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KL_Rahul_India_cricket•    Mudassar Nazar
•    Mohammad Azharuddin
•    Matthew Elliott
•    Sanath Jayasuriya
•    Steve Waugh
•    Andy Flower
•    Younis Khan
•    Ian Bell
•    Kumar Sangakkara
•    Steve Smith
•    KL Rahul

What is common to these 11 guys? Yes, all play or played Test cricket. All were or are batsmen. They hail from different Test playing countries. You find Pakistan twice, India twice, Sri Lanka twice, Australia thrice, England once and  Zimbabwe once.

The last name there is a giveaway, when you recall what happened recently at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Well, a lot more happened in that Test match. Highest Test score in an innings by India, the highest score against England by any team in Test cricket history, and that stunner from Karun Nair, which was also the highest individual score by an Indian against the Poms.

These eleven were either stranded at 199 (remaining unbeaten), or dismissed one run short of a double century. The pain is not even imaginable. It is personal and would perhaps take long for someone to get over. Some batsmen get over it and post double centuries later on in their careers; others get dismissed for or remain unbeaten on 199 after already having scored at least one double hundreds in their careers. But there are some who hang up their boots, with the entry ‘Highest Test score – 199 (or 199 not out)’ recorded in cricket databases.

Let us go one by one. Starting with the Pakistani opening batsman Mudassar Nazar. His 199 came after he had already scored a double hundred; so perhaps, the disappointment may not have been so great, one can assume. This was in drawn Test match against India, at Faisalabad in 1984. The bowler who spoiled it all for Nazar was Shivlal Yadav.

Next on the list is Mohammad Azharuddin. In 1986, against the Lankans, in Kanpur the 199 he scored before being declared out LBW to Ravi Ratnayake turned out to be his highest Test score. He failed to cross that mark and convert it into a double ton. Curiously, he also ended his Test career, with 99 Test matches under his belt, falling short by one there as well!

What is true for Azhar is also true for Matthew Elliot of Australia, who had to remain content with 199 for a highest Test score. This southpaw, who played 21 Tests for the Aussies, fell short of a double hundred by one run at Headingley against the English in 1997, courtesy Darren Gough.

After Elliot, it was another southpaw, this time from the sub-continent: Sanath Jayasuriya. He had just got a big triple hundred against the Indians a week ago. The form continued into the next Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground. It would have been amazing indeed to follow a triple with a double. But Abey Kuruvilla trapped him LBW for 199. This was also in 1997, by the way.

Then, there was Steve Waugh, that indomitable Aussie. Interestingly, Waugh’s highest Test score is an exact 200. He got this against the West Indies on Caribbean soil in 1995. He was aiming to surpass his personal best in 1999, when Nehemiah Perry, the off spinner trapped him LBW for 199. That was 199 in 1999 for Steve Waugh, in a match-winning effort though. Strange that the pads come in the way when one gets into those nervous 190s!

Now we get to Andy Flower, the Zimbabwean. His was tragic indeed. Unbeaten on 199. Flower had got an unbeaten double hundred before this disappointing experience in Harare against South Africa in 2001.

Moving over to Pakistan’s Younis Khan. Also tragic, but in a different way. He was run out for 199, at Lahore against India, in 2006. Younis had got a double hundred prior to that, and he went on to get some more, including 313, which is his highest Test score, till date.

Ian Bell will remember his 199 against South Africa in 2008, as that was at Lord’s – the Mecca of Cricket. Getting a double hundred at Lord’s would be any cricketer’s cherished dream. However he was not run-out or trapped LBW, but caught and bowled by Paul Harris. Bell did go on to get a double hundred later on in his career – against India in 2011.

The fate that befell Andy Flower also happened to Sangakkara. After having scored seven double hundreds, he missed an eighth one by one run against Pakistan in 2012. He was stranded at the non-striker’s end when number-11 was dismissed. Sanga however went on to get some more double hundreds and even a triple, ending his Test career with 38 three-figure scores.

That brings us to the young guns of this decade – Captain Smith and Lokesh Rahul. Smith, after being dismissed for 199 by Jerome Taylor at Sabina Park in 2015, got to his double hundred a month later, against the Poms at Lord’s. Perhaps it was destined that he should get his first double hundred at the Mecca of Cricket. For a batsman of Steve Smith’s caliber, that is how it should be.

And that brings us to December 2016 and the time of writing, to our own KL Rahul… thirty years after Azhar was dismissed on 199. Rahul will get there in good time… Just wait and watch.

 

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G Venkatesh (born 1972) is a senior lecturer in Energy and Environment, at Karlstad University in S...

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