A Mumbai teenager’s record-breaking 1,009 not out wasn’t the match’s only startling statistic—one of the boundaries was only 30 yards long, while the opposition was so meagre that one bowler conceded 142 runs in just six overs.
Fifteen-year-old Pranav Dhanawade also reportedly escaped 21 dropped catches on his way to obliterating a 117-year-old world record for runs scored in a single innings earlier this week.
But India’s cricket establishment said doubts about the quality of the opposing team, most of whom were only 12 and not used to playing with hard cricket balls, should not detract from Dhanawade’s history-making knock.
“You have to acknowledge that what he has done is absolutely extraordinary,” cricket columnist Ayaz Memon said on Thursday (7).
“Whatever the quality of the opposition or the size of the ground, the fact is you could give away your wicket after having satisfied yourself with 150, 200.
“But to go on to make 1,000 runs requires physical effort and mental motivation,” the journalist added, pointing out that boundary was the same length for all of the players.
Dhanawade, the son of an auto-rickshaw driver, smashed 129 fours and 59 sixes as he became the first batsman in any class of cricket to score 1,000 runs in one innings.
He soared past Arthur Collins’ previous record of 628 runs, recorded in England in 1899, on Monday and reached the four-digit mark on Tuesday in an innings lasting 395 minutes.
His KC Gandhi High School team eventually declared on 1,465 for three – after their opponents, Arya Gurukul, had been bowled out for just 31 in the inter-school match.
Two other KC Gandhi batsmen scored centuries, 173 and 137 respectively, but have barely received a mention.
Arya Gurukul’s bowling statistics made for grim reading – one bowler gave away 284 runs for nought, while another took two wickets but at the cost of 352 runs.
In their second innings, Arya Gurukul made 52 and KC Gandhi won the match by an innings and 1,382 runs.
The losing side’s coach, Yogesh Jagtap, told local media that he had cobbled together a team of 12-year-olds for the under-16s match because many first-team regulars were busy with exams.
“We were playing only for commitment,” he told the tabloid, revealing that some of his players were more used to fielding with tennis balls and had yet to overcome their fear of the leather ball.
But Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the captain of India in the short forms of the game, warned critics not to play down Dhanawade’s achievement.
“Scoring 1,009 runs is not a joke. It’s a tremendous effort and shows a glimpse of talent,” he told reporters ahead of India’s departure for their tour of Australia.
Indian international batsman Ajinkya Rahane agreed.
“This is a very big thing to bat for one-and-a-half days and needs immense concentration and focus,” a domestic news agency report quoted him as saying.
Dhanawade has barely had time to catch his breath since making history. He’s been inundated with media requests and feted by politicians and well-wishers.
But his father said the fame wasn’t going to his son’s head.
“We have not been able to sleep properly for two days but the attention will fade soon,” said Prashant Dhanawade.
“For now Pranav needs to put his bat to one side and study for crucial exams in March.
“He’s very young and I would be very happy if he plays for India but there are many steps before he can get there,” he added.
There are indeed. High-scoring at Mumbai schools level is not uncommon, with individual scores of 546, 498 and 473 all recorded in recent years.
“Players like (Sunil) Gavaskar (Sachin) Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli came into the limelight at the school stage, said Memon.
“What is really critical for this boy (Dhanawade) is how he makes his next 1,000 runs at the next level.
“If he does it impressively enough then we really know he’s cut from a cloth that can serve the game in India well.”