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As he ravaged South Africa A for 248 off 150 balls, Shikhar Dhawan knew he had achieved what only Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag had before - a double-century in limited-overs cricket by an Indian. But even as he finally fell with 32 deliveries still left in the India A innings, Dhawan could not help but realise he could have become the first man in the world to make a triple in the format.
"I was aware of the record and it felt really special to score these runs," Dhawan told bcci.tv. "When I got out in the 44th over it occurred to me that if I had batted till the end I had a chance to score a triple hundred. I am happy with what I scored though."
The way Dhawan went on and on, the India A coach Lalchand Rajput thought the triple was within sight. "Shikhar batted exceptionally well," Rajput told ESPNcricinfo. "I haven't seen a better innings in one-day cricket than this one. The way he batted today, I thought he would get 300. They were clean hits, all proper cricketing shots. He pulled, he cut, he drove. He played all shots today and it was a real treat to watch."
While Dhawan was pleased to be mentioned alongside Tendulkar and Sehwag, he was quick to dismiss comparisons between the knocks. "It did cross my mind that I joined Sachin paaji and Viru paaji in scoring a double-century in a one-day game," Dhawan said. "However, those were two of the greatest innings in cricket history and they came at the international level. So, they are much bigger than my innings.
"I've always loved watching them bat. But I love my batting as well. So, it's difficult for me to pick one favourite knock of the three. This will remain one of my favourite matches because I scored 200 for the first time in a 50-over game. Unfortunately it didn't come live on television but that's fine because I loved batting."
It was a must-win game for India A if they had to meet Australia A in the final of the tri-series. Their batsmen had come up short on both occasions in tall chases against Australia A but had taken South Africa A for 309 in 38 overs in a rain-hit victory three days ago. Dhawan had made 85 in that game and said he wanted to make a larger score today.
"I had scored 85 in the previous match and I wanted to score a big hundred for the team because our batsmen were all getting out in the 80s and 90s," Dhawan said. "A big century was necessary for giving a good total to the team. Once I crossed 100, I was in a different flow. I thought I made a smart choice of shots and things went my way.
"I especially enjoyed it as it came against a South African side in their own backyard. They are very tough to play at home and they play good quality cricket."