Test cricket is said to be a game of endurance. One of the parameters that makes one a great batsman in the longest format of cricket is not how many runs that you do make at the end of the day but how much time does one can possible hang out there in the middle. And yesterday, at the Ranchi Test against Australia, Cheteshwar Arvind Pujara made a special record in this regard.
During the ongoing third test against Australia, Pujara became the first Indian batsman to face 500 deliveries in a Test innings. In his 665 minutes’ never-ending stay at the crease, the India’s trusted number three faced 525 deliveries to score 202 – that was highlighted with 21 boundaries. Pujara took the crease after Lokesh Rahul departed at the 32nd over on day two and stayed in the middle till he was removed by Nathan Lyon in the 194th over on day four.
So commemorating Pujara’s epic knock, let us have a look on five next longest marathons by the Indian batsmen in Test cricket in a descending order of balls faced. Note that the first four episodes were the longest by an Indian at the time of their materialization.
Rahul Dravid 270 (495 balls, 740 min), v Pakistan, Rawalpindi, 2004: He was fondly called as the “Wall” by his fans and truly he was the most dependable batsman of his era. With the historic Indo-Pak series leveled at 1-1, India bowled well to restrict the hosts to 224. In reply, the vice-captain – who took his guard only the second ball of the innings after the opener Virender Sehwag was dismissed for a “golden duck” – etched partnerships with almost all the remaining batsmen. Dravid played those 15 overs at the fag end of the day one to remain unbeaten on 10. Later, he batted through the entire day two – finishing on his individual 134 at stumps. The entire day saw the fall of just three Indian wickets with the tourists adding more than 300 runs.
On day three, Dravid reached his fifth Test double – then most by an Indian and later eclipsed by both Tendulkar and Sehwag – and kept batting for a whopping 740 minutes (the most by an Indian) before he perished while trying to reverse sweep an Imran Farhad delivery. Dravid scored 270 and batted for about 175 overs in his team total of 600 – that lasted barely a couple of overs after his dismissal. India went on to inflict a crushing innings defeat on Pakistan.
Brief scores: Pakistan – 224 and 245; India – 600
Navjot Singh Sidhu 201 (491 balls, 673 min), v West Indies, Port of Spain, 1997: After the hosts put up 295 on the board on a slow pitch where runs were not coming easily, Sidhu’s feat at the Trinidad almost 20 years back was a reminder of how Pujara went about his business at Ranchi. The right-handed opener spent 673 minutes at the crease – just eight more than the Saurashtra batsman. Sidhu – who hit 19 fours and a six – too perished soon after reaching the milestone. However, one of the striking features of that innings was that India scored just 196 in the entire day three – that was snail-paced more by an uncharacteristic knock of 88 from five hours by Sachin Tendulkar – with the present Punjab politician crawling from 102 to 196. India managed a lead of 140, but the slow nature of the wicket ensured a draw for the hosts.
Brief scores: West Indies – 296 and 299/6; India – 436
Ravi Shastri 206 (477 balls, 572 min), v Australia, Sydney, 1992: In what was the debut Test for the young Shane Warne who would in future go on to mesmerize the world with his leg-spin, Australia put up 313 before opener Ravi Shastri build up on his career-best knock in the format. In a game marred by frequent interruptions due to bad weather, Shastri reached his fifty before stumps on day two but could only add 43 the next day. However, the former Indian manager hit 17 fours and 2 maximums to make his double hundred before he was dismissed by the debutant leg-spinner as his maiden scalp. Shastri spent some 572 minutes in the middle with his team barely lasting an hour and a half after his departure. Australian displayed some grit in their batting to hold for a draw.
Brief scores: Australia – 313 and 173/8; India – 483
Sunil Gavaskar 172 (472 balls, 708 min), v England, Bangalore, 1981: This innings by the famous Indian opener was the first instance of an Indian playing a knock that lasted more than 700 minutes and no other knocks by a compatriot did actually lasted greater than that apart from of course Dravid’s special at Rawalpindi. Coming to the match details, one name was common on the live score terminal for the whole of day three and four – the name of the original little master who scored 71 and 92 respectively on each day’s play. With the English side relying mostly on pacers, the tourists took some close to 12 hours to bowl those 150 overs of the Indian innings. And the Indian skipper batted all but the last six minutes between the last pair of Madan Lal and Dilip Doshi. In his close to 12 hour long knock, Gavaskar hit 19 boundaries in an innings that was a symbolism of grit and playing the waiting game.
Brief scores: England – 400 and 174/3; India – 428
Rahul Dravid 217 (438 balls, 629 min), v England, Oval, 2002: After Michael Vaughan (195) led the show for England’s 515, Rahul Dravid came on to write another epic that would have India just trail by 7 at the end of their sojourn. Taking the mantel in the middle in just the fourth over once again after Sehwag returned to the hut early, Dravid hit 28 fours in his sublime knock that lasted half an hour over ten. Batting for almost 150 overs, the current coach of the colts would make 31 on the remaining of day two before scoring exactly another 100 the next day and further added another 86 on the fourth day. The only blot in this marathon was that it ended in a mixed-up with Ajay Ratra with Dravid falling short of his ground.
Brief scores: England – 515 and 114/0; India – 508
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