On Nawabs and Near Misses …

Last night, a nation held it’s breath as the India’s finest batsmen stepped up to the wicket. Virender Sehwag — fondly known as the Nawab of Najafgarh, for his dominance at the crease, and Rahul Dravid, India’s captain, walked onto the field with the Nation’s expectations weighing down on their capable shoulders. They were 10 runs away from breaking the cricket world record for “the highest test score partnership by 2 opening batsmen”.
The game had been a high scoring game with Pakistan at 679 for 7 wickets — Shoaib Malik (59), Younis Khan (199), Mohammad Yousuf (173), Shahid Afridi (103) and Kamal Akram (103) among others. On Day 3, Dravid and Sehwag had already put up a grand “403” runs against a much celebrated Pakistani team.
Day 4 had progressed in angst for all involved as rain had prolonged commencement of this much awaited spectacle. Prem Paniker recounts the anticipation.

On January 16, 1956, Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy had opened India’s innings, at the Corporation Stadium ground in Chennai, against New Zealand. They returned with the score of 234 unconquered. When they were separated, the score was 413/1. They faced 997 deliveries, scored 404 runs off the bat, hit 33 boundaries.

Similarly, Sehwag and Dravid scored 374 runs off the bat in the total of 403/0 off 462 deliveries, with 65 fours and one six, at a run rate of 5.37. They were three boundaries away from breaking a record that has endured for more than 50 years.

Unfortunately the record had to wait for another day. Sehwag fell for 254 as India came off for bad light on 410-1 on a day in which just 14 balls were bowled. Sehwag was caught off the seamer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan with the score on 410, an agonizing three runs short of the 50-year-old record established by two of their countrymen.
Despite the turn of events, Indians stand proud that on this gloomy Pakistani day, two of India’s finest captured the subcontinent’s imagination for a short while. The record stands firm .. but not for too long if the Indian team shows such resolve.

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