Down the memory lane: Sachin Tendulkar scores the first ever double century in ODIs
“Gets it. The first man on the planet to reach 200 and it’s the superman from India - Sachin Tendulkar 200 from 147. Take a bow master. “
These were the words of commentator Ravi Shastri when Sachin Tendulkar steered Charl Langeveldt’s ball behind point for a single and in the process became the first cricketer to score a double century in ODIs. Back then, I was in my office canteen in Pune and the place had erupted after that historic single.
In my living memory, I have never seen such a scene to celebrate one innings. It seemed as though India had won a World Cup.
It has been six years since that innings, five more ODI double centuries have been scored by few wonderful players and Tendulkar himself has retired from the game. But that innings from Tendulkar is etched in my memory forever.
It may not have been the best ODI innings played by Tendulkar in terms of difficulty of the pitch or importance of the match. But the fact that it took 2962 ODIs and almost four decades for someone to score an ODI double hundred speaks volumes about the feat.
The 50, 100 & 150
Coming back to the match, it was the second match of the three-match ODI series between India & South Africa at the Captain Roop Singh stadium in Gwalior. Having won the first match by a narrow margin of one run, the Indians who were looking to wrap up the series won the toss and skipper MS Dhoni decided to bat first.
After Virender Sehwag’s early dismissal Dinesh Karthik joined in Tendulkar and the two put together 194 runs for the second wicket. Tendulkar was in a punishing mood from the beginning and he brought up his half-century in just 37-balls.
He took 53 balls for the next 50 runs but even then a century of 90 balls was not slow by any standard. Tendulkar’s innings really took off to the next level after the century as he brought up the next 50 runs in 28 balls and reached his 150 in 118 deliveries.
This happened in the 38th over and with 12 overs left; Tendulkar not for the first time had a realistic chance of a double century.
Gets Past Saeed Anwar’ & Charles Coventry’s 194
While Tendulkar was going strong at one end, the others were also keeping up with the pace. Yusuf Pathan who was promoted up the order after Karthik’s wicket did not leave any stone unturned in pushing up the run rate.
By the time, Pathan’s wicket fell and Dhoni walked into the middle in the 42nd over, Tendulkar was already close to 170. Soon, with a couple of boundaries and a six Tendulkar equaled his personal highest score of 186.
And in the 46th over he went past the highest ever ODI score of 194 (a record which was jointly held by Pakistan’s Saeed Anwar and Zimbabwe’s Charles Coventry).
Tense final moments
Now, it looked as though a double century was for the taking. But little did we know that the last six runs would be an uphill task. And this was not because of the fact that Tendulkar was struggling, but it was more so because he wasn’t getting an adequate strike.
The crowd wanted to see Tendulkar on strike whereas Dhoni was going berserk at the other end. It was one of the rare occasions when a single from the bat of Tendulkar brought in greater noise than a six from Dhoni’s bat.
The tension was building and Tendulkar was on 199 at the start of the 49th over. But much to crowd’s dismay he remained on 199 even after the end of the 49th over as Dhoni kept strike for the entire over.
Much worse still, Dhoni took a single of the last ball which meant that he and not Tendulkar would be on strike in the 50th over. So, from over number 45 till now Tendulkar had faced only 8 deliveries. Dhoni started the 50th over with a six but much to the respite of the crowd took a single off the second delivery.
And the 200th run
So, now Tendulkar had four balls to get that one final run and he didn’t waste any time. In the very next ball, he steered the ball behind point and history was created. The crowd at the Captain Roop Singh stadium had gone wild and I am sure millions across India watching the match at their homes would have been jumping in front of their television sets.
In the post-match presentation ceremony, Tendulkar said that he did not know how to react to this. I believe he was being honest here; one does not plan an ODI double century, it just happens.
To sum it up as Harsha Bhogle had once said, “Tendulkar’s journey is about joy and purity and a landmark is merely a comfort stop”. Well, this might have been one of his greatest comfort stops.