Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fine wine

Approximately a year ago, I saw Sachin Tendulkar retire hurt at a personal score of 163 at the end of 45 overs in an ODI in New Zealand.  The way he was batting that day a double century was easily in sight, especially with the short boundaries in Christchurch. A few months later he surpassed that with a 175 at Hyderabad that was as emphatic as any of his innings. Crossing 150 is a rare enough feat in ODI's, doing it so many times in a career is phenomenal. Today, SRT finally crossed the rubicon, getting to the 200 run landmark that he richly deserves to be the first to get to, just as Brian Lara thoroughly deserves to be remembered as the first man to a Test 400.

There will be talk about how it was a flat pitch and the runs were there for the taking. Well, this was the 2,962nd ODI played and a batsman finally reached 200. I don't care how flat the pitch was, this was special. What made it even more special was that the team goal was not sacrificed at the altar of a personal record. (He did set the record for most 4's in a single ODI inning).

Between them MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan scored 104 runs in just 58 balls with 11 fours and 6 sixes. Masada came in at 300 for 3 in 41.1 overs. In the next 9 overs India added 101 runs with the Masada of recent vintage shelving his game for the MS of old. And boy, did he put up a display of wrist strength and power. When Matthew Hayden scored 380* against Zimbabwe at Perth, I remember watching Adam Gilchrist blazing away at the other end. Reared as I was through years and years of watching batsmen take singles to let another batsman get to a milestone, I was surprised at how quickly Gilly was scoring with scant regard for farming the strike. He reached a 100 in just 84 balls and all the while both batsmen knew that Steve Waugh was going to declare soon. The utter disregard for the personal milestone was not lost on me.

(Associated Press via CricInfo 2010)

When Sachin crossed the previous record of 194, there were 27 balls left and the Indian score was 345. Of the next 27 balls, SRT got to face just 7 balls and scored 5 runs off of them. Masada plundered 50 runs in the other 20 balls. Doing this put the game out of reach of the SAffers and also reduced the pressure on SRT to push the score along. Some of the sixes that the captain hit reminded everyone that the muscular marauder of old still lurks beneath the more sedate avataar he has adopted since his ascendancy to the top spot in Indian cricket.

Lots of writers far better than me will talk about SRT's inning so I will desist from doing the same. All I want to add is that, on evidence, he is still one of the best batsmen in the world and can keep playing for a few years beyond the World Cup. I hope he does. He is just that good.


Buck said...

i missed this innings by senor tendulkar but am definitely delighted that it is he who has first breached the 200-run barrier in the ODIs.

People might dispute, with good reason and sound data to back them up, claims that Sachin is the greatest test batsman of all time. But there is no doubting that he is the best ever ODI batsman.

Jaunty Quicksand said...

It was a great inning to watch. I tuned in to see what Sehwag would do and was mesmerized all the way through. No agricultural slogs, he relied predominantly on timing and his cover driving was exquisite.

Watch it on the WillowTV replay. You will enjoy it.

By the way, BD/DSC, the video scorecard for the second Test has been put up. Go and enjoy VVS's inning now. Click on Laxman's score (143*) and you can see every run he scored in the inning! :-) I just did.

WillowTV's video scorecard is such a wonderful application.