A thousand runs in a single innings. It’s never happened before, and it may never happen again. It may not have even happened at all, but I’ll get on to that. 15-year-old Pranav Dhanawade this morning resumed his innings on 652 unbeaten runs in a HT Bhandari Cup match in Mumbai, and shortly after lunch reached the formidable four-figure mark, before his team KC Gandhi School declared on 1465-3. It’s particularly impressive, granted, but there are a few alarming factors in this demolition that I’d like to scrutinise before admiring it too much.
The game in question was a two day under-16’s game competed between Dhanawade’s school team and another Mumbai school, Arya Gurukul. However, according to the opposition coach, “The boys playing for my team were actually from U-14 and most of them playing for the first time. My U-16 team players who were supposed to participate could not come as the principal could not release them due to 10th exams. The boys were under prepared. In fact, such was the impact of his shots that they could not put hand to the ball”. This to me, seems like the teams were severely unbalanced from the outset.
Once the game was underway, before Dhanawade even came to the crease, this potential unbalance was confirmed, with KC Gandhi rattling through Arya Gurukul particularly quickly, bowling them out for just 31 runs in 20 overs. Now, I’ll accept that at this stage plenty of factors could have been in play here – a dodgy pitch, particularly good bowling, perhaps even a trigger-happy umpire, but I’d take that to be at the very least a second indication that, believe it or not, the teams might be a little unbalanced.
Assuming that this is all true, I’d like to take a moment to point out the absolutely diabolical sportsmanship shown here. A team, scoring at 15 runs per over for any significant length of time against a group of first-time cricketers two years younger than them, should never, ever, let it get to this stage. There is just no excusing it whatsoever. Not only will these kids be put off of cricket for life, but there’s got to be a serious, unnecessary risk of injury associated with pinging a cricket ball at them so hard and so frequently.
Overnight, he was reported to have scored 652* from 199 balls, including 78 fours and 30 sixes. Incredible. Upon reaching 1009* from 327 balls, the scorecard shows that he hit 129 fours and 59 sixes. Incredible? Certainly so, since he seems to have actually lost some of the runs that he earned the last day. 652, plus an additional 51 fours, plus an additional 29 sixes, equals 1030*. He’s either been shortchanged 21 runs (not including however many he ran between the wickets today) or there’s been some wizardry with the scores along the way.
Even more discrepancies with the score indicate either a lack of attention to detail by the scorers or simply a lack of ability to count as quickly as Pranav could score runs. For example, between 729* and 804* he miraculously managed to score 75 runs (in 13 minutes) whilst only increasing his team’s score by 51. Perhaps they wanted to make it fairer for the poor Arya Gurukul team after all. This indeed doesn’t show that he scored less than 1009 runs, but it certainly suggests that whoever was tallying up the runs in this game might not have done so accurately.
Also noteworthy is that he managed to score at a strike rate of over three hundred but the video coverage of his innings shows very few aggressive strokes and an abundance of blocks, nudges and nurdles. Again, this doesn’t prove much, over a period of 327 balls there’s room for anything, but it still makes it difficult to imagine that he scored a whopping 87% of his runs in boundaries. Maybe they missed most of the sixes in their “live” coverage.
All in all, it’s still a phenomenal achievement (if not completely fabricated, which I’m not even going to touch on), but is it really something to celebrate him as a hero for? Bashing a bunch of u14 debutants that are half his size around a tiny pitch without thought for sportsmanship? Besides, he looks about 30.