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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

A song of ice and fire: When Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid fell 3 runs short of a 50-year-old record

Virender Sehwag said later he had not known the world record for the highest ever Test opening partnership had been on the line but that it would not have changed the shot he played anyway.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: January 16, 2021 1:18:24 pm
india cricketRahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag put on 410 runs for the opening wicket in the 1st Test in Lahore in 2006. (File Photo/AFP)

Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid put on a record-breaking opening partnership against Pakistan on this day fifteen years ago, which got them a standing ovation from the Lahore crowd — until a slash of the bat from Sehwag had left the duo 3 runs short of breaking the world record for the highest opening stand.

Dravid, opening the innings in the 1st Test of the series — a decision he said he took on the night before the match — put on 128 off 233 balls and Sehwag scored 254 off 247 balls as they put on 410 runs for the first wicket.

Only fourteen deliveries could be bowled on the final day of the Test — a match often interrupted by inclement weather and poor light but lit up by some of the most attacking strokes ever seen in Test cricket. The match was already headed for a draw. But on the line was Sehwag’s 250 and then the world record 413-run opening stand set by Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy against New Zealand in 1956.

Sehwag slashed his way past 250 but then edged a delivery to the wicketkeeper in the little play possible on the final day. Dravid stayed unbeaten, VVS Laxman came out to play one ball before the match was drawn.

Sehwag said later he did not know there had been a world record on the line. “The world record really doesn’t matter,” Sehwag told ESPNCricinfo later. “I didn’t know we were close to the record until I came back to the dressing-room.”

READ | ‘Mixer Grinder on the pitch’: Virender Sehwag wishes Rahul Dravid

As for Dravid, who had the best seat in the house for one of the best Test innings ever played, said: “I enjoyed the partnership, but we’ll have to see on what happens in 3-4 days’ time to see who opens. I don’t think it’s a long-term solution. We have to try and see to pick a side to win a game.”

Asked to speak on Sehwag’s choice of shot to get out with just three runs to get to break a 50-year-old record, Dravid said: “Veeru plays that way – attacking and positive. He played a similar shot to get from 199 to 200. Lot of times, when people get out, it looks like why did they play that shot .. but when he’s on song there is some exceptional batting.”

sehwag dravid Virender Sehwag is out for 254, leaving him and Rahul three runs short of breaking the record for the highest opening partnership (File Photo/AFP)

A number of records had been smashed in the course of Sehwag’s blitzkrieg though. His 254 off 247 balls was the highest ever Test score at over a run-a-ball.

His 200 in 182 balls was the second-fastest double century in the history of the game, after Nathan Astle, whose effort against England in 2001-02 came in 153 balls.

Sehwag had gone from 183 to 199 in four deliveries. When his 200 came, with yet another slash to third man, the Gaddafi Stadium was on its feet.

At 370 for none, the duo went past Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs’s 368-run stand which was till then the highest opening wicket partnership against Pakistan.

They finally ended at 410/1, which was then the tenth highest partnership for any wicket in Test cricket.

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