Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar was, on Saturday, felicitated by the BCCI on the 50th anniversary of his Test debut with Board president Sourav Ganguly saying that the batting legend and his then teammates played a key role in making 'the game as strong as it is today'.
The 71-year-old former skipper received a commemorative Test cap from BCCI secretary Jay Shah during the lunch break on day three of the fourth and final Test between India and England at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. Gavaskar was doing commentary for the match.
"Celebrating 50 glorious years of the legendary former #TeamIndia Captain Mr. Sunil Gavaskar's Test debut today," the BCCI tweeted.
Shah also posted pictures of the brief ceremony on his official Twitter handle while BCCI President.
"Join me in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Shri Sunil Gavaskar Ji's Test debut for India. It is indeed a momentous occasion for all Indians and we are getting to celebrate it at the world's largest cricket facility Narendra Modi Stadium," Shah wrote.
Ganguly, also a former skipper, paid his tribute via Twitter.
"This day marks the 50th Anniv of Mr. Gavaskar in international cricket and the team of 1971.. It is time today to once again congratulate them for what they have for Indian cricket. The game is as strong as it is today because they made a start then against all odds. @BCCI," Ganguly tweeted.
The BCCI also compiled a video of several of Gavaskar's contemporaries and former and current cricketers sending him their best wishes.
Head coach Ravi Shastri said apart from being a world-class opener, Gavaskar also serves as a great ambassador of the sport.
"Many congratulations on 50 years in the games that takes an awful lot of time. No one will ever forget those heady days of 1971 when you announced yourself on to the world scene as a world class opening batsman," Shastri said.
World Cup-winning skipper Kapil Dev said he felt privileged to have played alongside him.
"My hero, I am proud, lucky and happy to play with him and learned a lot, true professional," Kapil said.
A veteran of the game, Gavaskar featured in 125 Tests, 108 ODIs between 1971-1987. He many milestones in his career, including becoming the first to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket.
"India's victory in the 1971 West Indies series was a watershed moment in Indian sport. It was an incredible victory by a fantastic team, led by our young Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar. In 50 years he has continued to inspire so many of us by his feats on and off the field," former skipper Rahul Dravid said.
Sri Lankan batting great Kumar Sangakkara also lauded Gavaskar's achievements, saying the 71-year-old epitomises courage and technique.
"Mr Sunil Gavaskar, the living legend. 50 years of cricket. The man who epitomises courage, technique, wearing what you always told be a plastic shell of a flower vase on your head against the might of the greatest fast bowlers of the world."
"What more can I say? Your record speaks for itself. your ability on the field and greatness speaks for itself. I wish all youngsters continue to learn from you," said Sangakkara.
Former England cricketer Allan Lamb recalled an incident which saw the Little Master being taken off the field with a broken shin.
"I can't believe it was 50 years ago you made your debut for India and you are still going, it's incredible. I can remember the debut I made against you in the 1980s and you were a very brave man, fielding at silly point to Ian Botham and you got carried off with a broken shin."
"To me that shows what courage you had playing all these quick bowlers. And your unbelievable record is just incredible," Lamb said.
Former Pakistan captain Zaheer Abbas said "Congratulation on celebrating 50 years of your debut and oh what a debut. Master has been my favourite batsman and a friend. He was a treat to watch."
A part of India's World Cup winning side in 1983, Gavaskar held the record for scoring most tons in Test cricket until Sachin Tendulkar surpassed his tally in 2005.
In his debut match against the West Indies, Gavaskar notched up half centuries in both innings, scoring 65 in the first and remaining unbeaten on 67 in the second essay.
India won that game by seven wickets and the went on to win the series 1-0.