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Viv Richards' 189 runs still more magical than Rohit Sharma's 264
The world has been going gaga over Rohit Sharma's record breaking 264 runs, making him the first international player in the history of world cricket to score more than 250 runs in an innings. Many claim it to be the greatest ODI innings among the list of top ODI knocks. But, I do not belong to that group of many, but few, who may think of that Viv Richards' innings at Old Trafford against England in 1984 to be a magical ODI innings, where he amassed 189 runs.

The word magical is being used a number of times in cricket nowadays that the word has lost its magic. Every century is described as a magical knock. No doubt, Rohit Sharma played a magical innings, hence will find a special place in world cricket. If one describes Rohit Sharma's achievement as magical, what would would you call Vivian Richards innings of 189 runs in 1984? The Oxford dictionary needs to invent a new word to define Viv Richards' innings.

With all due respect to Rohit's innings, would he have scored the same number of runs, if he was pitted against the likes of Ian Botham, Willis, Miller and Pringle. Vivian Richards took these bowlers on and tonked them all around the park en route to his innings of 189 runs, while Rohit Sharma faced bowlers such as Matthews, Kulasekara, Eranga, Perera, Mendis and Prasanna. Would any of these Lankan bowlers find a place in the starting eleven during the early 80s?

These bowlers looked ordinary, in fact it resembled net practise for Rohit Sharma, who was bowled at by some academy students. He simply toyed around with these bowlers. Add to it, the Sri Lankan fielders dropped a number of catches as well to let Rohit Sharma off the hook. But, the same cannot be said for the English bowlers who were tormenting the West Indian batsmen during the game at Old Trafford.

Vivian Richards walked into bat as usual with a chewing gum in his mouth. His arrival always instilled fear in the opponents mind, irrespective of the situation. The score read 11 for 2 wickets when he walked into the batting crease with a body language which had self confidence written all over it.

As routine, Richards began to attack the bowlers, inspite of wickets falling like a pack of cards at the other end. He was not perturbed, as he rode on his confidence. He knew if he lasted till the 55th over, his team would be in a commanding position.

The Indian batsman on the other hand was never under pressure to score runs and stabilise the Indian innings. In fact, he had the liberty to score freely, which he clearly took advantage of.

Richards finished 189 not out, but what stood out in his innings was the way he managed to score those runs with tailenders at the other end. They had not even reached 100 runs when their sixth wicket was down in the form of Dujon. West Indies were in fact 166 for 9 when the 11th batsman Garner walked into bat and Richards was four runs away from an incredible hundred.

Little did one realise during the time that that Richards had some higher ambitions as he went into a frenzy of sixes and fours, scoring 189 runs in the process with a last wicket partnership of 106 runs. He remained unbeaten on 189 with 21 fours and 5 sixes.

None of the top eight batsmen from the West Indies batting line up could reach double figures, which includes batsmen such as Greenidge, Haynes, Richardson, Llyod, all of whom were considered to be one of the finest batsman during their time. This establishes the quality of the English bowlers, who somehow were not able to understand the magical act of Richards.

The bowlers were assisted by the pitch, which offered some movement and good bounce. It was a tough ask for the West Indian to score runs when the ball was moving and talking as well. Only a person with special talent would have fought those bowlers and outsettle them. On the contrary, the pitch at Eden Gardens offered assistance to the batsmen. The flat placid tracks made scoring easier for Rohit Sharma after he spent some overs in the crease. It was a win win situation for the Indian batsmen, who have been born playing under such conditions.

Moreover, it is also the development of the game in recent years, which has made run scoring easy. During the days of Richards, there were no boundary ropes, and even if it existed, it would be right near the fence. So, the grounds used to be bigger than what it is today.

For the sake of entertainment, the present days grounds bring the boundary ropes in, hence one does not need to clear the ground for a maximum hit as well. Earlier, scoring a six meant, it had to be a clean hit well over the fence. Apart from the size of the grounds, it is also the bat that are used by cricketer nowadays, which astounds former cricketers, who used to play with a heavy bat. Batting for a day were a toil those days due to the heavy bats.

Bats these days come with so thick edges that even mishits have started to clear the fence with ease, which is very demoralising for the bowlers. And the new rules, which are laid by the ICC also seems to favour the batsmen. The game has lost its competitive nature between the bat and the ball, which is a real threat to mere existence of ODI cricket.

Having said the above, without a shadow of doubt, Rohit Sharma's innings will be remembered for years to come as 'one of the greatest ODI knocks', but I am yet to be convinced as the best knock ever for the sheer brilliance of that 189 runs by Viv Richards stand tall over all knocks for me.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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