200 in an ODI…? Checked.
I personally witnessed that incredible 194 that Anwar had scored against India in the Independence Cup. I still remember going through a mix of emotions as his innings progressed. Anger, frustration, sadness, which slowly gave way to anticipation, incredulous , eagerness, and sheer admiration. I remember most of the crowd feeling the same, you know, where you’d want your team to win, but also an individual to win. I was hoping against hope that someone would overcome that score on the same day, but that was not to happen.
It was close again with Ganguly reaching 183 against SL in a world cup, Dhoni reaching a similar level, and even Tendulkar coming close. At that point, I thought it would be the closest he’d personally come to achieving it.
In these days and times , with shorter boundaries, batsmen-friendly(almost brotherly) wickets, and the advent of the T20, I felt that the 200 would be breached soon. With folks like Sehwag, Gibbs, Gayle, Afridi, Pieterson, it was just going to be a matter of time right?
But somehow, it wasn’t happening too easily. A big reason for it perhaps was exhaustion- physical and mental. It’s not easy to bat for such a long period of time, and continue scoring at a pace fast enough to get your 200 within the format, the expectations of the crowd, the opposition’s fielders, and most importantly, control your physical and mental demon.
It took a 36 year old veteran, one who has not played much of T20s (opted out of his team), someone who has changed his batting style radically, and one who carries an insane amount of expectations which weigh infinitely more than his bat to show how it’s done.
This is not going to be the last time someone crosses the 200 barrier in an ODI. This was just the first. I tend to think that it will be broken again, soon . Maybe even in this very game, who knows. But it will happen again, and happen more often.
But for now, let’s just take a bow and celebrate The First One.