Uttarakhand opener Karn Veer Kaushal became the first batsman to score a double-century in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, hitting 202 off 135 balls in a Plate Group match against Sikkim on Saturday. The previous highest score in the Vijay Hazare Trophy was Ajinkya Rahane's 187 for Mumbai against Maharashtra in Pune in 2007-08.
Kaushal accelerated steadily during his innings, reaching 50 off 38 balls, a century off 71 balls, 150 off 101 balls and his double-century off 132 balls. He put on 296 for the first wicket with Vineet Saxena, who made 100 off 133 deliveries, the highest opening stand in List A cricket in India. The previous highest was the unbeaten 277 that Shikhar Dhawan and Aakash Chopra had put on for Delhi against Punjab in 2007-08.
"I never thought or expected I'd get a double-century," Kaushal told ESPNcricinfo. "I just played as the innings went on. Only when about 30 runs were left did I think that, 'Okay, I can try for a double-century'. I felt very nice when I completed it, but I didn't know then that it was a record. I got to know that I was the first one to score a double-century after I came back to the dressing room.
"I didn't know it was Ajinkya Rahane's record that I broke till you told me now. I didn't even know our opening partnership was a record till you told me."
Kaushal's innings drove Uttarakhand to 366 for 2 in 50 overs at the GS Patel Stadium in Nadiad, and he fell only in the 47th over.
Kaushal had been trying, unsuccessfully, to get into the Uttar Pradesh team since a number of years, but the doors to senior-level cricket in India for him opened only when Uttarakhand became among the nine new teams allowed to participate in BCCI's domestic competitions. "I had been trying to get into the Uttar Pradesh team for the past eight to ten years without success," he said. "In the last two years, I attended some camps they held also, but never got selected. I attended their T20 camp, and also their Vijay Hazare camp. This is the first time that I'm playing at this level. This year I didn't try there, because Uttarakhand got a team. I knew that there is very tough competition in the Uttar Pradesh team, and being from Dehradun this (Uttarakhand) is my state so I knew that there will be more support here and people have seen me play cricket here."
This is the third century for Kaushal, 27, in the tournament, during which he made his List A debut. He had made 101 against Puducherry, and 118 against Mizoram. Kaushal now has 467 runs in seven matches at an average of 77.83 and strike-rate of 122.25, second to Punit Bisht, the Meghalaya professional, who has 488 runs. Kaushal's three hundreds are the most for a batsman in the tournament so far.
The doors opening for Uttarakhand, and his own good performances, have meant that his pursuit of cricket has finally paid off. "This is my profession and my passion. I used to earn some money playing local cricket, and managed with that," he said. "Both my parents are in the police, my father in Uttar Pradesh and my mother in Dehradun. They have both supported me a lot too, telling me to not worry about finances and leaving me free to concentrate on the game.
"Yes, with both being in the police, they did think I might follow them. But from the start, cricket was my passion. In fact, till last year, my mother would tell me that, 'What is this silliness you've got yourself entangled in, if you had studied hard, you'd be in the IPS [Indian Police Service] by now.' But now there is some peace at home and I don't get chided as much'."
In the Plate Group, Uttarakhand are battling Bihar for the top spot. They have 24 points, just two behind Bihar's 26 with both teams having one match each remaining. The team that tops the group will qualify for the quarterfinals. Uttarakhand will play Arunachal Pradesh, and Bihar will take on Mizoram, on October 8.