Gavaskar Wasn’t the Best India Captain” – Shashi Tharoor

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In the realm of Indian cricket, leadership has been an intricate dance between skill and strategy. Names like Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Ajit Wadekar, and Sourav Ganguly have etched their brilliance into the annals of the sport. Yet, when the spotlight shifts towards the most triumphant Indian captains, the towering figures of Kapil Dev and MS Dhoni naturally dominate the discourse. Their conquests in the form of World Cup victories have sealed their legacies as leaders par excellence. However, the trajectory of captaincy in Indian cricket has been graced by several luminaries, both with bat and ball. Bishan Singh Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, and Virat Kohli have all worn the captain’s armband, each contributing their own shade of success.

Speaking of Gavaskar, a man who steered India’s cricket ship during 47 Test matches from 1975 to 1985, Shashi Tharoor, a Congress leader and Member of Parliament, adds an intriguing layer to the discussion. He recently remarked, “Sunil Gavaskar wasn’t the best captain India had, but he wasn’t too bad.” Tharoor shared this observation during the launch of Amrit Mathur’s book, “Pitchside: My Life in Indian Cricket.”

Gavaskar’s tenure at the helm saw India clinching nine victories, drawing 30 matches, and suffering eight defeats in the Test format. Additionally, he commanded the team in 37 ODIs, steering them to 14 victories while conceding 21. He also notably won the World Championship of Cricket in 1985, with India going unbeaten in the seven-nation event.

Known for his candour, Gavaskar has never shied away from expressing his unfiltered opinions. This was evident when he openly critiqued the Indian team management following their loss in the World Test Championship final.

He questioned the decision to field first in overcast conditions of the final, and asked why the team failed to exploit Travis Head’s vulnerability to short-pitched deliveries. Gavaskar’s insights highlighted the necessity for a more discerning approach by the selection committee, probing the captain and coach for explanations.

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