Karsan Ghavri – a real medium pacer during the Indian ‘spin era’: At a time when the spin quartet, Bishen Bedi, Prasanna, Venkat and Chandra were ‘ruling the roost’, it was upto the bowlers like Eknath Solkar and Abid Ali, to open the bowling attack only take the shine off the ball. Thereafter it was the spin quartet that would be in operation from both ends for most part of the match.
Karsan Devjibhai Ghavri, left-armer who could bowl real medium pace and had a vicious bouncer to fox the batsmen, emerged onto the scene. With a galloping start and a longer run-up, compared to the pace, Ghavri could trouble the batsmen at his will.
Ghavri could bowl the slow variety also with a shorter run up. He was also very useful, with the bat, down the order and has played cameo innings to ave the situation.
His all round abilities came to the fore in his debut series against the then mighty West Indies in 1974-75 series. Featuring in 3 of the 5 games, he picked up 9 wickets with 4/140 and 6/232 as his personal best in an innings and in a match respectively. He has bowled a total of 74 overs and given away 316 runs.
He had also aggregated 87 runs from 6 innings, remaining unbeaten once with 35* as his personal best.
The 1977-78 5-Test series against Australia, played Down Under was very productive for Ghavri. He ended the series with 11 wickets from 6 innings with 4/45 and 7/138 in an innings and in a match respectively.
With the bat he had contributed 102 runs from 5 innings including a half-century. His best knock in the series came in the first innings of the fourth-Test played at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, when, batting at No 9, he notched up 64 runs which included 5 fours in an innings of 142 minutes.
In the process he added 81 runs for the seventh-wicket alongwith the wicket-keeper Kirmani (42) and another 51 runs for the eighth-wicket in the company of Erapalli Prasanna (25*) and helped India take a huge first innings lead of 265 runs over the opposition.
Ghavri (12.7-3-42-2), Bedi (28-8-62-2), Chandra (24-3-85-2) and Prasanna (29-11-51-4) restricted the Aussies to 263 runs in the second nock and won the match by an innings and 2 runs.
The fifth and final Test at Adelaide also saw Ghavri put up a good show. Picking up the wickets of Bob Simpson (100), Gary Cosier (1) and Bruce Yardley (22), he gave away 93 runs in 22 overs in the first innings.
He carried forward his good work in the second innings also picking up 4 wickets, giving away 45 runs in 10.5 overs.
Ghavri ended with a match analysis of 32.5-4-138-7 wickets. However, this performance came in a losing cause for India.
The most successful series for Ghavri has been the 1978-79 series when West Indies had toured India. He ended up as the leading wicket-taker in the series, scalping as many as 27 wickets from 10 innings, at an average of 23.48 and an economy of 3.10 with 5/51 and 7/120 being the best performances.
In a Test career of 6 years (1975-1981) Ghavri had featured in 39 Test matches. In the 69 innings that he had bowled, he picked up 109 wickets at an average of 31.54 with an economy rate of 3.11 with 4 ‘five-wicket’ hauls.
Wielding the bat Ghavri has aggregated 913 runs in 57 innings at an average of 21.23 with 86 as his best performance. He also has 2 half-centuries to his credit.
The sixth and final Test of the 1979-80 series played against Australia at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, saw Karsan Ghavri register his highest score of 86 runs in the first innings.
Batting at No 10, Ghavri played an innings of 153 minutes facing 99 deliveries and hit 12 fours and 3 sixes. In the process he also shared a partnership of 127 runs for the eighth wicket with the wicket-keeper, Syed Kirmani (101*). This partnership was a record at that point of time.
This helped India to declare their first innings at 458 runs for the loss of 8 wickets.
They were then successful in restricting Australia to 160 runs in the first innings and another 198 runs in the second innings and won the match by an innings and 100 runs. They also won the series 2-0.
Ghavri was also part of the squad that played the first two editions of World Cup in 1975 and 1979 respectively.