India

Pranav Dhanawade: The Indian boy who scored a record 1,009 runs

Schoolboy Pranav Dhanawade, 15, (C) is lifted by children as they celebrate during an inter-school cricket tournament in Mumbai, India, January 5, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Pranav Dhanawade scored over 1,000 runs in a school game

Visibly exhausted, the 15-year-old boy slumped in a chair at a little-known cricket ground in Kalyan, a Mumbai suburb, on Monday afternoon.

Pranav Dhanawade, son of an auto-rickshaw driver, had just scored more than 1,000 runs in a single innings to set a new world record in school cricket.

An army of reporters had descended to find out more about the young cricketer, who The Guardian called "the first cricketer to navigate the nervous 990s".

The teenager was crisp and brief while facing the excited media after his enervating innings.

"I wanted to score big runs. I remember my coach telling me that no one will take me in the Mumbai team if I score these hundreds and two-hundreds," he told The Indian Express newspaper.

Dhanawade's life has changed overnight after he smashed a mind-boggling 1,009 not out for his Smt KC Gandhi School in an inter-school game for the HT Bhandari Cup, an under-16 tournament.

Pranav Dhanawade record-breaking innings

Image copyright Reuters
  • 1009: Runs scored
  • 327: Balls faced
  • 308.56: Strike rate
  • 129: Fours
  • 59: Sixes
  • 396: Minutes played

An aggressive batsman by nature, he made merry at the crease for over six and a half hours. He faced 327 deliveries, hit 129 fours and 59 sixes, and ended up with an awe-inspiring strike rate of 308.56.

It surely helped that the opposition Arya Gurukul School weren't fielding their first team for this two-day game.

Their senior players were away preparing for an exam. Some of their bowlers were as young as 11. They batted first and were shot out for an inglorious 31 runs in 20 overs.

'Playing on and on'

Dhanawade opened the batting for Smt KC Gandhi. At lunch, he had scored 45 runs. By the end of Monday he was unbeaten at 652 runs. The ground was small and the boundaries came fast and furious.

"When I go to bat, I only keep in mind that I had to play a big innings and after playing on and on I scored 100 runs, 200, 300, 400 runs," he told the BBC.

The family's phones kept ringing on Monday night. Friends and relatives were delirious: Dhanawade had already broken Arthur Collins' 1899 record of 628 not out, and the Indian school cricket record of 546 runs by Prithvi Shaw.

Image copyright Sameer Markande/MiD-DAY Infomedia Ltd
Image caption Dhanawade is an aggressive batsman
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Dhanawade celebrated his feat with his parents after the game
Image copyright Aayush Deshpande
Image caption Dhanawade scored 70% of his team's runs

Tuesday brought with it an avalanche of expectations.

Dhanawade's voracious appetite for runs had not waned: by lunch, he had scored an astounding 921 runs. Spectators and reporters had begun invading the ground during the breaks in play. A few well-wishers cordoned him as he scampered to the dressing room at tea break.

After lunch, he crossed 1,000 runs. KC Gandhi declared with their score on 1,465 of three, and Dhanawade had scored nearly 70% of his team's total. He had his share of luck - a few catches dropped and a couple of stumpings missed by the opponents.

Image caption The record-breaking scorecard
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mumbai has a thriving school cricket scene

The one-sided contest ended with Arya Gurukul being bowled out for a paltry 56 in the second innings, giving Dhanawade's team an emphatic 1,382-run innings win.

The match umpire says he was impressed with Dhanawade's mindset and fitness.

"I would say he was 101% fit [temperamentally], and even after scoring so much he was not tired," Sunimal Sen told ESPNcricinfo.

"Many times we see that batsmen, after scoring a hundred, say 'Sir we want water', but he did not create this type of disturbance. He was very fit."

Life hasn't been easy for young Dhanawade and his family. His father Prashant, an auto-rickshaw driver, has done everything he could to support his son's cricketing dream.

'Nurture him'

Dhanawade had taken a two-year-break from cricket due to "some issues". There was a time when his mother Mohini would reprimand him for not focusing on studies.

His father had worked overtime to ensure his son got a cricket kit. On Monday, they stood beside him, beaming with pride, with tears of joy, accepting the accolades. They also learnt that the Maharashtra government had decided to fund their son's studies and sports.

Dhanawade's innings propelled him to the top of the trends on Twitter in India, where reactions to his innings ranged from praise to shock and disbelief. Sachin Tendulkar congratulated him - "You need to scale new peaks!," he tweeted.

But the biggest - and measured - accolade possibly came from Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni.

"To score like that anywhere in the world, in those conditions, is very difficult. Not to forget the age of the individual," Dhoni told reporters..

"We need to nurture him, guide him, because all of a sudden the limelight will be on him. He will be compared with a lot of individuals who have been very successful. It is important for the individuals who are close to him - his coach, his parents - to guide him to move in the right direction."

For the moment, Dhanawade is still soaking in his new-found celebrity and trying to make sense of it.

"I want to become a big cricketer. I want to play for India," he says.

Big scores in Mumbai school cricket

Image copyright AFP
  • 1009 not out: Pranav Dhanawade, 2015, HT Bhandari Trophy
  • 546: Prithvi Shaw, 2013, Harris Shield
  • 498: Armaan Jaffer, 2010, Giles Shield
  • 439: Sarfaraz Khan, 2009, Harris Shield

Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Mumbai-based journalist

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