Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar was one of the many famous personalities, who experienced the healing powers of Sathya Sai Baba, who passed away on Sunday.
Gavaskar, who is an ardent devotee of Sai Baba and celebrated his 60th birthday at the latter's ashram in Puttaparthi in 2009, witnessed a miracle during the Indian team's 1977-78 tour of Australia.
The batting legend was doubtful for the first Test in Brisbane with a thigh muscle injury, but recovered in time and played the match after applying Sai Baba's vibhuti (ash) as a cure.
After struggling to walk without pain two days prior to the Test, Gavaskar went on to score a battling century 113 in over five hours in India's second innings. He couldn't save India from a 16-run defeat though.
Sushil Doshi, a renowned commentator, who personally handed over Baba's holy ash to Gavaskar, recalled the
incident: "Gavaskar's wife Pammi (Marshneil) arranged to send Sai Baba's vibhuti to me while I was preparing to leave for my commentary assignment for All India Radio. I reached Brisbane two days before the Test match.
Gavaskar admitted later that he highly appreciated the gesture and felt better immediately after applying the vibhuti on his torn right thigh muscle. It was a miracle as Gavaskar not only played the Test but also scored his 11th Test hundred," Doshi told MiD DAY from Indore yesterday.
Gavaskar wrote in detail about his experience in an article for Sanathana Sarathi, the official magazine of Baba's ashram, in November 2000. "After I started applying the vibhuti, there was marked improvement and on the eve of the Test match. I requested the team management not to rule me out, but to have a fitness test on the morning of the match," he wrote.
"From being barely able to put weight on my leg, I was able to walk comfortably in just two days. But there was a stiff soreness that was worrying. On the morning of the match, I applied vibhuti to the leg and went to the ground.
"That was going to be my first attempt to try and run after a gap of eight days. Even as I stepped on to the ground to give my fitness trial, I realised that the stiffness was almost gone.
"At the Queensland Cricket Ground in those days, you had to descend a few steps to the ground and it was these few steps which were painful previously, and I had to walk down gingerly. But on this day, I felt confident enough getting down these steps normally.
"I took a light jog around the ground and with every stride I could feel the soreness going away. Though I did not do anything silly as a quick dash or sprint, I felt confident enough to play in the Test and so informed the management, who accepted it and included me in the playing XI. It was unbelievable."