For a city steeped in the tradition of junior batsmen piling up runs like sky scrapers and rewriting the record books, an individual score of 500-plus is no longer particularly wondrous. Just last year Prithvi Shaw had made 546 in a Harris Shield match. And yet, when Pranav Dhanawade, a 15-year-old wicket-keeper batsman from KC Gandhi School, retired not out at 652 on Monday, the frisson of anticipation was undeniable.
The Wayle Nagar ground was decked up and humming with unusual visitors. Even before the players came on the field, Kalyan MLA Narendra Pawar, wearing a flowing pink kurta, arrived with a bouquet and a posse of cops. A few local school boys, joyfully immersed in their own tennis-ball cricket, were shooed away by the grounds men aware that they were partaking in a slice of cricket history. Everyone held their breaths for the overnight star. Could he make it to a 1000 runs? A thousand runs scored by a team seems staggering enough, how would they make sense of it if an individual got that far?
But if there were any nerves on display, it was from the spectators alone. Pranav, whose father drives an autorickshaw, may have grown up in Kalyan, not quite the cricketing artery of Mumbai, only showed coolth and great self-confidence. His nervous father revealed to this reporter that he often worked overtime to provide Pranav two square meals and cricketing gear. Inspired by Prithvi Shaw’s Harris Shield feat, Pranav had vowed to his father on Monday that he would get to a score that would be near-impossible to surpass. His unbeaten knock of 1009, an innings laced with 129 fours and 59 sixes off 327 deliveries has forever put Kalyan on the cricketing map.
As the game began Dhanawade took guard amidst loud ovation — the photo sessions had begun even before he warmed up and the boy wasn’t allowed the luxury to loosen up or soak in the atmosphere.
“He was sleep deprived and naturally fatigued,” said his worried father. “Usually, he hits the bed by 9:30. Yesterday, he obliged visitors until 11:30 pm. I was hoping he’d be fresher today.”
The concern was understandable. His opponents Arya Gurukul would deceive him in flight now and then, prompting his coach Harish Sharma to scream from the sidelines: “Calm boy, calm. Easy.”
But the stark frailty of the fielding team was getting obvious by the minute. Fielders stood like cones, and the ball was struggling to reach the keeper. Arya Gurukul’s harassed coach Yogesh Jagtap revealed he had just about managed to assemble a team of 12-year-olds to make an appearance in the tournament. Six of their main players were unavailable owing to their pre-board matric exams. “Even three standard nine players opted out,” Jagtap said. “But had we not fielded a team, we could have been denied entry next year. We were playing only for commitment.”
Pranav took full advantage of his underage opponents and the fact that the square-leg boundary was just over 30 yards. He only needed to scoop the ball to hit a flurry of sixes. Pranav’s coach Sharma found the cavilling unfair: “The Cross Maidan too has shorter boundaries especially the wickets for LIC and National,” Sharma reminded. “Sides have played at the Wayle Nagar Ground before. How come nobody got to such a score? I challenge any batsman to hit 300 against this same attack. Give credit where due.” There were two others in his team who hit centuries, Siddesh Patil (137) and Akash Singh (173). But who looks at the bridesmaids when the bride so dazzles.
From his overnight score of 652, Pranav soon breezed to 800. He did so as if a 1000 runs had already been credited to him and that getting there was mere formality. The hapless opposition did its bit by dropping sitters and misfielding frequently. Jagtap, who had been watching the proceedings painfully, gave an estimate of the let-offs: 21 missed catches and three fluffed stumpings. Some of the children who until the other day played with tennis ball were still to get over their fear of the leather ball, he disclosed.
At lunch, Pranav had sauntered to 921, his appetite for runs infinitely greater.
As if sensing the moment for photo-ops was upon them, Kalyan’s additional commissioner of police Sharad Shelar arrived. “Pranav is our Sachin (Tendulkar). The monopoly of Mumbai and Thane has come to an end,” someone besides him remarked. “Look, I didn’t say that,” Shelar laughed, urging this reporter not to misquote him.
Also in the stands was Kalyan’s rickshaw community, each one moist-eyed, claiming to have been a part of the prodigy’s childhood. Pranav spanked the ball around relentlessly and had soon posted his 1000th run. Pandemonium broke out on the field with friends, audiences, photographers and dignitaries all rushing on the pitch to congratulate the star. The umpires were not pleased, insisting the ground be cleared so the match could continue. Their words fell on deaf ears as Kalyan rejoiced. The only ones who looked clearly relieved by the interruption were Pranav’s opponents. They stared at him in shock and awe and happy for a chance to get their breath back.
Taken from : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/top-stories/Pranav-Dhanawades-record-feat-hides-more-than-it-reveals/articleshow/50463448.cms
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