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For the records: sports stars who stumped statistics

Pakistan's Test captain Misbah-ul Haq achieved the dubious feat of becoming the highest run-getter in ODIs without scoring a century. Misbah is not alone in the sporting world to be an unlikely topper on a list, writes Nilankur Das.

india Updated: Jul 23, 2013 17:56 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
Misbah-ul Haq,Wasim Akram,Caroline Wozniacki

Pakistan's Test captain Misbah-ul Haq achieved an unusual feat on Sunday. Scoring an unbeaten 53 to help Pakistan win the fourth ODI against the West Indies at the Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet, he surpassed a former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram and became the highest run-getter in ODIs among those who don't have a century to their name.

The feat is unusual because Misbah plays in the team solely as a batsman unlike Akram, who is still regarded among the greatest all-rounders in the world. Misbah is not alone in the sporting world to be an unlikely topper on a list.

The Fifa world rankings have Colombia in the third spot behind Spain and Germany. Now what memorable victory do Colombia have to sit pretty over the likes of five-time World Cup winners and current Confederations Cup champions Brazil? The Samba boys are the only team to play in all the World Cups, the highest stage of international competition in football.

Going by the form they showed under Luiz Felipe Scolari last month at the Maracana to complete a hattrick of Confed Cup wins, a sixth World Cup title next year at home now looks a realistic possibility. They are ninth on the Fifa rankings, 111 points behind Colombia. The last time when Colombia qualified for the World Cup, Helen Moody and Frank Sinatra were still alive.

In tennis, towards the end of 2010, the ranking system came under strong criticism from the players when Caroline Wozniacki, now ranked 10, soared to No 1 on the WTA charts. She has never won a Grand Slam and there she was, towering over the likes of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova for more than a year that followed.

Caroline Wozniacki ruled at the top of the ATP ratings for a year without winning a single grand slam. (AFP Photo)

The last Major Tiger Woods won was the 2008 US Open. Woods had to wait for almost a year before winning another title on the Tour following the scandal.

In the meantime, British Open champion Phil Mickelson - his historic agonies at the US Open et al - and Rory McIlroy have won two each. But even after all that, Woods leads the rankings, Mickelson has just climbed to second and Wozniacki's boyfriend is third.

On Monday, India's most promising archer Deepika Kumari climbed to No 2 in the Fita world rankings, around 45 points behind London Olympics champion Bo Bae Ki of South Korea.

The 19-year-old from Ranchi, who had won the World Championships in the Youth (2009) and Cadet (2007) categories, was world No 1 going into the London Olympics. She was eliminated in the round of 64 there losing out to unheralded local girl Amy Oliver.

Deepika's best achievement remains the Commonwealth Games individual gold. Archery is not even a core event in the Commonwealth Games and it will not be part of the next Games in Glasgow in 2014.

Among regular competitions at the senior level, Deepika's individual exploits are two World Cup silver medals in Istanbul in 2011 and in Tokyo in 2012. Of course she had lost out on an individual bronze at the Guangzhou Asian Games after reaching the playoffs.

Unlike other sporting disciplines, in archery the five legs of the World Cup are the only regular events on the Fita calendar, besides the continental championships. And India happen to be regular participants in all the five legs.

Most other countries, including powerhouses Korea, participate in the World Cup on a need to experiment basis and use the event to once in a while follow where other teams are placed.

For India though, regular participation in the World Cups, and thus a regular haul of international medals which also count when promotions in the jobs are decided, have become the ultimate goal.

Though victories in several archery tournaments have ensured a top spot for Deepika Kumari on the archery roll of honour, she often stumbles in tournaments of real importance like the Olympics. (AFP Photo)

In the more serious competitions like the World Championships which happen once in two years or the Olympics, India are a far cry from what people, judging them by their World Cup performances, hope them to achieve. 'Archers disappoint' is a common headline then. So much for the individual world rankings.

First Published: Jul 23, 2013 16:53 IST