Seven hundred and twenty-one runs in just 40 overs? Sounds incredible, especially if the feat is achieved by two under-13 cricketers. Only those who were actually present when this fantastic "record" was set up at the Parade Grounds in Hyderabad in an inter-school tournament on Wednesday can vouch for it.
But look up the record books of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) and you would find that St Peters made 721 without loss in 40 overs --- S Manoj Kumar (320* off 120 balls, 46x4) and M. Shaibaaz Tumbi (324* off 116 balls, 57x4) decimating the opposition --- against St Philips. This is the highest opening partnership in any form of cricket. Another startling fact is that St Philips were later bowled out for a mere 21.
It was a remarkable feat by Shaibaaz, who completed 13 on September 22, and Manoj, 13 on December 26. It is understood that the ground they played on was big enough, and that hitting sixes by the two teenagers was impossible.
However, hitting 103 boundaries in 40 overs requires tremendous strength in any form of cricket, and the two deserve credit for that.
There were four other matches going on simultaneously at the venue --- similar to what happens in the Kanga League in Mumbai. So, the setting was not all that easy for all the players concerned, and especially for the fielders.
Former Test spinner and current selector Venkatapathy Raju, watching the Duleep Trophy final in Kolkata, said over telephone, "It was an incredible
achievement by these two boys. To score so many runs in only 40 overs is simply unbelievable."
After they earned a bye in the first round, this was St Peters’ first match in the tournament. They had not played St Philips ever before. It is reported that the St Philips fielders gave up chasing the ball after about 10 overs of thrashing as they were completely demoralised.
St Peters, though, had been finding their feet in local cricket circles quietly in the last three years, according to Harish Kumar, the school’s physical
education director. "We are coming up as a school cricket team in the last three years," he said over phone on Thursday.
He added that the school has been encouraging sports and particularly cricket in a big way. "The school is giving free education to students actively involved in sports. Cricket is the first preference of the boys. We did well in a private tournament last month, winning the under-13 cricket title."
Not many in the Hyderabad junior cricket circles have heard about St Philips. "It is a weak side," admitted Harish.
But irrespective of the quality of the opposition bowling, piling up that many runs requires a huge physical effort, and Harish agreed, "Scoring 721 is not a joke. My boys created history."
The school felicitated Shaibaaz and Manoj on Thursday "the two have become heroes overnight, appearing on TV and hitting headlines all over the country. The days ahead will be crucial for Manoj and Shaibaaz as all eyes will be on them and their performances" and there will be comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli, whose record they broke.
Whether Wednesday's marathon effort is a one-off phenomenon or whether this is the beginning of great careers is anybody's guess.
Chalapathy, joint secretary of the HCA, said, "Just one such effort is not enough. We need similar performances in the future." He added that the HCA would facilitate the two boys and assured that specialised coaching would be available to them, if required.