Having already broken the record for the highest score in all known cricket, Pranav Dhanawade told his father he would ‘score big tomorrow’, and proceeded to smash his way to a life-changing 1009 not out
On Monday morning, Prashant Dhanawade was plying his autorickshaw as usual around Kalyan, a sleepy northern suburb of Mumbai, when he got a phone call from a friend. “Go to the Union Cricket Academy ground,” his friend said. “Your son has scored 300 and doesn’t look like slowing down.”
Prashant called his wife Mohini and asked her to light up the house in celebration, then rushed to the ground. He watched Pranav score another 300 runs, then returned with Mohini the next morning to watch him cross four figures and break just about every school-batting record.
By Tuesday evening the modest neighbourhood of Wayale Nagar, where the ground is located, was Cricket Central.
“Arre, BBC wale pan yeto aahe! Ho at-tach phone aala [The BBC guys are on their way! They just called],” said a stray voice at the ground.
Prashant and Mohini struggled to catch their breath in between boundary-side interviews, while Pranav, after spending 396 minutes at the crease, took the field in his wicketkeeping attire, which he gave up after a few overs to field at slip.
Whatever else life holds for the Dhanawades, these two days will be unforgettable. However small the ground and however weak the opposition, this record is now Pranav’s. His name is in the books. His name figured in all the tweets. Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni praised him, and even Michael Atherton mentioned his achievement in commentary during the Cape Town test between South Africa and England.
“I wasn’t at the ground,” Prashant says. “Pranav’s friend’s father called me up and told me that Pranav has scored a triple-century. I couldn’t believe it. By the time I reached the ground he had crossed 350, and went on and on, breaking record after record, and we didn’t even know that he was breaking them. After going home at night, he himself told me, ‘papa, kal bada score karunga’ [dad, I will score big tomorrow], and today he crossed 1000.”
Pranav’s mother wasn’t aware of the records her son was steadily breaking. “I was at home when [Prashant] called me and asked me to deck up the house. “Your son has scored 300,” he said. He kept calling me from the ground and updating me on his scores, but I didn’t realise anything till it was night. I thought he was just batting well. But when he got home I realised the magnitude of what he had achieved, and I couldn’t have been prouder.”
Everyone was celebrating, even the opposition bowlers – who knew their names would also be part of the record.
“Usne mujhe 33 runs maara do over mein [He hit me for 33 runs in two overs], aur do six bhi maara [and also smashed two sixes of me],” Mayank Gupta, tiny and barely out of his puppy fat, says in a chirpy voice filled with pride. Then he points, one after the other, to two of his team-mates. “Usne usko 200 runs maara aur usko bhi [He smacked him for 200 runs, and him too].”
None of this was planned, of course, but it was no accident either. Harish Sharma, Pranav’s school coach, said he promoted the wicketkeeper to open the batting after a chat with him, and asked him to hang in there and build an innings.
“During friendly school matches I sent him in at No. 7 or 8, and when the team needed him the most, he would play a rash shot and get out,” Harish says. “He has a good technique, a wide range of strokes and he’s quite powerful. I then thought that I can send him as an opener and I asked him if he was ready. He grabbed the opportunity and said ‘yes sir, I’ll go’. I made him promise me that if you’re going to open, you have to spend time at the wicket, for which you have to be mentally and physically prepared, to which he agreed.”
The score was Pranav’s first century in any tournament recognised by the Mumbai Cricket Association. “But he has otherwise scored centuries in school cricket and friendly matches,” his father points out. “His game is such that he scores quickly – with that kind of game there are very few chances of scoring a century; he would bat lower down the order because of which he wouldn’t get to face many balls. But now that he opens, he has all the time to score.”
What does the future hold for Pranav? On one hand is the example of Sachin Tendulkar, whose feats of heavy run-scoring as a schoolboy, including the famous partnership with Vinod Kambli, are the stuff of legend. On the other is that of AEJ Collins, who held the previous record score of 628 not out, scored in 1899.
“For a while Collins was public property,” Martin Williamson wrote on ESPNcricinfo.
“Today all men speak of him,” wrote one newspaper. “He has a reputation as great as the most advertised soap: he will be immortalised.”
But Collins never played first-class cricket. It is too early, therefore, to tell what Pranav’s future will look like. But one thing is for sure. Nothing will be the same when he walks out to bat the next time.
His cousin Rugved Lad puts it in perspective. “He’s in tenth [grade] now, so cricket had taken the back seat to studies, though he’s good at both. He also plays kabbadi. But after this, everything has changed. Cricket will definitely be his first priority.”
His school, his neighbourhood club, pretty much every IPL franchise, his Ranji Trophy team, the millions across the world who were following the updates on his feat – everyone hopes it will. (cricinfo article by Srikanth Ravishanker)