75 or the match-winning 124 against West Indies in 1978-79 or his attacking innings of 83 & 79 against New Zealand in Christchurch on a seaming track in 1976, established him as a batsman who could play across conditions.
GR Viswanath’s career ended abruptly after the series against Pakistan in 1982-83 where India lost the six match Test series. Reflecting on that, GR Vishwanath said on Star Sports 1 Kannada show Diggajara Danthakathe, “I was very, very hurt when I was dropped. At that time, in all the three times [innings] I took wrong decisions. It is part of the game. But in that [situation] in two innings, if I had scored well, they would not have removed me. Kapil’s captaincy was not announced but it was almost known to everyone. He told, “Probably I [Kapil] think they won’t select you, is it ok?” How do you expect me to say no I am not ok?”
Star Sports 1 Kannada continues to delight cricket fans with the show ‘Diggajara Danthakathe’ which sees Vijay Bharadwaj in conversation with legends of Karnataka cricket. The show captures their experiences off the field and life beyond cricket. It also takes viewers and fans through the journey and ‘never told before’ stories of the legends. Along with their illustrious career, the show shows a human side of the legends that we’ve never had the opportunity to see. The third episode witnessed legendary India batsman GR Vishwanath as the special guest.
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