In the last decade and a half, cricket has transformed immensely. Mainly because of the evolution of Twenty20 cricket. Back then, only a select few could estimate the kind of impact the newest format would have on the way cricket is played.
In the early years of T20 cricket, 140-150 was considered a decent score, but now the same score seems less even in difficult batting conditions. The shortest format made batsmen adopt unorthodox shots to increase the run-scoring opportunities.
As the batting has undergone a considerable transformation, few milestones which were far-fetched a decade ago, now seem quite achievable. Here are a few once virtually impossible records that might be achieved in the near future:
#1 Individual T20 double century
Five years back, when Chris Gayle scored 175* for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors, the whole cricketing world was in awe. But the same did not happen when Aaron Finch recently hit the highest T20I score of 172 runs against Zimbabwe in July 2018.
There might be two reasons for the reduction in excitement. One, the team against which the runs were scored. Even though Zimbabwe at the time, were ranked twelfth in T20Is, the team consisted of many immensely talented cricketers. The same was the case with Chris Gayle, who hit the highest T20 score against a hapless Pune side.
The second and the more probable reason is that the high scores are no more new to the followers of the game.
It might take a double century from an individual to garner the similar attention that Gayle's innings did. The magical figure might not be far away considering the number of explosive batsmen currently playing in the international arena.
#2 Team total of 500 runs in One Day Internationals
England came agonizingly close to the 500-mark before falling short by 19 runs in the bilateral series against Australia back in June 2018. The distraught on the faces of the English batsmen at the end of 481 run-innings showed how much they wanted to reach the milestone. If not for the last four overs in which Australia conceded just 31 runs, England would have made 500.
With teams possessing deep batting lineups filled with hard-hitting batsmen, the 500 mark is definitely under threat. Also, conditions in ODI cricket have become more favorable to the batsmen with the introduction of the two new balls rule. The rule only makes the milestone more realistic.
#3 Team total of 300 in T20 cricket
The most number of runs scored in a T20 match is 278. In February 2019, a merciless Hazratullah Zazai swung his willow to a blitzkrieg 162 off just 62 deliveries. The innings included 11 fours and 16 sixes and took the total to 278/3 against a helpless Ireland. The worst economy rate that evening was 24.00 by Paul Sterling.
With increasing popularity and leagues, more and more specialist T20 batsmen are making the three-hundred mark seem not so far away. Sooner or later, Afghanistan's record is set to be broken, and it is quite possible that the next team crossing the barrier of 278 might go all the way to 300.
#4 Individual ODI triple century
Before Sachin Tendulkar scored the first ODI double-century in 2010, the highest individual score was 194 by Saeed Anwar (1997) and Charles Coventry (2009). It took as many as 2962 ODI matches for a batsman to score a double century.
Things have changed ever since master blaster reached the magical mark. The next six double centuries came in less than 1000 matches. This shows the kind of changes that ODI cricket has undergone in the last decade.
With the grounds becoming shorter and the pitches batting friendly, 300 might not come as a surprise anymore.
#5 Fifty in just nine balls
Almost every kid who played cricket calculated the minimum number of balls to reach the half-century mark. The answer is nine balls. All it takes is nine good hits to score a fifty - 7 sixes and 2 fours, 8 sixes and a two, and an even better 9 sixes.
The closest any cricketer got to the 9 balls was 12 balls. While Yuvraj Singh's scintillating innings in the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup ensured India a win against England, Chris Gayle's effort could not help his side, Melbourne Renegades, win the match against Adelaide Strikers in the 2016 BBL.
Yuvraj's first 12 balls: 0, 4, 1, 4, 4, 1, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6.
Gayle's first 12 balls: 2, 0, 6, 6, 6, 6, 2, 6, 6, 4, 1, 6.
With the kind of flat pitches that are now produced for the limited-overs fixtures. If any cricketer, with the ability to clear the ropes with ease, has a field day, then the record won't be a mere figment of every cricket-loving child's imagination.