Yes, you read that right. I sincerely believe that of all the mind boggling records that Sachin Tendulkar holds the ODI double hundred has to be the greatest by the sheer magnitude of its effect on the game of cricket. Scoring one hundred international centuries or playing two hundred tests are all magical mountains that only the Master Blaster could have scaled. However, when it comes picking one of his records that changed the sporting world in general, it has to be that 200 not out against South Africa in Gwalior. This was a performance that broadened people’s dreams. Every kid who has ever picked up a cricket bat has dreamt of scoring an ODI century for his or her country. But no kid has probably dreamt of an ODI double ton. It is an achievement that the human mind simply couldn’t fathom before that incredible innings. Not even when Saeed Anwar had scored the 194 against India in 1997. From 194 to 200 it is mere six runs which can be scored in cricket with just one stroke. But that one stroke was such a humongous task that almost nobody ever spoke about it. It is one thing to score a 100 or a 200 or a 300 or even a 400 in test cricket but in ODIs with both time and number of balls limited, the difficulty is on a whole new level. So when Sachin took the single off Langeveldt that day to reach 200* the boundaries of human dreams & imagination got redefined. Ever since multiple other batters have gone onto score the ODI double ton but without Sachin’s mammoth effort that day it is hard to believe any body would have even thought of doing this.
Probably the biggest example of such a performance is Roger Bannister’s four minute mile. Till 6 pm on the fateful day of 6th May, 1954 there was only one man in the whole world who had even considered running the mile under four minutes. A task so difficult that not only sporting experts but also notable scientists had ruled such a performance would never be possible. Fortunately for us Roger Bannister didn’t subscribe to such beliefs. It is said that when the stadium announcer that evening tried to tell the crowd the official timing for the race, his voice was drowned in the loud cheers once he began mentioning the time starting with the words ‘three minutes’. The record itself lasted only 46 days but the magnitude of the performance was such that it enabled people to dream and to try achieving something that for more than a hundred years had been considered impossible.
A similar story is that of a 14 year old Nadia Comaneci scoring the perfect 10 in artistic gymnastics during the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. A feat that was widely considered unattainable. It was such an unprecedented performance that the Olympic Games didn’t have the infrastructure to display her score. All the electronic boards could only display 9.99. There was no way of displaying a 10.00. Ultimately, her score was displayed as 1.00. The perfect singularity. A plethora of gymnasts went on to achieve the perfect 10 subsequently but the gravitas of Comaneci’s performance is that it forms the inspiration of all the perfect 10s that followed.
In the world of sports new records are created and old records are broken almost on a daily basis. There is nothing else that defines and exemplifies man’s pursuit of excellence and perfection in the manner that sports does. Every moment there is someone somewhere in the world trying to push the boundaries of his or her physical and mental limits. This constant and unrelenting drive to scale new heights have resulted in sporting achievements that has and keeps defying the laws of science. Amidst all the brilliant performances once in a blue moon comes along a performance that not only becomes a benchmark in itself but also goes on to redefine natural abilities of the human race. Sachin Tendulkar’s 200* is certainly one such feat. These records have subsequently been broken time and again but the biggest highlight about these performances are that they showed the world that nothing is ever impossible. These performances allowed the following generations to strive for achievements that was once considered impossible even in the wildest of dreams.