15-year-old Pranav Dhanawade's innings of 1009 fits well in a cricket institution called Mumbai which has always been excited by the runs column of the scorecard, writes Shishir Hattangadi
Historically, Mumbai batting as a cricketing gharana or institute, has always been number-driven. From the Vijay Merchant years to the Gavaskar era, up to the Tendulkar period, and now in the Rohit and Rahane time zone, Mumbai has always been excited by numbers that figure in the last column.
Pranav Dhanawade plays a shot en route his record-breaking 1009 not out for KC Gandhi School vs Arya Gurukul School in Kalyan yesterday. Pic/PTI
That is a quality that draws eyeballs and rightly so. It is a benchmark one sets to keep an eye on a batsman or bowler. Social media started trending on an abnormal score of 1009 not out by young Pranav Dhanawade in the Bhandari Cup school tournament in Kalyan yesterday. No fault of his, nor are his runs a cross in his box as a batsman.
He needs to celebrate this along with all those who have helped him along the way to play and persist playing a game, I need not stress, he must love so much. Yes, it is a world record and one must expect him to be thronged by the media who will make this a moment in his life that could make him dizzy from one of the thousands playing the game, to believing he is special.
Cricket, if not absorbed pragmatically, can be cruel. It can make one believe something one isn't and that's where the fear lies. Dhanawade's feat is special and he will get all the cricketing eyeballs till his next innings. The number against his name is more than Bradmanesque but it's only a number. To start attaching his name to anybody would be killing a young man's dreamy-eyed hopes of continuing the stupendous feat.
One, at this stage shouldn't get into the quality of the opposition, standard of cricket or even his future path. We have in the past, seen so many voracious run-getters fall away and apart, trying to live up to the expectations of their coaches, parents and society at large. This, without realising the quality of the opposition had changed, chinks in technique were exposed or even a good day at the office was just a flash in the pan.
The watch dogs of the game will be vigilant on his progress and consistency to reproduce this abnormal number and the kid must know it may not happen as he plays quality bowling and sharper fielding. If he is aware of that, it will answer a lot of questions that will, from time to time, crop up in his mind when he won't know where his next run is coming from.
Mumbai cricket gets excited by big scores. I don't remember a single player making the Ranji Trophy side without a string of consistent, big scores. It may have been junior cricket, university, under-22 or even Times shield and club cricket. So to get a cricketing orgasm of sorts for a four-figure score is only natural. The danger is if the kid isn't really worthy of an abnormal number, actually no one is.
Dhanawade needs to forget this number as of today and keep working towards his game and if he hits on a run-famine which he will from time to time, get this innings and more importantly this number, out of his hard disk to remind him of what he is capable of. Till then, he must enjoy this unbeaten 1009 because dare I say, it could be the last time he has scored it, unless I'm proven wrong, something I'd be delighted to accept as a mistake.
Shishir Hattangadi is a former Mumbai Ranji Trophy captain