Gargi was an architect of batting solidity

Published: Monday, October 9, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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Gargi was a compulsive stroke maker. When she started her international career, it looked like she wanted to whack every ball she faced. To her credit, it must be mentioned that she was more often than not successful in playing attacking innings, especially against the England team that toured India in 1981.

She had a penchant for playing square off the wicket on the off side. The England players were hard pressed to set a field for her as she could pierce the off side cordon with precision placement between cover and third man.

Gargi's best innings that I witnessed was her 72 against the visiting Australians in the last Test at Bombay in 1984. This performance against a team with a good bowling attack was eclipsed because of Sandhya Agarwal's century (134) and 83 in the same Test. Gargi also is one of the two Indians to have two half centuries in the two innings of the same Test, the other being Sandhya.

Gargi was capable of throwing with both her hands with almost the same accuracy from mid-field even though she was right handed. She was capable of decent off spin bowling, but was used only as a change bowler. Gargi holds the record for the best bowling performance ever in a Test for India when she claimed six for 9 against New Zealand at Cuttack in 1985 bettering Diana Edulji's six for 64 against Australia in 1984.

I am no statistics buff but this may still rank as the best ever performance by a bowler for India. Not bad for a change bowler!

Gargi was also a shrewd thinker of the game. There have been many occasions during my captaincy when she has made suggestions that have proved beneficial for the team. This prompted me to induct her in the 'think tank' of the Indian team that played the World Cup at New Zealand in 1982. But unlike Nilima Joglekar, who had a short stint at the Indian captaincy, Gargi missed out as she represented teams where she was not leading.

Gargi was equally at home in both versions of the game. She was one of the players that lost out because of lack of international matches from 1986 to 1991. Gargi and Sandhya formed the best opening pair for India for a long time. She had the ability to keep the scoreboard moving even on occasions when her partner was subdued.

The 1991 tour of Australia was not successful for Gargi as was the case with almost all the Indian batsmen. But Gargi was dropped from the Indian team that played the World Cup in England in 1993, which in my opinion was rather unfair. She retired from domestic cricket in 1997.

Gargi's contribution to the game has been invaluable. She qualifies as one of the best opening batsmen of India. She brought respectability to the Indian batting at the top, which, prior to her time, was susceptible to the moving ball. Thatscricket.com, in recognition of her contribution to the game, salutes her by including her in the Golden Oldies section.

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