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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Kohli hits fastest Indian ton; India makes history wins chasing 360

I sort of jumped the gun and wrote of the innings of Shikhar Dhawan – calling it a great innings………… 95 off 86 balls with 14 boundaries… never I imagined that it would be dwarfed………… and feeling so happy at that…

It is SMS -  Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur ~ the one where Rajasthan Royals had odyssey…………. It is a gound that hosted a solitary Test match, in February 1987, when Pakistan President Gen Zia-ul-Haq hopped across the border to watch the second day's play as part of his "Cricket for Peace" initiative.  Jaipur made its international debut with an india-Pakistan ODI in 1983-84 and it also hosted World Cup matches in 1987 and 1996.  Today it offered the best of ODI cricket ……….. and what a match or what a day for the batsmen………

Aussies batted first……….. everyone made runs ; Finch 53; Phil Hughes 83; Shane Watson 59; Bailey unbeaten 92 off mere 50; Maxwell 53 off 32 as Aussies made 359 for 5 ! the very same score that they made against India in that 2003 WC finals…………

I grew up reading the ignominy of England amassing 334 in the Prudential World Cup and India losing so tamely – making 132 for 3 and my favourite Sunil Gavaskar grinding 36 playing out the entire 60 overs…………… from - 60 overs;  to 55 overs and now mostly 50 overs matches- One day Cricket has come a long way since 4 decades.

For long scores of 220-230 were considered good enough to defend and scores of 250+ were considered ~ sure win totals.. at times, teams chasing would easily give up if they were to score at 5 + at the start of their chase…….  Not any longer…….. perhaps amply demonstrating the growing influence of willow over leather..  slowly scores of 300 + even became not  good enough.. In the pre-match interview in WC 2011 Finals, Kumara Sangakkara quipped that only 350+ perhaps could be considered safe totals in India against India…

Though some countries upped the ante and scored 300+, India was late.  Their first score of 300+ came 22 years after their first One dayer. That was on 15th April 1996 at Sharjah when India batting first made 305/5 and won against arch rivals Pakistan.

Today the target was daunting – Indian openers gave the best possible start and after Dhawan got out at 95 – I wrote that an Indian win is within the realms of possibility… never I imagined that his effort would be dwarfed as India romped home so easily with 6.3 overs to spare and with 9 wickets in hand……….. yes, unimaginable 362 for 1….. On a day when Dhawan made 95 and Virat Kohli registered the fastest century by an Indian 100 unbeaten off 52balls ; the MoM was neither…. It was Rohit Sharma – for his dazzling unbeaten 141 off 123 balls………..

At the time of returning from Office, when I heard that the target was 360, I never imagined a win – leave along a victory this fashion………………. The  heavy bats, strategies, smaller grounds; T20s, will, determination and  stronger minds have all  changed the way Cricket is  played !!

Statistically, Kohli’s effort is the best by an Indian….though not the fastest… in April 1996 Sanath Jayasuriya made century off mere 48 balls against Pakistan at Singapore and in a few months in Oct 1996 Shahid Afridi reduced further 11 balls off it; the other great efforts have been Mark Boucher off 44; Brian Lara off 45; Afridi again off 45 against India and Kevin O’Brien’s ton in 50 balls against England in WC 2011. 

This 360 is the 2nd highest chase in ODI history… 1st was the one at Johannesburg in 2006 – when South Africa chased and made 438; 2nd is today’s win at Jaipur; 3rd  is Newzealand’s 350 at Hamilton in 2007; 4th is Newzealand’s 340/5 in 2007; next is Aussie 334 against England in 2011.  India’s earlier high was chasing 329 against Pakistan at Dhaka.

Incidentally all the first 4 top chases have been against Australia……….. and you cannot say that some team scored runs against weaker opposition.

What a match today at Jaipur…………
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th Oct 2013 @ 21.30 hrs…

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