Sandhya Agarwal, India's run machine

Published: Monday, October 23, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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To get a name can happen but to a few; it is one of the few things that cannot be bought. It is the free gift of mankind, which must be deserved before it will be granted and is at last unwittingly, bestowed. Talents of the highest order, as are calculated to command universal admiration, exist as commonly as "rare gems".

Of all the possessions of this life, fame is the noblest; when the body has sunk into the dust, the great name still lives. And the name of Sandhya Agarwal, the ace batsman of India, will forever be etched in golden letters for posterity to behold and admire.

Sandhya hails from Indore, the city that produced famous men cricketers aplenty. After consistent good performances in domestic cricket, Sandhya had been knocking at the doors of Test cricket. In 1984, when the Australian team toured India, she was included in the team. But she had to bide her time to actually play in the 11 as Gargi Banerjee and Vrinda Bhagat, who had performed well in the 1981 series against England and in the 1982 World Cup, were still around.

It was in the third Test at Ahmedabad that Sandhya made her debut and was an instant success. In that series, she had scores of 71, 134 and 83 runs with an average of 96. The century at Bombay was also the highest score by any woman cricketer in India. This was only a precursor of things that were to unfold. Sandhya was to become a thorn in the flesh of the opponents', as bowlers had to resort to prayers to get rid of her. Such was her dogged perseverance in the middle.

Sandhya was the epitome of patience. She could get on the nerves of the bowlers with her superb technique. Sandhya was undoubtedly the best technically equipped batsman and her appetite for runs was astonishingly high. Her determination to amass runs was unmatched. No wonder that she is India's leading run-getter in "Official Tests" and has the maximum centuries to her credit, four to be precise.

The Indian team's tour of England in 1986 was in effect Sandhya's series even though Shubangi Kulkarni also got runs. She came up with two astonishing centuries, which included her innings of 132 at Blackpool and 190, a World Record, at Worcester. The score of 190 bettered the then existing World Record of 189 scored by a New Zealander that had stood for almost half a century.

That innings of Sandhya was renowned for two reasons, firstly for the highest score ever in Test history, and secondly for the stamina Sandhya displayed for over nine hours it took to score that. Sandhya's record was broken the very next year by Australian Denise Annets when the Australian team toured England.

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