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Thursday, February 25, 2010


Dear (s)
 Do you remember Salil Ankola or test no. 1127 played at National Stadium, Karachi on 15th Nov 1989. That was the series captained by Krishnamachari Srikkanth when something dawned for India. If only the timing and day could do a fortune, consider this. Salil Ankola made his debut along with Sachin but ended playing a solitary test. Vivek Razdan who also made his debut during the Pak tour had a five wicket haul (5/79 at Sialkot) in one of his only two innings but ended up playing only two tests.

At Sialkot on a green and seemingly live pitch, Indians struggled against Wasim and Waqar. Vivek Razdan playing his second test match bowled a lively spell and Indians were 74 ahead. A young one, not even a major (he was 16 y & 205 days). was tested with barrage of bouncers but batted like a champion of three and a quarter hours. He was hit on the nose by Waqar was bleeding, got up, wiped away the gushing blood; though medical assistance denied kept playing eventually getting out for 57.

At Peshawar, the ODI slated on 16/12/09 was abandoned without a ball being bowled and to satiate the huge crowds a friendly match was arranged. Indians had not done great especially in Paki land and this 16 year old played, perhaps it was not an official match. Course of 18 deliveries changed everything for 53 (unbeaten) runs were made, Mushtaq Ahmed went for two huge sixers and then the great Leggie Abdul Qadir was taken 27 runs in one over – with 3 sixes in a row. Now who this little genius is !!!

Recently I read about Mongoose bat – the innovation in T20 which claims to pack unprecedented power that will give the edge and thought struck me that more records would be rewritten.

Reems have been written on this 37 year young man – who at times had received unfair criticism about his ageing, not scoring centuries in winning matches etc., For the cricket crazy nation, Sachin means so much to so many millions; he is icon, part of national pride, national consciousness; when he plays the Nation almost comes to a grinding halt. The journey that began at Sialkot way back in 1988 is streaming still. In the vast land, through every nook and corner he could stir emotions and bring smiles on the faces of millions.

He virtually owns all possible batting records ; in ODIs has scored 17598 runs with 46 centuries. A few months back at Hyderabad, Aussies amassed massive 350 and Sachin almost single handedly handled the chase scoring 175. Indians were close to victory requiring 19 off 17 – the rest choked and critics blamed him for not completing task. There was some unfair criticism that many of his hundreds had not helped the Team to win. How untrue !! – the fact is that 33 of them (out of 46) have come in winning matches.

He has amassed 13447 runs in tests with 47 centuries and more than 17500 runs in One dayers. At Gwalior, today, a barrier that has never been  breached in 2961 One day Internationals finally fell fittingly to this genius. (a small statistical revelation at the end of this story). Of them, some were 60 overs and some were 55 over affairs. The highest was 171 in 1975, 183 in 1983; 194 in 1997 & it remained for long. But yesterday, the 200 mark was breached, Sachin scored an astonishing 200 in 147 balls with 100 of them in boundary hits alone – perhaps another record of maximum four in a single ODI innings. He did not get to face many in the last 5 (9 out of 30) yet finished unbeaten with 200. This innings came against a classy attack who were ruthlessly decimated – clueless as to bowl where, varied their length, pace and did everything but kept conceding runs. Tendulya dominated each bowler. This assault left the Pretorians in disarray and the chase was never on, even for a team which successfully chased a world record 434 at Wanderers in 2006.

For somebody who has been playing top notch cricket for 21 years now, it is a superlative performance not only in terms of runs scored but more in display of grit, tenacity, physical and mental strength.

He had long back erased the epic 175 n.o of Kapil during his unbeaten 186 against Kiwis on 8th Nov 99; he had to retire due to cramps when he was 163 n.o at Christchurch on 8th March 2009. Langeveldt became part of history with his third delivery in the last over – a 137.4 kph delivery steered for a single to complete the double ton. After the great blitz, the victory or the margin was not the one followed by cricket lovers.

The fans were treated gleefully and the Gwalior Division Cricket Association gifted the little master a silver bat, 10 lakhs and a pavilion is to be named in his honour.

Tendulya has displayed excellent maturity and humbleness in all his acceptance speech. He dedicated this feat to the people of India and spoke thus “I don't know how to react to this. I was striking the ball and timing the ball well, it was coming on to the bat nicely. Yusuf came and changed the momentum and MS really struck the ball well; it was due to their big hitting that we were able to put up such a big score. It was only when I got closer to the score that I realised that I had an opportunity and I could take the singles to give MS the strike.

I'm enjoying my cricket. I've always played the way I felt was the right way to play, always done what I felt was good for the team. There have been times when I've made some bad decisions as a batsman, but as long as in my heart I know that whatever I'm doing for the team at that moment, I'm going to go ahead with that. It feels good that I lasted for 50 overs, a good test of my fitness. I'd like to bat another 50 overs at some stage and see that the fitness level doesn't drop."

Arguably this would rank as the best innings in 39 years of ODI cricket eclipsing the individual highest of Saeed Anwar and Charles Coventry as Sachin unfurled all shots in his repertoire taking the total past 400 mark. With a short past backward point off Charles Langeveldt, he raised his bat, took off his helmet and looked up heavenly – a land mark had been reached. There were two 100 + partnerships but they will be put to oblivion by the individual brilliance of Sachin. Back home, millions watching the match were getting restless even as Dhoni tore into Steyn hitting 17 off 49th and retaining the strike in the 50th and hammering the first ball for six. There was still time for the little master to complete the magic.

Some tributes on his 200  ::
I think if you ask Saeed Anwar, he would say he's happy that Tendulkar broke his record. The reason for his success is that he has a great respect for the game." - Aamer Sohail, Saeed Anwar's good friend and opening partner, pays a fitting tribute to the new record-holder
"He should aim for more. Maybe a Test innings of 450 or an ODI knock of 250. And then he himself wants to win next year's World Cup. There is a little boy in Tendulkar who wants to keep playing. That spirit keeps him going. It's absolutely incredible how he keeps going." - Keeping with the Mumbai ways, Sunil Gavaskar
"Come on Sachin my friend get your 200. World record to please! You deserve it… Nervous for my good friend Sachin everything crossed for you mate… Glad I'm not bowling to him today ha ha ha." - Tendulkar's old pal Shane Warne tweets his excitement as he nears the double-century
"It shows his mental and physical toughness. He's a player who does not throw away his wicket once he's set. He always places a huge price on his wicket." - Dilip Vengsarkar salutes the attributes that such a knock needs
"Sachin - the greatest ever player ever - without any doubt… I salute Sachin... World's greatest sportsman. We can see him only rise. (He is an) inspiration to us all. He is the best." - IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi waxes beyond eloquent, on his twitter page
"What an innings it was. He had come close to achieving it twice. I always felt that Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya are capable of doing that." - Kumar Sangakkara has not forgotten Tendulkar's recent dazzling form
"He is my favourite player. I had said that one day he would go on to break all batting records and now you see him scoring runs and runs." - Javed Miandad kinda saw it coming
"Whatever record is seen to be impossible to achieve, he makes it possible. That's all I can say. It seems as he's getting older, he is becoming more and more mature. No wonder Sir Donald Bradman saw himself in the way Sachin bats." - King of parsimony Bapu Nadkarni is not parsimonious with his praise.

Just as accolades continue to pour in, a woman had achieved this feat long back that too on Indian grounds. Yes, Belinda Jane Clark of NSW, Aussie is the first person to score a double century in a ODI. On 16th Dec 1997 at Mumbai Bandra ground, in Hero Honda Women’s World Cup match, she tore the Denmark attack and amassed 229 off 181 balls with 22 hits to the fence.

(Belinda with Gilly)

With regards – S Sampathkumar.

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