Congratulations ricky, make way sunny, take two for dravid

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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I had sometime ago speculated that Matthew Hayden would be the first among contemporary cricketers to equal Sunil Gavaskars record of scoring a century in both innings of a Test match on three occasions. Then, there is Rahul Dravid who has, just like Matthew Hayden, done it on two occasions.

The player that I left out of that equation was one that should have been placed ahead of Hayden and Dravid, Ricky Ponting! Congratulations Ricky for equaling Sunil Gavaskars record of scoring a hundred in both innings of a Test on 3 occasions! At the rate he is going, he may very well overtake it soon! The reason I say that is because Ricky completed this feat in a little over 6 months!

The first occasion was against the West Indies in the October-November series last year. The other two occasions happened in the ongoing series against South Africa! What a pace to equal a record that has stood unequaled since January 1979! Ricky has also upstaged Rahul Dravid as the batsman with the highest batting average for those scoring 8000 plus runs in Test cricket.

In addition to the above achievements, he is also among the elite to have scored a hundred in his hundredth Test! In fact, he is the only one to have score a century in each innings of his 100th Test, almost as if he wanted to hammer the second just for emphasis, in case someone missed the first one! What a player!

His ODI record is magnificent as well. Can anyone forget the way he took the Indian bowlers by the scuff of their necks in hammering that all important hundred in the 2003 World Cup final? In contrast, the other ODI giant who everyone expected to come out and add to his tally of highest run scorer in the tournament, just fizzed out in the single digits.

The only blemish in Ricky Pontings armor is the Ashes loss. That is a testimonial of the sheer will power of the English team who did a repeat against the Indians at the Mumbai Test.

Rahul Dravid has one more shot, almost like a movie take-two (I was wrong in my previous column about this) at scoring a century in his 100th Test for India. Will he become the first Indian to reach that milestone? I sometimes wonder if Mohammad Azharuddin would have been the first Indian to reach that milestone had his Test career not perished prematurely. The other serious contender among the Indian players, Ganguly, it seems will never see his 100th Test if the current group of selectors have it their way. Sehwag, maybe, but considering his back problems will he last the stretch?

Zaheer Khan commented that India needs to rely on fast bowlers (Im sure he meant fast - medium) to get them victories overseas. One wonders if he was pleading his own cause via that statement. However, given his blow hot then chronically cold streaks, his days in Test cricket for India may be numbered. Especially since Sreesanth and Munaf Patel have come roaring out of the gates.

Javed Miandad in one of his columns recommended India having a pool of 10 to 16 pace bowlers and build a good pace battery that way. Does Miandad see something that cricket India doesnt? Remember, this is quite a turnaround from a man who once remarked that Indian strike bowlers like Irfan Pathan can be found playing cricket in the backstreets of Pakistan! To go from giving such a scathing rebuke to giving sagacious advice is quite a leap of confidence isnt it? Surely, cricket India is improving in certain if not all spheres.

Heres wishing Ricky Ponting many more successes as a batsman, fielder, and captain. Hopefully, Rahul Dravid can put the 99th Test behind him and really go all out in his hundredth and add another feather in his cricket cap. Congratulations to the tireless Kumble for crossing 500 wickets! May there be many more. Indian cricket, though, needs to hurry and find a replacement for him because every "Jumbo" needs to land in for refueling and after so many years they are retired from the fleet. Quite a tall task for aspiring Indian spinners to emulate isnt it?

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