The first ODI double hundred was scored in match #2962. It took too long. One may expect Viv Richards to achieve the feat in the 55/60-over era. Richards is, and will likely remain, the best ODI batsmen because he combined occupying crease with quick scoring at a rate significantly higher than his peers. He twice scored over 180. Facing Botham and Willis in 1984 at Old Trafford in a 55 over match, he remained unbeaten on 189 after facing 170 deliveries. 9th wicket fell at 166 after which he carried West Indies to 272 in the company of Michael Holding. There were 21 fours and 5 sixes in that knock where others struggled. During 1987 World Cup, he came in facing the hat-trick ball. Took him only 124 balls to reach 181. He had a chance to beat his own record of 189 and also become the first to score a double hundred. Instead he was caught aiming for his 8th six. The second instance was the realistic chance which did not materialise.
Tendulkar, a notch below Viv, was an extremely good batsman in ’90s especially after he started opening. An opener carrying the bat did not accelerate in the closing stages during the period when Sachin was ahead of his peers. There were fewer boundaries and more singles to be run. Fitness regime was different and the bats had not become axes. Tendulkar was an unlikely candidate to score 200. There were some one-off scores close to 200 when scoring rates improved in general. I expected Sehwag or Dilshan to reach the milestone because they had the ability to score quickly in the early overs and carry on batting quick until the last ten. Gilchrist was lower in that list as I did not expect him to pace the innings just to get to a milestone. Watson got very close to getting the first double hundred that too batting second. Alas the target was only 230.
On 24 Feb 2010 at Gwalior against South Africa in the 2nd ODI, Tendulkar scored his 46th ODI ton in the 28th over in 90 balls without hitting any six. The next 50 runs were scored in 28 balls which included 1 six. India scored 264/2 in 37.3 overs at this stage. Enough time to get the remaining 50 runs. at 300/3 (41.1), Dhoni joined Sachin and took charge of scoring. Tendulkar scored 191 at the end of 45th over. There was plenty of time to get the remaining 9. He got those by scoring 2, 2, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1 & 1 while Dhoni scored 68(35). It took 147 balls with 25 fours and 3 sixes. Barely 3 balls remained when the summit was reached. It was an unusual 200. The others to follow used a different approach.
Gayle scored the first double hundred at the World Cup at Canberra against Zimbabwe exactly 5 years later. He reached his 100 in 105 balls after 35.3 overs despite the 5 sixes. At the end of powerplay and 40th over he raced to 134. 150 was reached in 126 balls including 10 sixes. The next 12 balls were dispatched for 1, 6, 4, 6, 4, 6, 6, 6, 1, 6, 1 & 4 for the fastest 200 in 138 balls. Only 46 overs were bowled at this point. After that Samuels took over the demolition job while Gayle finished with 215 out of the team total of 372.
In less than a month Guptill trumped Gayle when he scored 237* in the fourth quarterfinal against West Indies. His 100 came off 111 balls with 12 fours and no sixes in the 35th over of the match. He reached 145 at the end of 40th. With the help of 8 sixes and 21 fours, his milestone was reached in 152 balls. Unlike Gayle and Tendulkar, he remained aggressive till the last delivery to finish at 237* in 163 balls.
Then there was Sehwag who achieved the feat in Dec 2011 at Indore. He reached 150 in 36th over with 16 fours and 5 sixes in 112 balls. When he reached 200 off 140 balls only 43.3 overs were bowled. He was dismissed by Pollard in the 47th over after scoring 219 in 149 balls. This was an innings where the number of runs scored were inconsequential. He played his innings at an even tempo in a way that only he can.
Rohit Sharma scored his first double hundred by reaching the milestone in the last over. He started cautiously but his second hundred was scored in only 42 balls. This innings was a practice run for his second double hundred to set a new record.
Second time around, Rohit Sharma scored 100 off 100 balls in 32nd over. By 39th over he had reached 150. He ensured facing as many deliveries as possible. Double hundred was scored in 46th over after facing 151 balls. Par for a typical score of 200. He hogged the strike in last 4 overs, adding 8 more fours and 4 sixes to take his personal tally to 264. in other words, he scored at roughly 16 an over after reaching his double hundred. And that is the template for a massive individual first innings score. Bat First. Bat High. Bat through. Face around 150 deliveries out of possible 300. A run a ball hundred by 30th over, consolidation by 35th followed by an assault in the last 15 overs. Do not fret about dot balls at the top of the innings as long as you back yourself to hit sixes – plenty of them – in the slog overs.
Tendulkar’s 200 is a link to a different time. It is not enough to get runs in singles and boundaries. The future 200s rely on the ability to wield an axe and make use of the generous fielding restrictions.
Does that mean 300 is also possible? It may not happen soon but whenever a side batting first scores over 350, I will look forward to the second innings where top order batsmen gets the chance to reach the first double hundred while chasing.