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Time for Double Century in ODI's - Column by Suresh Menon
by Suresh Menon
Mar 02, 2009
Some time soon - perhaps as early as in the ongoing India-New Zealand series - one-day cricket's first double century may be recorded. We have seen what Twenty20 does to batsmen. Brendon McCullum has a 150 in that format. Give him another half a dozen overs and see what he can do.

Chances of an opening batsman making it - Virender Sehwag is a name that suggests itself - appear bright. Saeed Anwar's record 194 against India was made nearly a decade ago, and the crafts of batsmanship have multiplied since then. The upper cut, the reverse sweep, switch hitting are already commonplace, as is the scoop over the wicket keeper's head. The hoick between orthodox mid on and mid wicket is one of the most productive strokes in the latter stages of an innings.

Twenty20 has opened up more avenues. Where the coaching manual told you to move towards the ball, get as close to where it pitches and then drive through the line, the shortest version of the game tells you - or actually, shows you, since the textbook is yet to be written - that ideally, you moved the front foot away from the line of the ball before swinging it into the stands.

And just as one-day cricket influenced Test cricket - improved fielding, for example, and introduced new strokes into the game - Twenty20 is set to do the same for one-day cricket. When you can land in a new country, in a new continent, in a different hemisphere altogether and hit the first three balls you face for sixes, as Sehwag did in New Zealand, it cannot but open up more possibilities in your game.

When Australia broke one of one-day cricket's barriers, the 400-run total in 50 overs, it was assumed that the new mark would stand for some time. It stood for about three and a half hours! By making 438 to Australia's 434, South Africa raised the bar again; and now the talk is of making one thousand runs in a day's play. Not possible? But till that run chase, you would have said the same about making 800 runs in a day's play.

During that South African run chase, Herschelle Gibbs played a shot that would have had the purists in tears. He swung at the medium pacer, leading with his back leg, swiveled wildly to strike towards third man and then simply heaved, fully confident that the ball would carry into the crowd.

Better equipment, greater fitness, and the trained ability to place the ball between orthodox fielding positions has made the modern batsman fully confident of scoring at a galloping pace. Watch Yusuf Pathan - surely the world's first specialist Twenty20 player - placing the ball between fielders or between spectators in the first or second tiers of a stadium, and you understand how much batting has changed. Bowling, sadly, hasn't kept pace.

It could be Sehwag, it could be McCullum, it could be Dhoni or Yuvraj, but Sehwag is the most likely candidate for the double century and not just because he knows he can play 50 overs if he wants to, and that's plenty of time. He also has an easy familiarity with big scores.

New Zealand's lopsided fields, with short boundaries invite the batsmen to go over the top, and thanks to the experience of Twenty20, batsmen no longer look to merely clear the ropes, they want to scatter the spectators in the stands.

A one-day double century is an idea whose time has come.
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