The cricketing fraternity, just like everyone else on the globe, has had to suspend all operations in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the entire world, claiming over 58,000 lives. While the 2020 Indian Premier League has been postponed to April 15 from the earlier date of March 29, it is unlikely that the tournament will go ahead on that date as well. With the entire cricketing shop shut for now, it is a good time to look back on some interesting historical nuggets from the game.
In cricket, it has been often said that records are made to be broken. Most of the prominent records are held by legends of the game, as expected. Indian great Sachin Tendulkar holds the record for most runs in Tests and ODIs and most hundreds in both formats. Muttiah Muralitharan has claimed most wickets in Tests as well as one-dayers.
In this feature though, we look at three unexpected records held by Indian cricketers that reistablish the fact the sport is a game of glorious uncertainties.
#1. Stuart Binny: Best bowling figures in ODIs for India
You would expect someone like Anil Kumble or Javagal Srinath to hold the record for best figures in one-dayers considering their fine ODI records. Well, Kumble did possess the honour for 21 years. He claimed an unforgettable 6 for 12 to destroy West Indies in the 1993 Hero Cup final at Kolkata. However, the current holder of the record is Stuart Binny, someone Sanjay Manjrekar might refer to as a ‘bits and pieces’ player.
With his gentle medium pace, no one expected Binny to be much of a threat with the ball. Yet in the second ODI at Dhaka, during India’s tour of Bangladesh in 2014, the hosts were completely bamboozled by Binny’s bowling.
Bangladesh needed only 106 to clinch the contest after Taskin Ahmed’s 5 for 28 had rolled over India for 105. However, Binny responded with incredible figures of 6 for 4 in 4.4 overs as the hosts were bundled out for 58 in 17.4 overs. The medium pacer’s victims included Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain.
Bangladesh had no answer to Binny’s swinging deliveries on the day, and his figures remain the best by an Indian in ODIs till date.
#2. Ajit Agarkar: Fastest ODI fifty by an Indian
Former India cricketer Ajit Agarkar was touted as India’s big all-round hope after Kapil Dev. However, he fell well short of expectations. While he did rather well with the ball, especially in ODIs, a format in which he finished with a highly creditable 288 wickets, his Test batting was renowned for the consecutive ducks in the Test series in Australia in 1999-00, followed by two more when Australia visited India a year later.
However, Agarkar could bat. And, he proved that in no uncertain terms in the 5th ODI of the series against Zimbabwe at Rajkot in December 2000. Coming into bat at number eight, the slimly-built Agarkar dashed his way to an unbeaten 67 from merely 25 balls. He reached his half-century off 21 balls, and this remains the fastest fifty by an Indian in one-day internationals.
Agarkar hit seven fours and four sixes in his unbeaten knock as India posted 301 for 6 batting first. Agarkar shone with the ball as well, claiming 3 for 26. Following this fantastic performance, there were hopes that the Mumbai lad would go on to achieve his potential as an all-rounder. But, that wasn’t to be the case.
His smashing 67 not out at Rajkot thus stands as a standalone reminder of the kind of destructive batsman Agarkar could have been, but never became.
Intriguingly, the Wall Rahul Dravid shares the record for the joint second-fastest fifty by an Indian with Kapil Dev, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh. In the 9th match of the TVS Cup against New Zealand at Hyderabad in November 2003, Dravid smashed an unbeaten 50 from 22 balls with five fours and three sixes at a strike rate of 227.27.
#3. Nilesh Kulkarni: Wicket with first ball in Test cricket
Not many would remember Nilesh Kulkarni, the lanky left-arm spinner from Mumbai. The former cricketer, who turned 47 recently played only three Tests and 10 ODIs in a stop-start career from 1997 to 2001, claiming 2 and 11 wickets respectively. However, Kulkarni has a unique record to his name.
Kulkarni made his debut in Colombo Test against Sri Lanka in August 1997, the same match in which the hosts amassed a record score of 952 for 6, built around Sanath Jayasuriya’s 340 and Roshan Mahanama’s 225. Ironically, it was in this very innings that Kulkarni got a wicket with the first ball he bowled. He dismissed opener Marvan Atapattu, caught behind by Nayan Mongia for 26 from 31 balls.
Little did Kulkarni know at that point that he would end up picking only one other wicket in his Test career. In the Colombo Test, the former left-arm spinner finished with unimpressive figures of 1 for 195 in 70 overs as the Sri Lankan players punished all the Indian bowlers.
The famous Chennai Test of 2001 against Australia in which Kulkarni dismissed Matthew Hayden for 35 in the second innings turned out to be his last international match. Kulkarni, though will forever be remembered for his rare feat against Sri Lanka at Colombo.