Why Was Saeed Anwar’s 194 So Glorious?
Pakistan’s legendary opener Saeed Anwar was born this day in 1968 at Karachi. The prolific scorer amassed 4052 runs in Test cricket and 8824 in One Day Internationals (ODIs) and is widely regarded as one of the greatest openers produced by Pakistan. The left-hander scored 31 international centuries but the one most talked about was his epic knock at Chennai in 1997.
Saeed Anwar’s 194 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai against India in the 1997 Independence Cup remains a milestone etched deeply in hearts of the Indian and Pakistani cricket fans. It would take another 12 years for it to be equalled and one year after that for the master-blaster to go past it.
When Anwar’s classic knock of 194 ended on the bowling of Sachin Tendulkar, there were still 20 deliveries remaining in the innings. It was a colossal effort which towered over the others for a decade or so. Here is why Anwar’s majestic inning is such a long-lasting memory.
When Anwar swept Sachin Tendulkar’s first ball of the 46th over, he went past Vivian Richard’s monumental knock of 189 against England at Manchester in May 1984. In terms of the number of days, Richards’ record lasted for a total of 4,738 days.
Taking over from Richards, Saeed Anwar’s name as the highest individual scorer in ODIs remained at the top for next 4,470 days. It was bespectacled Charles Coventry from Zimbabwe who equalled the mark while staying unbeaten at the crease hence taking the precedence in the list. In another 192 days, India’s champion Sachin Tendulkar breached the 194-run mark and went on to record the first ever double century in ODIs.
In terms of the number of days record held, Anwar’s reign is second highest after Viv Richards. Next on the list is New Zealand’s Glenn Turner whose 171 not out stayed at the top for 2933 days.
However, it is vital to note that the number of ODIs being played rose exponentially after 1997. While Viv Richards’ record stood unbeaten for the next 945 ODIs, Saeed Anwar’s tally remained at the zenith for the next 1,664 ODIs. Interesting to note that in contrast Glenn Turner’s record which was unbeaten for eight years (1975-1983) included only 48 ODIs in between.
Here is the full list of progressive record-holders.
From 1997 to 2009, there were a total of 10 individual ODI scores in excess of 170, five of which crossed the mark of 180 runs (three by Indians - S Tendulkar 186, MS Dhoni 183, S Ganguly 183) and threatened Anwar’s record. Sanath Jayasuriya at Sharjah in 2000 came as close as 189 before he was stumped on the bowling of Sourav Ganguly.
For Pakistan, however, the innings of 194 was a Mount Everest. A national record which remained untouched for the next 21 years until recently broken by Fakhar Zaman’s 210 against Zimbabwe at Harare in July 2018. Pakistan’s highest score before Anwar was Inzamam Ul Haq’s 137 not out against New Zealand in 1994, Anwar improved the record by as many as 57 runs.
The current ODI record is an astronomical 264 set by Rohit Sharma on 13th November 2016 at the Eden Gardens where he absolutely massacred the Sri Lankan bowling lineup and batted like a dream. The record has survived for 1393 days and 491 ODIs as on date, for how long it will go on, remains to be seen.