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By Sunil Gavaskar
It was the final over of the match and Dinesh Ramdin was on 96. His partner the number eleven batsman Sunil Narine had batted quite competently to stay with him and have a rollicking last wicket partnership but the target was too far away and the only interest was whether Ramdin on 96 would be able to get his first century in one-day internationals. The field was well spread out to allow him a single and then attack Narine so that Ramdin would be deprived of getting to the magic mark.
Ramdin had hit a few mighty shots earlier in the innings and having got no runs off the first two deliveries he went for a big shot and only managed to get the elevation but not the distance that he was looking for. Rohit Sharma circled under the ball and took it comfortably to finish the West Indian innings and also stop Ramdin from getting to his century.
India won the one-day series with that victory but all the talk was about Virender Sehwag’s double century during which he set a new world record for the highest score in limited overs international. He made it look simple as only he can, but was it so? Look at what happened to Ramdin, look at what is happening to Tendulkar, Ponting and even Dravid who got 80 odd in Mumbai but was not able to go on to yet another three figure innings this year. There will always be lovely looking 70s, 80s and 90s but what is counted are centuries and thats why they are celebrated with joy and gusto by the achiever as well as cricket lovers.
What the examples given have shown is that it is not easy to get to a century so just imagine what it must take to get a double century and that too in limited overs cricket. Tendulkar was the first to get there and now Sehwag has overtaken him and set the bar higher. Nowhere is it difficult to get a century than in limited overs cricket simply because the format demands that batsmen try and ensure there are very few dot balls and the score is kept moving all the time. So risks have to be taken in keeping the scoreboard moving. It is played at a frantic pace and it is not simply a matter of power hitting but also about running quick singles and twos and the occasional three as well. That is tiring, immensely exhausting. Despite modern recovery methods the body takes more than 24 hours to recover and then there is the mental exhaustion as well.
Virender Sehwag hit many sixes and even more fours but he also ran hard not just for the runs off his bat but for those of his partners. So keen was he to put up a huge total that in that hurry he misjudged a couple of times that led to the runouts of two of his partners, Gambhir and Raina. He knew that both times it was his impetuosity that caused their dismissals and he therefore set about making up for that by scoring the runs they should have got. That is why he was seen squatting when at the non-strikers end as he neared the magic figure of 200.
Tendulkar had shown that it could be done and in the cricketing world there are only two batsmen playing currently who could get to the double. Sehwag did that and Gayle can do it too but he is not playing for the West Indies. If he had been around in Indore and gotten off to a blistering start the crowd would have been privileged to see two of the greatest entertainers give full value for money. Perhaps Shane Watson can also get to a double because he too can muscle the ball and he opens the batting too which gives him pretty much the full quota of overs to get to it.
As was seen by the Ramdin dismissal, it is never easy to get to three figures however close the batsman may be and however many overs or partners he may have with him. There is an element of luck too. Darren Sammy is generally a safe catcher but in the one-day series he has missed some sitters and Sehwag was the beneficiary when he was in the 170s. Luck apart, you need a belief in yourself to get there, you need to back your skills with a calm mind and then take on the bowling. Sehwag did that to perfection and that is why he has the record. He is not easily satisfied so he knows that given similar conditions he can bat right through the fifty overs and if he does that then even 250 is eminently possible.
That is what we look forward to now. It won’t be a piece of cake but Viru will make it look like a piece of ‘barfi’.