Career and highlights
On his Test match debut, Viswanath scored a century against Australia at Kanpur in 1969 in a drawn match. He also recorded a duck in the same game, one of only four batsmen to have done this in their first match. Viswanath is one of three players to score a century in both his first class and Test debuts. He scored 13 more centuries in his Test career and none of them came in a match that was lost. He tended to produce his best performances on difficult pitches and a number of his best innings were not centuries, but were crucial to the team’s cause. Against Australia and the West Indies, both known for their strong pace attacks, he had a batting average of over 50. He was at his peak in the mid-1970s. Against the West Indies at Madras in 1974-75 he scored 97 not out out of a total of 190 against a bowling attack containing Andy Roberts. Despite not being a century, it was regarded as one of the finest performances by an Indian and it led to an Indian victory. The Wisden 100 ranked it the 38th best innings of all time, and the second best non-century. He had also scored a match-winning century in the previous Test at Calcutta, but despite a 95 in the final Test at Bombay the series was lost 3-2.
In 1975-76, Viswanath again produced some strong performances against the West Indies, the most notable of which was his 112 at Port of Spain which helped India to reach the victory target of 403. At the time, this was the highest successful run-chase in Test cricket. In 1978-79 at Madras he again top scored with 124 out of a total of 255. India went on to win the match which ultimately led to a 1-0 series victory in the 6-match series, although this West Indian side was considerably weaker than in previous series after many players opted to play in World Series Cricket instead.
In the 1982-83 season Test Series in Pakistan, Viswanath was part of the team which lost the series 3-0. Viswanath was one of the Indian batsmen who did not fare well mostly due to controversial decisions by the Pakistani umpires who were known to be raised towards their own bowlers. This kind of bias towards the home team finally lead to the introduction of neutral umpires in the year 2014.
Test Centuries outside of Indian SubcontinentNo.Score4s6sAgainstVenueDateResult1112150 West IndiesQueens Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago7 April 1976India won by 6 wickets2113140 EnglandLord’s Cricket Ground2 August 1979Draw3114110 AustraliaMelbourne Cricket Ground7 February 1981India won by 59 runs
Viswanath also had a brief stint as the Indian captain in 1979-80. In the two Tests he captained, one was drawn and one was lost, the latter being the Golden Jubilee Test against England. Throughout his career, Viswanath was renowned for his sense of fair-play, and in this match he recalled Bob Taylor to the crease after the umpire had already given him out. Taylor went on to score some vital runs for England helping them to win the match.
Viswanath retired from Tests in 1983, and later served as a match referee for the ICC from 1999 to 2004. He was also the Chairman of the national selection committee, and also served as the manager of the Indian cricket team. He is also involved in cricket coaching at NCA. He is married to Kavita, sister of Sunil Gavaskar and with their son Daivik reside in Bangalore, India. Gavaskar named his son Rohan Jaivishwa Gavaskar -First name for Rohan Kanhai (former West Indian captain) the middle name honouring M. L. Jaisimha and Viswananth.