Sunil Gavaskar turns 71 today. One of the greatest batsmen of all time, Gavaskar won the admiration of the world with his majestic batting display in the 1970s and 1980s. Years after his retirement, Gavaskar continues to win hearts of all. On the occasion of his 71st birthday, he decided to sponsor heart surgeries for 35 children from underprivileged families at Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital for Child Heart Care, Kharghar. The legendary cricketer will be repeating his life-saving action from the previous year.
Why the number 35? That is the number of centuries the Mumbai stalwart has scored for India.
“While there are many areas of need that one can serve, children have a special place of importance. They remain the joy of every family and usher in the hope of a bright future that all look forward to,” Gavaskar told TOI.
Congenital heart disease impacts several families worldwide. If treated on time, the child can go on to lead a normal life.
“Sadly, congenital heart disease is the commonest defect at birth in India... Many have no chance to survive and lead a life of dignity... And most of them are poor, and care is limited in the country. The ‘Heart to Heart Foundation (H2H),’ which I work for, provides hundreds of these children the gift of life, through the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centres for Children Heart Care in Naya Raipur, Palwal, Haryana, and Kharghar, Navi Mumbai—free of cost. The motto there is ‘only dil, no bill’,” said the former Indian captain, explaining the motivation behind his action.
Gavaskar, who brilliance has inspired the likes of Tendulkars and Dravids to take up the game, said that the experience of providing the anxious family with joy after a complex life-saving heart surgery is truly defining.
Last year, through H2H, Gavaskar supported over 600 life-saving heart surgeries for underprivileged families in India. One of the greatest openers in the game’s history, Gavaskar was a part of India’s 1983 World Cup triumph, and two years later, under his captaincy, India won the World Championship of Cricket. The first batsman to reach the 10,000 Test-run mark, Gavaskar held the record of most centuries (34) in Test cricket for almost two decades till one of his die-hard fans and state-mate, Sachin Tendulkar surpassed him in 2005.