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Hitting boundaries, & breaking them

An Indian Test win against England and Anil Kumble joining the 500-plus wickets club would merit separate celebratory commentaries on their own.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 00:24 IST
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An Indian Test win against England and Anil Kumble joining the 500-plus wickets club would merit separate celebratory commentaries on their own. But it’s another cricketing feat that has nothing to do with our men in white that has run away with the ‘It’s astounding!’ prize. Set to chase an Australian score of 434, South Africa not only refrained from being overwhelmed by a hot-out-of-the-oven record, but it actually scored four more runs to win one of the most exciting encounters in cricketing history.

The question of stretching the limits is more associated with track and field events rather than with two-team sports like cricket. This is because the athlete not only competes with competitors on the track, but also with records. No one would have believed the time of the current one-mile record holder, Hicham El Guerrouj, who clocked an incredible 3 minutes 43.13 seconds at Rome in 1999, were it not for Roger Bannister’s paradigm-shifting run in 1954 where he smashed the four-minute barrier. A similar paradigm-shifting event took place in Johannesburg on Sunday when both teams smashed the 400 runs glass ceiling.

What made the one-day match truly exciting was the steep uphill climb faced by South Africa when it came in to bat. Once a chase was on in earnest — and teams with less mental toughness would have thrown in the towel just by looking at the scoreboard — history was unfurling in 50 overs. Pundits may snort at the idea of the one-dayer, which to them is all about pinch-hitting and ‘home runs’. Sunday’s match at the Wanderers shows us that cricketing limits too can be surpassed. And if one looks at today’s top batsmen, one can see the ‘lowly’ one-dayer dictating the style and approach of batting in Test cricket.

First Published: Mar 14, 2006 00:24 IST