June 7, 1975, will always be a historic day for cricket. The first-ever Cricket World Cup match was played on this day. The opening match of the tournament saw hosts England take on India at Lord's.
The match produced one of the most controversial one-day innings of all time and sadly for Indian cricket, the day would be remembered for one of the slowest knocks in the history of the game, by none other than their celebrated opener Sunil Gavaskar.
After Dennis Amiss (137), Keith Fletcher (68) and Chris Old (51) helped England amass 334/4 in 60 overs, India faced an uphill task. What followed was defensive cricket when the situation called for the attack.
Gavaskar accumulated 36 runs as he stayed unbeaten after facing 174 balls. India managed 132/3, losing the game by 202 runs. Gundappa Viswanath top-scored with 37 off 59.
From the off, it was apparent that he was adopting a strategy known only to himself. At first, his snail-like batting was put down to a desire to see off the new ball. But when he continued his go-slow, frustration among the crowd grew.
The opener's performance came in for heavy scrutiny as he was accused of trying to preserve his average in the tournament.
Whatever be the reason, his innings contained just one boundary and neither was he showing signs of getting out.
The crowd almost fell asleep.
In the firestorm after the match, Ramchand grew more bullish, and two days later he told the Daily Express: "It was the most disgraceful and selfish performance I have ever seen… his excuse [to me] was, the wicket was too slow to play shots but that was a stupid thing to say after England had scored 334. The entire party is upset about it. Our national pride is too important to be thrown away like this."
Rumors abounded, the most popular being that Gavaskar was unhappy with the team selection, especially the decision to ditch the team's reliance on spinners (who had been mauled in England the previous summer) in favor of seamers. Others claimed he was annoyed that Srinivas Venkataraghavan had been made captain.
Years later, Srinivas Venkataraghavan was more outspoken told Shekhar Gupta "It left a very, very bad taste. He let the team down, the spectators down, the spirit of the game down. I don't know what happened to him."
As a matter of fact, Gavaskar did comment on this entire episode when he spoke about this in his book in Sunny Days: "There were occasions I felt like moving away from the stumps so I would be bowled. This was the only way to get away from the mental agony from which I was suffering. I couldn't force the pace and I couldn't get out. Towards the end, I was playing mechanically."