1979 World Cup flashback: When Gordon Greenidge went on the rampage against the hapless Indian bowlers

Gordon Greenidge
Gordon Greenidge

Gordon Greenidge was one of the hardest hitters of the cricket ball, and he did it with a very good technique. Whether it was the drive or the cut, the pull or the hook, Greenidge gave it a mighty whack. But you would always find his feet and head in the right place, playing as close to the body as required, with the bat coming down in a perfect arc.

For a fearsome stroke-player, Greenidge's technique was remarkably copybook. He embodied the perfect blend between the West Indian flair that he was born into, and the English understanding of the mechanics of the game (by virtue of his being brought up in that system).

It was in the opening India vs West Indies encounter of the second ever World Cup that Greenidge put on a display of his awesome power and considerable talent. The Indian batsmen did not make his task difficult either, as they capsized against the great Caribbean fast bowlers - with Michael Holding capturing four wickets for 33 runs.

Only Gundappa Viswanath offered resistance with a classy 75. He recalled later: "That knock enjoys a special page in my diary. I tried some innovative strokes against Croft, whom I was facing for the first time. The moment I succeeded, I gained in confidence and felt as though I was playing the 1975 Madras Test innings all over again."

During the chase, Greenidge was in prime form right from the start. He hit all round the wicket with tremendous power. Desmond Haynes was partnering him for the first time in the World Cup, and they celebrated the occasion with a century stand. But Greenidge stole the limelight as he cruised to his fifty off 72 deliveries, hitting 6 fours.

When tea was taken after 25 overs the score stood at 88 for no loss, with Greenidge on 51, and Haynes 30. The 100 came up in the 29th over and there was still no sign of a breakthrough.

Only when Kapil Dev returned to the bowling crease did the first wicket fall. He had Haynes leg-before for 47, with the board already showing 138 runs.

But that only made matters worse for the Indians as Greenidge was joined by Vivian Richards. And the two were in no mood to hand out any favours to the fielding side.

Though skipper Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Karsan Ghavri bowled tidy spells, Greenidge was not to be contained on this day. He powered on, and completed his century off 153 deliveries with 9 fours and a six.

West Indies romped home by nine wickets, with 8.3 overs to spare. Greenidge reminded unbeaten on 106; it was his maiden century in the World Cup, and one of only two in the 1979 competition. The other, by Richards, came in the final.

In this game it was vintage Greenidge - power-packed shots executed with clinical perfection. It was only later in his career, when he began playing the reverse sweep, that Greenidge deviated drastically from the coaching manuals.

The awesome West Indies had a super opener for all seasons, whether it was Test cricket or one-day cricket. On this day he showed exactly why.

India: 190 all out (53.1 overs), West Indies 194 for 1 wicket (51.3 overs).

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Edited by Musab Abid
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