Former India opener Sunil Gavaskar was one of the best players of his era. His teammate and former India left-arm spinner Maninder Singh recalled that it was Sunil Gavaskar’s immense concentration that was his biggest strength.
Sunil Gavaskar ended up with 10122 runs from 125 Tests at an average of 51.12 with 34 career centuries. Maninder Singh played alongside Sunil Gavaskar between 1982 and 1987 and referred to the former India captain as the ‘God of Concentration’
“I used to call him God of concentration. I’ll give you the reason for it. When I was in the team and used to see him go in the nets, nobody had to tell him about the last round. He used to be out of the nets, precisely after 10 minutes.
“Every time I used to look at my watch to track the time, it will always be 10 minutes from the time he went in to the time he came out and amazingly, he never had a watch on his wrist,” Maninder Singh was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
'Sit in the balcony and watch me score a hundred': Sunil Gavaskar to Maninder Singh
Maninder Singh recalled an incident from India’s 1986 tour of England when Sunil Gavaskar was struggling for runs in the tour games ahead of the Test matches.
“During the 1986 tour of England, he was not scoring runs in the tour games. But I remember he used to tell Kapil Dev ‘don’t worry, I will give you runs when the time comes,’” Maninder Singh recalled.
“What happened was the Indian press started writing him off when he wasn’t scoring in those warm-up games against the County sides. So I remember a game against Somerset, me and Kapil were coming from a fielding practice and India were batting. I was all drenched even in that winter in England. I and Kapil paaji had put in so much effort jogging, sprinting, and bowling that I was covered with sweat.
“Gavaskar before going out to bat tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘son don’t go and change, sit in that balcony and watch me score a hundred.’ And he scored a hundred. His concentration level was so good that he knew ‘now the time has come, I have to concentrate’,” said Maninder Singh, about the tour game against Somerset where Sunil Gavaskar went on to score a hundred.
India managed to post a historic 2-0 series win over England in the 1986 series, winning the first Test at Lord’s by five wickets and the second Test in Headingley by 279 runs. Sunil Gavaskar had a modest series, scoring 175 runs in six innings with only one half-century.
Dilip Vengsarkar made up for Sunil Gavaskar’s failures, scoring 360 runs in three Tests including two centuries. Maninder Singh ended up as the second-highest wicket-taker for India in the series behind Chetan Sharma (16 wickets) by picking up 12 wickets at an average of just 15.58.
“He (Gavaskar) was not a big trainer, he never trained too much. I think he used to train himself mentally. In international cricket, you have to be mentally strong that is what matters the most,” Maninder Singh recalled.