Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar recalled an instance from his debut series against West Indies in 1971, when the great Rohan Kanhai said a few words to the batsman. Gavaskar was approaching a century when he played a reckless shot, and that is when Kanhai walked up to him. However, instead of sledding or swearing at Gavaskar, Kanhai had something totally contrary to say, something which the former India batsman finds ‘unbelievable’ to date.
“In my debut series, if I played a bad shot when crossing over me to go to the slips for the next over if he was not within earshot of the wicketkeeper, he would whisper in my ear: ‘Concentrate! Don’t you want a 100? What’s the matter with you? He’s in the opposition, he’s not swearing at me, he actually wants me to get a 100. Unbelievable!” Gavaskar told Gaurav Kapur on his show 22 yarns.
Gavaskar famously went on to slam three centuries and a double in his first-ever series for India. However, besides the fame and recognition he gained, Gavaskar earned his friendship with Kanhai as the two went on to become great pals. Inspired by the West Indies batsman, Gavaskar even named his son Rohan.
“Apart from his batsmanship, (why I respected Rohan Kanhai so much was because of) how he secretly encouraged me. There’s always been this issue between African-origin people and Indian-origin people in Trinidad, Guyana. Off the field, he (Kanhai) was one of the nicest guys I ever met. Naming my son after he was a no-brainer,” Gavaskar added.