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October 20 down the years

See ball, hit ball

Birth of a batsman who knows no fear

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Virender Sehwag: can cause irreparable damage once he gets going
Virender Sehwag: can cause irreparable damage once he gets going © AFP
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1978
A swashbuckling batsman is born. Virender Sehwag drew comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar when he burst onto the international stage with a debut century against South Africa in 2001-02. An irresistible sight when on song, Sehwag changed the way India perceived openers. He will always be associated with India's first triple-century - in Multan in 2003-04, though he went on to score the quickest one in Test cricket, off just 278 balls, four years later. His 319 against South Africa was the highest score by an Indian, and in the process he became only the third batsman, after Don Bradman and Brian Lara, to pass 300 twice in Tests. A tough tour of Sri Lanka followed, but Sehwag illuminated Galle with 251 runs in another famous overseas win. He nearly made it three triples in 2009, scoring a scintillating 293 at the Brabourne Stadium against Sri Lanka. Between November 2009 and October 2010, Sehwag scored five half-centuries and six hundreds in 15 innings. In December 2011, he became the second man to score a one-day double-hundred, going past Tendulkar's score to make a world-record 219 against West Indies in Indore. But his Test form had slipped by then. During the England tour in the summer of 2011, Sehwag, still recovering from a shoulder injury, was called up to Edgbaston bolster India's struggling batting order. He got his first pair in Tests in the match. He went 30 innings without a Test hundred before making one against England in Ahmedabad in 2012, but was dropped after failing against Australia at home.

1966
A streak of White Lightning hit Bloemfontein. In his pomp Allan Donald, the first South African to take 300 Test wickets, was a marvellously athletic, irresistibly hostile fast bowler who also gave sterling service to Warwickshire. His values were rooted in an age where opponents sledged hard and then met for a beer at the close, and few who witnessed his ferocious duel with Mike Atherton at Trent Bridge in 1998 will forget it. He was a bowler who lived for the challenges offered by the very best (he dismissed Brian Lara six times in only eight Test innings) although he never got the better of Australia - he was the man who was run out at the end of that traumatic World Cup semi-final in 1999 - and his career slowly petered out as injuries took their toll.

1996
The day when it all finally came together with the bat for Wasim Akram. In the first Test against Zimbabwe in Sheikhupura he pounded a monumental unbeaten 257, the highest score by a No. 8 in Tests. It included 12 sixes, beating the record previously held by Wally Hammond, who hit 10 in his 336 in Auckland in 1932-33. Wasim also added a Test-record 323 for the eighth wicket in a chalk-and-cheese partnership with Saqlain Mushtaq, who took 359 balls (only four fewer than Wasim) over his 79. Not entirely surprisingly, the match ended in a draw.

1963
Birth of a batsman who in his prime haunted the dreams of spin bowlers the world over. Navjot Sidhu had an unusual block-block-block-thwack method that lent itself to slowly compiled, boundary-laden centuries. Against Sri Lanka in Lucknow in 1992-93 he made 124 off 223 balls, but the innings included eight sixes and nine fours - take those away and he made 40 off 206 balls. He could stonewall when the situation demanded (his 201 in Trinidad in 1996-97 took more than 11 hours) but he was also a master of the calculated assault. He set the tone for England's disastrous Indian tour of 1992-93 by smashing John Emburey for nine sixes, all over long-on, before the international matches had even begun, and he took Shane Warne to the cleaners in 1997-98. A popular and extremely eccentric TV commentator in his second career, he was also found guilty on homicide charges in an incident dating to 1988, before the Supreme Court of India stayed the three-year conviction.

1995
A historic day for Sri Lankan cricket. They beat West Indies in the Sharjah final to win their first one-day series involving more than two teams. The usual suspects set them up for victory: Aravinda de Silva caressed a 31-ball 50 and Muttiah Muralitharan took 3 for 31 to wrap up a comfortable 50-run win. It was a warning that the cricket world failed to heed - four months later Sri Lanka went into the World Cup as underdogs and went all the way to victory in the final in Lahore.

1957
Birth of the England captain who couldn't get into the ground. When Chris Cowdrey was called up from nowhere to be England's third captain of the summer for the fourth Test against West Indies in 1988, a Headingley attendant did not recognise him and would not let him into the car park. Cowdrey played only one match as captain. England were routed by 10 wickets, and when a bruised foot made him doubtful for the next match, the selectors cut their losses and replaced him with Graham Gooch. Cowdrey had been a controversial choice in the first place - he was the godson of the chairman of selectors, Peter May - because even though he was a fine captain, he was never a Test-class allrounder.

1947
Younis Ahmed, born today, is a popular choice for trivia enthusiasts. He made his first-class debut at 14 in 1961-62, and set a new record by appearing in Test cricket after a 17-year gap. He played twice against New Zealand in 1969-70, and returned at 39 to make two more appearances against India in 1986-87, but that was his lot at the top level. Throughout his career Younis was an outstanding county player for Surrey, Worcestershire and Glamorgan. He even had hopes of playing for England, but was denied by a change in the qualification laws.

Other birthdays
1859 George Studd (England)
1917 Ken Cranston (England)
1954 Suru Nayak (India)
1970 Shane George (Australia)
1976 Mark Wagh (England)
1977 David Sewell (New Zealand)
1980 Fazl-e-Akbar (Pakistan)
1981 Aavishkar Salvi (India)
1986 Robiul Islam (Bangladesh)
1991 Mitchell Marsh (Australia)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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