Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Saeed Anwar breaks record for highest ODI score with 194 against India
21 May, 1997 - Combatting Chennai's heat, Pakistan's Saeed Anwar struck 22 fours and 5 sixes in an Independence Cup match against India, scoring 118 of his 194 runs in boundaries.
Saeed Anwar was one batsman who did not get his due. Perhaps the reason for this is his ODI average of just under 40, but he changed game in many ways.
Anwar brought up his first 1000 runs as an ODI opener at a strike rate of over 85. The next best had been India's Kris Srikkanth with a strike rate of 71.74. Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar later stamped their authority over the bowlers within the powerplay that led to a paradigm shift in white-ball cricket, but in many ways, the trend was started by Anwar.
The Pakistan opener holds a formidable record against India in particular. While his average against Australia in ODIs was just 23.55 and that against South Africa was 17.30, he scored his runs at 43.52 against India and that too at a strike rate of over 90.
In the days when a score of 270 was match-winning, his 2,002 runs against India at such a quick clip are truly remarkable.
The match in focus is when Anwar recorded his highest score, not only against India but of his ODI career. The knock came in the Independence Cup against Chennai.
The heat was at its peak at the end of May and Anwar began to cramp soon after Pakistan batted first. By the time the 19th over arrived, he required a runner in Shahid Afridi.
When Afridi strode out to the field to run for his opening partner, he would hardly have anticipated that he was in for a shift in the sweltering heat of Chennai. Afridi ran for almost 30 overs as Anwar, though dehydrated and cramped, kept timing them sweetly.
Apart from the six off Venkatesh Prasad over mid-wicket in the 7th over, the highlight of his innings was the the 26-run over against Anil Kumble as the opener struck three back-to-back sixes against Kumble.
Shortly, Anwar became the batsman with the highest ODI score, breaking Viv Richards's 13-year-old record of 189. With three overs still to go, Anwar had every chance of becoming the first batsman to score a double century in ODIs but he top-edged an ordinary delivery from Sachin Tendulkar and was caught at fine leg.
Tendulkar, the man who dismissed the centurion, later became the one to break his record as he brought up the first double century in ODI cricket in 2010.
While some have reservations about the fact that Anwar had used a runner to cope with the heat rather than his inability to run, it is worth noting that the opener struck 22 fours and 5 sixes, scoring 118 of his 194 runs in boundaries. There was not much running then that Afridi had to do.
Chasing the total of 328, India fell 35 runs short inspite of a century from Rahul Dravid and a breezy 65 from Vinod Kambli. Aqib Javed picked up five wickets for Pakistan but it was Anwar who stole the show.
Sachin Tendulkar later went on to say that Anwar's knock was the best that he had ever seen - a big compliment when coming from one of the very best.
Anwar sports very good numbers even in the Test format of which he played only 55, with an average of 44.5. The opener may have flown a bit under the radar over his almost one and half decade long international career, but he holds some of the most unexpected records.
The left-hander has the second-highest Test average of all openers in the 90s with the cutoff of at least 40 innings. He also sports the highest average for an opening batsman in the last decade of the 20th century among players having played more than 20 innings. What is even more notable is that he averages slightly better away (45.66) than on the mostly placid pitches of Pakistan (45.36).
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