Thursday, February 25, 2010

Only Sachin was worthy of double ton milestone

A thirteen-year wait ended for me on Wednesday. A wait for the first double hundred in ODIs. I had watched an utterly dehydrated Saeed Anwar of Pakistan get to 194 in the Pepsi Independence Cup match against India at Chennai. And he had a runner.

Ever since that day one was wondering who would be the first to do it. Zimbabwean Charles Coventry came close to it with another 194 against Bangladesh in 2009.

Sachin Tendulkar was the obvious one, Adam Gilchrist the next. When Sehwag came on the scene he became the marked one. In fact, Sehwag got nauseated about the hype over the ODI double-ton and it worked counter productive for him.

After Sehwag came on the scene and blasters like Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni followed suddenly the pressure was off Sachin to get that 200.

And that worked in his favour. Everybody expected a hundred but not the 200. They had given it up as gone because they thought only Sehwag could do it.

The reason was Sachin was not playing those rapier-like shots. Nor frequently on the up. Neither was he playing the heave over mid-wicket which he was told by doctors to eschew after his Sharjah back problems.

On Wednesday he played that heave off Langeveldt in the 170s. But as the 200 beckoned Sachin threw caution to the winds. He knew it was his day. By 150 he knew a fair idea where his runs would come from.

He was leaning on his shot and running, tapping and running and when he flicked he didn't need to run because he knew he had cleared the infield. The straight loft off Langeveldt was grand because he was not quite on front foot.

For a long time one has been waiting for Sachin to play two shots he hasn't, a six off the backfoot as an injured 'Tiger' Pataudi hit at Melbourne in 1968 and a six one from outside the off-stump to over square-leg as Viv Richards would do. Today he came near to hitting the backfoot six.

In the end Mahendra Singh Dhoni added an element of doubt to the inevitability of a Sachin’s 200. By denying him strike at the end of three successive overs. Sachin fans all over the globe were livid. It was luck a Dhoni boundary off ball number two off the last over was saved on the fence and Sachin finally got the strike. Or he would have had just three balls for the magic moment.

After the tension of the previous three overs, three balls to get one run for the magic figure seemed a luxury. A dab to point and Sachin kept his date with history, golden history.

All over the world the refrain was 'If there was one person deserving to get ODI's first double hundred it should be Sachin Tendulkar.' For he had done so much to light up the shorter game when he was asked to open for India when Sidhu was injured.

In a bygone era they said the same about Sunil Gavaskar when debate would ensue about who should be the first to get to the 10,000 mark in Test cricket.

From past pronouncements, Sachin's typical response to his feat would be, "It's not about records. It's about loving the game and enjoying being out there in the middle. That is extremely special to me and far bigger than breaking records or creating new ones. Creating records happens after you've gone on the cricket field, but you've got to find a reason to go on the cricket field, and for me the reason is very clear....

"From the age of three I've loved this sport and I've never thought about scoring the most number of centuries or runs in international cricket. Everyone enjoys breaking records, I'm enjoying it too, but that is not the reason for playing cricket...

"When I started playing, I always wanted to be regarded as one of the best and the idea was that when I stopped playing, people would remember my name. Being regarded as one of the best players is always a good feeling, and that drives you, it refuels you completely. You want to be on top of your game all the time and push yourself harder and harder. There's a huge responsibility and it is a great challenge. I love that."

No comments: