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Sunil Gavaskar’s believe-it-or-not moment: Dropped as captain after beating West Indies

Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar has put into focus an incredible part of his accomplished career for India in which he was replaced as captain by S Venkataraghavan in 1979 despite winning a home series against the West Indies in the 1978-78 season.

While writing about how he regretted not being able to convince the national selectors to include Padmakar Shivalkar and the late Rajinder Goel (the domestic giant passed away recently) in the Indian team, he also dwelled on how the selectors dropped him as captain.

Gavaskar wrote in his Straight Drive column which appeared in mid-day on Monday: “I was replaced as captain despite India winning the series against the West Indies (1978-79) and in which I got more than 700 runs. I still don’t know the reason for it, but can only surmise that it was because I had been pretty open about the offer to join Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. However, I signed the BCCI contract before the selection, thereby proving where my loyalties lay,” remarked Gavaskar.

He also revealed how he convinced the selectors to retain Bishan Singh Bedi for three Tests against the Windies when they wanted to drop him after he led India on the unsuccessful tour of Pakistan in 1978.

Gavaskar wrote: “The committee decided to drop Mr BS Bedi after three Test matches. In fact, they wanted to drop him straightaway after I replaced him as skipper after the series loss in Pakistan. I argued that he was still the best left-arm spinner in the country and so they reluctantly agreed to pick him for the first Test.

“Kapil Dev had just come on the scene then and along with Karsan Ghavri had formed a potent new ball pair for India. The spinners therefore didn’t get the kind of spells they were used to. The pitches were absolute beauties to bat on with little help for the spinners. The selectors wanted to leave out Mr BS Bedi for the second and third Test too, but I managed to convince them not to.

“Kindly remember the India captain is co-opted to the selection committee but has no vote. However, after the conclusion of the third Test and anticipating that the Chennai pitch was going to be one with more bounce, the selectors went for Dhiraj Parsana, who like Ghavri could bowl both seam and spin. This is where I couldn’t convince the committee to pick either Goel Saab or Shivalkar.”

Gavaskar regained the captaincy for the 1979-80 home season in which India beat Australia and Pakistan.

Read the full story here.

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