In Tests, a batsman scoring a double century was a great achievement, but it was no mean feat. A triple century was. A quadruple century was god’s gift. A quintuple was freakish. Just ask Brian Lara who smashed 375 in 1994, 400 in 2004 and 501 in a First-Class game in 1994. Scoring a double ton in ODIs? That was deemed to be out of the realm of possibility. Saeed Anwar’s 194 which he smashed against India in 1997 in Chennai was the closest anyone got to reaching 200. Charles Coventry of Zimbabwe tied it against Bangladesh, but it looked like 200 would not be made. All that changed on February 24, 2010 in the game between India and South Africa at the Captain Roop Singh stadium in Gwalior. It was fitting that Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest batsman ever, would do what no other cricketer had done in the history of the game and that is smashing a double ton in ODIs.
India chose to bat and Tendulkar got going in style with two boundaries off Wayne Parnell. Despite losing Virender Sehwag cheaply, Tendulkar continued to bat with confidence by hammering Dale Steyn for a couple of boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking. The right-hander notched up his fifty off just 37 balls and Dinesh Karthik gave him good company. After getting past the landmark, Tendulkar dug in and looked to rotate the strike on a regular basis.
Tendulkar tackled the left-arm spin of Roelof van der Merwe and hit him for a boundary over extra cover and paddled him to fine leg to get closer to a century. Karthik reached his fifty but Tendulkar notched up his 46th century by cutting JP Duminy to deep point. At that time, it looked like yet another Tendulkar special ton but there were bigger things in store.
Karthik slammed a six and a four off Duminy and Tendulkar got into the act by whacking the offspinner flat over long on for his first six. Parnell managed to break the 200-run stand by getting rid of Karthik for 79 but that did not slow Tendulkar down as he creamed two fours off Steyn. In the 37th over, Tendulkar cut loose and along with Yusuf Pathan, slammed two boundaries each off Steyn as he piled on the misery.
Tendulkar notched up his 150 by clipping Parnell to deep mid wicket but Yusuf got India closer to 300 by clobbering two sixes. In the 41st over, Tendulkar slogged Charl Langeveldt over deep midwicket to get India past 300 but they lost Yusuf for 36. Enter MS Dhoni. Tendulkar launched van der Merwe over long off for his third six and he went past Kapil Dev’s tally of 175.
Dhoni started off like a train while Tendulkar preserved his energy to go past his highest individual score. In the third ball of the 46th over, Tendulkar clipped Parnell past short fine leg and he had broken Anwar’s record of the highest individual score. Dhoni hogged the strike towards the end as he blasted two sixes and a four off Steyn. In the last over, Tendulkar was on 199 while Dhoni had reached his fifty off just 29 balls.
In the third ball of the final over bowled by Langeveldt, Tendulkar steered a full ball past backward point and history was created. Ravi Shastri, the current coach of the side who was on commentary duties at that time, bellowed, “First man to reach 200 in ODIs and it is the Superman from India.” Dhoni helped India reach 401/3 and India won the match by 153 runs to win the three-match series 2-1.
However, the day belonged to Sachin Tendulkar. Cricket websites who were covering providing live ball-by-ball commentary crashed. In Newspaper, headlines like ‘God’, ‘Immortal at 200’, ‘Two-Tonner Tendulkar’, ‘200 Not Out’ , ‘Sachin ka Chhakka’, ‘Wow’ were spread across. Tendulkar had achieved what no cricketing player had ever done on the international stage.
Tendulkar’s knock changed the complexion of ODI cricket. Many people now believed that yes, 200 would be possible in ODIs. Since then, the world has seen many 200+ scores in ODIs. Virender Sehwag’s 219, Chris Gayle’s 215, Martin Guptill’s 237 and Rohit Sharma’s three double tons (264, 209 and 208) all were made after Tendulkar’s knock in 200. However, Tendulkar will remain the first man to break the 200-barrier in ODIs and that itself is testament to his greatness.