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  1. Today we wish the legendary Gundappa Vishwanath a great 70th birthday.Here I wish to play the maestro a handsome tribute. For sheer prowess or creative genius arguable no Indian batsmen could not equal if not surpass the legendary Gundappa Vishwanath.Vishy took batting wizardry to depths of the divine reminding you of a musical composer.His best batting took virtuoisty in the game to it's highest zenith.At his best he may have joined the Viv Richards.Tendulkars and Laras.Vishy's strokes posessed the grace of the touches of a painters brush and the imagination of a poet,taking the art of batting to another dimension.Some of the strokes he executed were his very own creation like his stroke which blended a flick,hook and a pull.His square or late-cutting resembled a magician performing.He blended his divine artistry with very sound technique thus being close to the most consummate batsmen of all.In my view simply the Indian equivalent of Rohan Kanhai. Quoting a paragraph in 'The Citizen' today below "Viswanath’s tenures at the crease could be compared to that of a musician at a concert. Like Ravi Shankar and Bismillah Khan in their arts, he held you spellbound with his matchless craft. You watched him with rapt attention as you would listen to the two others. He was always a great favourite with the crowd, who cheered him loud and long every time he came to the wicket, for they knew that while he was at the crease, they would witness batting in its highest art form. I watched Viswanath play several innings and not once can I remember the spectators booing him for slow scoring, though a Srikkanth or a Sehwag he was not. He was always watched with more than just keen interest. Even a defensive stroke - normally a dull thud of bat against ball – was a thing of beauty and grace when he played it. He sculpted his runs at the rate of roughly 25 an hour not with monotonous regularity but with strokes of ethereal beauty and grace. Seeing him execute some of his shots, which were the epitome of elegance, one was reminded of the work of sculptors, which is the work of perfection. There were touches of Vijay Hazare when he drove and shades of Vijay Manjrekar when he cut. While these strokes were predominant in his repertoire, he was also a daring hooker and had the most attractive leg glance one could hope to see." India never lost a test match when Vishwanath scored a century.On a bad wicket or fast track he overshadowed even his brother-in-law Sunil Gavaskar.His unbeaten 97 at Madras v West Indies in 1974-75 is rated by Wisden amongst the top 10 test innings ever and even his 124 on the same venue against West Indies is ranked amongst the top 100 innings of all time.In those innings Vishy took batting artistry to regions of the sublime,simply the epitome of cricketing perfection.He bissected the most impregnable gaps with the skill and precision of a surgeon or sculptor.Vishy was also instrumental in some of India's famous wins like at Madras v West Indies in 1974-75 and 1978-79 ,Port of Spain in 1975-76 and at Melbourne in 1980-81.He was also a class act at Dunedin in New Zealand in 1975-76 on a wet pitch when scoring 79 and 83 blending the skills of an architect and a surgeon.Vishy also had the ability to take India out of the depths of despair to vase tests like at Delhi in 1981-82 when scoring a classical 107 and at Lords when scoring 112 in a historic match-saving partnership with Dilp Vengsarkar of 210 runs.He also had the ability to make staggering or mammoth scores like when scoring 222 v England at Madras in 1981-82 and 179 at Kanpur v West Indies in 1978-79.Both Andy Roberts and Dennis Lillee rated Vishy a better player on fast ,bouncy tracks than Gavaskar.Gavaskar himself rated Vishy to be the best batsmen he saw in his time.In matches won Vishwanath averaged 49,more than Gavaskar.To turn or win games Vishy in my view was the most impactful Indian batsmen of his era.Above all Vishy scored runs when India most needed them. It is sad that we could hardly see Vishy much in the one day version of the game with his amazing skill to improvise.His 75 at Edgbaston in the 1979 Prudential World cup against an all-conquering Wist Indies pace attack ,ranks amongst the best batting counter-attacks ever against the great Calypso quartet. Sadly he never did true justice to his enormous talent getting out often to extravagant strokes or carelessness.If he wished or pursued bating records he would have averaged over 50 and scored possibly even 10 more test centuries. .Possibly inconsistency denied Vishy a place amongst the all-time great batsmen and he may have just been edged by Viv Richards and the Chappell brothers for a place in the middle order of the 1970's world xi.Still before the advent of Viv Richards in 1974-75 and the advent of Ian Chapell towards the end of the 1970s Vishy may have made the world xi at no4 or 5 spot. I would place Vishy just a notch below Colin Cowdrey,David Gower,Clive Lloyd ,Ted Dexter or Martin Crowe and virtually the equal of Zaheer Abbas,Mark Waugh and possibly V.V.S.Laxman. For sheer batting talent I would place Vishy on par with Denis Compton ,Majid Khan or David Gower and only behind Rohan Kanhai,Brian Lara,Viv and Barry Richards ,Don Bradman and Wally Hammond.Amongst Indian batsmen I would only place Tendulkar,Gavaskar,Dravid and Kohli ahead oh Vishwanath. In handling express pace I rank Vishy the best ever attacking batsmen from India and arguably even the entire sub-continent. The batsmen who batted most like Vishy was the legendary West Indian maestro,Rohan Kanhai,close to the most consummate batsmen of them all.Other batsmen very similar were Kalicharan David Gower,Zaheer Abbas,Mark Waugh and Azharrudin.
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