Indian schoolboy scores record 1,009 runs in one innings

Son of a rickshaw driver, Pranav Dhanawade beat record set by AEJ Collins in 1899


To Mumbai, then, as word spreads that one of the oldest records in cricket has not only been broken, but split, shattered and smashed.

In June 1899 AEJ Collins, aged 13, scored 628 not out in a junior house match at Clifton College in Bristol, the highest score ever made in a competitive game of cricket. The year Collins started at Clifton, one of the school’s old boys, Henry Newbolt, published his famous poem Vitai Lampada. “Play up! play up! And play the game!” Seems Collins took the line a touch too literally. He won the toss, put his own team in, and then batted for the next four afternoons.

By the time Collins was done, he was the most famous schoolboy in England. “Today all men speak of him,“ ran one of the many contemporary newspaper reports. “He will be immortalised in the cricket guides; and his name will shine out conspicuously in the lists of records.“

And so he was. Each year ever since, Collins has had a little corner of the Wisden Almanack all to himself: Miscellaneous Records, Minor Cricket, Highest Individual Scores. In 117 years, no one has even passed 600, let alone come close to his 628. Like Bradman’s batting average, Collins’s record was not there to be beaten so much as marvelled at, a vast and an inexplicable stone monolith of a score that left us moderns wondering how on earth the ancients did it.

Until now.

On Monday KC Gandhi English high school began their match against Arya Gurukul school in the third round of the HT Bhandari Inter School Under-16 Trophy. Arya Gurukul batted first, and were dismissed for 31 in 20 overs. Hard luck, as the old salts say, these things can happen. Especially since most of Arya Gurukul’s players were actually from the under-14 team, because their principal had refused to release their regular players while they were revising for their exams. Seldom can schoolboy cricketers have been so happy to sit out a match.

Opening the batting for KC Gandhi, Pranav Dhanawade, the 15-year-old son of an auto rickshaw driver. In his two previous innings Dhanawade had been dismissed in the 80s, something he was particularly sore about since his coach Mubin Shaikh had told him that he needed to make a really massive score to break into the Mumbai under-16 team. Before the match Dhanawade promised Sheikh that he would score a century. By lunch he had made 45. The ground was small, and the bowling weak. Dhanawade says he has “always been a big-hitter“, and that he “just played my natural game, which is to attack from the word go”.

So the fours and sixes kept coming. Some struck so hard, that, according to the opposition coach, his players just “could not put hand to the ball“. The 45 became a century, which became a double, which became a triple. It was at this point, Dhanawade says, that he started to think about breaking records. Not Collins’s, set so long ago, but rather those of his own heroes.

Fans follow Mumbai school cricket because its playing fields are also the skies in which new stars arrive. In the last five years, three men have made the headlines around the world with monumental scores in school matches. First there was Sarfaraz Khan, who made 439, then Armaan Jaffer, 498, and finally Prithvi Shaw, 546. These three are – or were – the most-talked about teenage cricketers in India today. Khan and Jaffer are both part of India’s squad for the Under-19 World Cup. Shaw, who has signed up with Sunil Gavaskar’s management company and already spent some time in the Yorkshire Leagues, is playing for Mumbai under-19s.

“I had heard about the three and how they made it to the history books,” Dhanawade said. And so these were targets he ticked off, one by one. First Khan, then Jaffer, and then Shaw. Along the way, he also passed CJ Eady’s 566 for Break-o’-Day against Wellington at Hobart in 1901, the second highest score in history. Finally, long into the last session of the day, Dhanawade became the second man in history to score a sextuple-century. Soon after, he became the first to pass Collins’s 628.

At stumps, he had 652, from 199 balls, with 78 fours, and 30 sixes. Dhanawade had made 607 runs in two sessions. He put on 546 for the first wicket, his fellow opener, Aakash Singh, scoring 173, and then 410 for the second, No 3 batsman Siddhesh Patil making an even 100. Overnight, then, KC Gandhi were 956 for one, a lead of 925.

It seems that at first, no one was quite sure what Dhanawade had done. Early reports suggested that he had broken the records for the most runs scored in a day, and the most runs in a Mumbai school match. It was only later, when news started to flicker around Twitter, that it became clear he had just made the biggest score in the history of the sport.

That night Dhanawade travelled to his coach’s house, where he and his father met the press. “Pranav is getting non-stop calls from the media and relatives,” his father said. “He has not even got the time to talk to his mother. She is keenly waiting for him to return home.”

Pranav was already thinking about the next day’s play. Asked whether he felt he could score 1,000, he replied: “Why not? I am confident that I can do it. I will definitely try to score 1,000 runs as I am just 350 away. If I can score 600 runs in two sessions, I am confident of scoring 350 in one session.”

He didn’t quite do it. At lunch on day two, his score was 921. Finally, at around 3pm on Tuesday afternoon, Dhanawade raised his 1,000, having become the first person in history to successfully navigate his way through the nervous 990s. KC Gandhi eventually declared with their score on 1,465 for three. Dhanawade’s contribution was 1,009 not out, from 327 balls, with 59 sixes and 129 fours, in six hours and 35 minutes.

We should spare a thought, at this point, for those unsung heroes, Arya Gurukul’s bowlers, since if it were not for their unstinting efforts, none of this would have been possible.

Sarth Salunke, 20 overs, none for 284.

Pratik Bedekar, 18 overs, none for 241.

Harshal Jadhav, 18 overs, one for 281.

Mayank Gupta, two overs, none for 37.

Swaraj Deshmukh, five overs, none for 80.

Aditya Solanki, two overs, none for 33.

Tejas Missar six overs, none for 142 – figures which, without wishing to be cruel, do rather make you wonder what the skipper was thinking when he decided Missar had a sixth over in him.

And finally, a special prize, surely, for Ayush Dubey, who bowled 23 overs and took two for 352.

As for Dhanawade, he says he hopes to one day play in the Ranji Trophy. Collins never actually played a the first-class game. He joined the army instead. Whether Dhanawade makes it or not, cricket lovers will always remember his name, up there, now and ever after, above Collins’s in the record books.

(Guardian service)

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.