In its 22 years of existence of being a cricket ground, Captain Roop Singh Stadium was hosting its 12th ODI that day. Yes, till February 24th, 2010, the only historic cricket event at the venue in Gwalior was hosting the first and only Ranji Trophy final under lights in 1996. The once Maratha warriors’ cornerstone was brought alive and got its name embellished in history books again by another Maratha.
That the man earmarked by the cricketing universe to first break the record of scoring a double century in ODI, only did it was like an icing on the cake. The 40,000+ who witnessed the historic moment, exactly 2 years ago at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium would be envied by cricket fans all over the world. Yes, that’s the moment we are talking about, Sachin Tendulkar becoming the first man to breach the 200-run mark in ODIs.
While the Mumbai Maestro could have achieved the feat easily against lesser known mortals of the world cricket, he chose one of the best bowling attacks then to be at the receiving end. At that age of 36, it definitely couldn’t have been anyone but him to get to the peak 200. Signs of ageing, slowing down, retirement were all laid to rest in the Gwalior venue once and for all.
It seemed as if the all the stars of the universe was aligned correctly that day for Tendulkar to do what didn’t happen in the 2961 ODIs played till then. Likes of Dale Steyn, Wayne Parnell, Charles Langelveldt, Jacques Kallis and Roelof van der Merwe had no clue what to do as none of them went for less than one run per ball against the Master.
Batting for the full fifty overs, Tendulkar made the most of the small but fast outfield scoring close to 60 per cent of his runs in fours and sixes. There were a surprising 50 dot balls too, may be he could have scored another 30 easily in them going by his form. Not that the superhuman feat didn’t tire him ever. He cramped, slowed down but didn’t get a runner.
He wanted it to be his feat, completely. By the 46th over, he crossed the 194-run mark, highest individual score in ODIs till then, shared by Saeed Anwar and Charles Coventry. Probably that day Sachin was seeing the five and a half ounce cherry like a football, picking gaps and improvising at his whim and fancy.
But from 194 to 200 took some time. And soon, skipper MS Dhoni started inflicting some more pain. He tonked the ball with some power and in the 49th over, one of the most feared fast bowlers in the world, Steyn was creamed for 19 runs. First ball of the 50th over went for a six and the crowd realised Sachin, stranded at 199 might not get the strike the way Dhoni was going on.
But the next ball, he sent a full toss to deep midwicket bring SRT on strike. Knowing he didn’t have to do anything else but take a single, as the squirt down the backward point went off Tendulkar’s blade, not only Gwalior, but the whole of India’s heart went racing to celebrate their favourite sporting son’s unbelievable achievement.
That was that, everything else that happened was mere formality then. The Old Master had just climbed a new peak.
PS: Though Sachin’s cricketing clone Virender Sehwag bettered the feat, but record books will always say that Sachin was the first to...