Jagmohan Garg News Delhi For the record books, a pitch-perfect partnership
“Five hundred,” said Swapnil Gugale, the Maharashtra stand-in captain, checking his smartphone while descending the Wankhede Stadium staircase after making Delhi field for nearly two days in a Ranji Trophy Group A tie. No. He wasn’t referring to the number of balls during his marathon innings of 351 not out or the number of runs that he and Ankeet Bawne made together during a record-breaking 594-run partnership for the third wicket. He was replying to a query on the number of unread congratulatory messages.
Gugale and Bawne’s gargantuan partnership — the second-highest partnership ever in the history of first-class cricket — terminated voluntarily when Maharashtra declared their first innings at 635 for two. The celebration came as a surprise since they were on the verge of going past the highest partnership — 624 set by Sri Lanka legends Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in a Test match against South Africa at Colombo in 2006.
“We weren’t aware of the record. In fact, we got to know about it only after we went into the dressing room,” said Gugale, leading Maharashtra for the first time.
No doubt the pitch was at its flattest, but the duo’s effort was special since Maharashtra was missing captain Kedar Jadhav after being selected for India and had lost the season-opener to Jharkhand last week.
As happens quite often during a partnership as long as the one the duo scripted, the batsmen — just like the fielding team — tend to lose concentration and commit a mistake. How did they manage to dig it in during a partnership that lasted almost 11 hours?
“Even the Delhi players were asking us: ‘ bore nahi ho rahe ho kya? Hum log bowling karke bore ho gaye, tum log batting karke bore kaise nahi ho rahe ho? (Aren’t you getting bored? We are bored of bowling, how come you don’t get bored while batting?)’ said Bawne. “I said, ‘Batting mein koi bore hota hai kya’ (Does anyone ever get bored with batting?)
“It’s a beautiful wicket to bat. We were thoroughly enjoying. We were feeling as if we could bat on for another two days. We were not playing any risky shots.”
While Gugale kept his celebrations in check all through the partnership, Bawne lost his patience and let himself loose the moment he reached 250 towards the end of the day’s play. He took his helmet and gloves off, then shadowboxed and ended it with a fist-pump towards the dressing room.
“I celebrate in a similar manner while playing PS (PlayStation). I had told a team-mate during the (tea) break if I reach 250, I’ll repeat the celebration,” he said.