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Ask Steven

What is the highest partnership in an ODI defeat?

And is Javagal Srinath the only bowler to take two wickets in the first over of a Test on two occasions?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Srinath was the first bowler to take two wickets in the first over of a Test, against Australia in 1998, then again against New Zealand the following year  •  Phil Walter/Getty Images

Srinath was the first bowler to take two wickets in the first over of a Test, against Australia in 1998, then again against New Zealand the following year  •  Phil Walter/Getty Images

I read that Javagal Srinath is the only bowler to take two wickets in the first over of a Test on two occasions. Is that correct? asked Mohammed Zulfikar from India
I thought this sounded unlikely, but it turns out to be true. Javagal Srinath is indeed the only man to take two wickets in the first over of a Test match more than once, and - even more surprisingly perhaps - he was actually the first person ever to do it, for India against Australia in Kolkata in 1997-98. He repeated the feat against New Zealand in Hamilton in 1998-99.
So it didn't happen at all during the first 121 years of Test cricket, but there have been four more instances since Srinath set the ball rolling, according to Charles Davis, the guru of ball-by-ball scores: by Chris Cairns, for New Zealand against England in Christchurch in 2001-02; Irfan Pathan for India vs Pakistan in Karachi in 2005-06 (he extended this to a hat-trick with the last three balls of the first over); Stuart Broad for England vs Australia at Trent Bridge in 2015, and Shannon Gabriel for West Indies vs Pakistan in Sharjah in 2016-17. Two wickets fell in the first over of the Ashes Test in Adelaide in 2010-11, bowled by Jimmy Anderson, but one of those was a run-out.
Gus Atkinson took four wickets in his first T20I the other day. Where does this stand for best figures on T20 debut? asked Bob Griffiths from England
The promising Surrey fast bowler Gus Atkinson took 4 for 20 in his first T20I for England last week, against New Zealand at Old Trafford. The only other man to take four wickets on his T20I debut for England was the Gloucestershire seamer Jon Lewis - now the England women's coach - with 4 for 24 against Australia in Southampton in 2005.
Overall, the best figures on T20I debut are 5 for 4, by Malaysia's offspinner Khizar Hayat against Hong Kong in Kuala Lumpur in 2019-20. The best for a Test-playing nation is 5 for 13, by slow left-armer Elias Sunny for Bangladesh against Ireland in Belfast in 2012. There are three other debut five-fors: 5 for 6 by Ankush Nanda for Luxembourg as Turkey folded for 28 in Ilfov (Romania) in 2019; 5 for 14 by Hassan Mehmood for Sweden vs Denmark in Brøndby in 2021; and 5 for 17 by Reo Sakurano-Thomas for Japan vs Indonesia in Sano in 2022-23.
Pakistan's Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed both outscored Nepal's total during their Asia Cup match. How often has this happened? Are there any cases of three (or more) batsmen doing it? asked Raju Soradi via Facebook
The match you're talking about was the one in Multan last week: Babar Azam made 151 and Iftikhar Ahmed 109 not out in Pakistan's imposing total of 342, and Nepal were then bowled out for 104.
There have been seven previous instances of two batters outscoring the opposition in an ODI, and two cases of three. Matthew Hayden made 88, Andrew Symonds 55 and Darren Lehmann 50 in Australia's 301 for 6 in Potchefstroom during the 2003 World Cup, before Namibia were skittled for 45. And Hashim Amla scored 112, Jacques Kallis 72 and AB de Villiers 52 as South Africa (301 for 8) beat Sri Lanka (43) in Paarl in 2011-12.
The Multan match was only the second where the defeated side made more than 100 - in Aberdeen in 2008, Ireland scraped to 112 in reply to a New Zealand total of 402 for 2 that included 166 from Brendon McCullum and 161 from James Marshall. (Thanks to Aslam Siddiqui for these details.)
Afghanistan had a first-wicket stand of 227 against Pakistan recently, but still ended up losing. What is the highest partnership, opening or otherwise, in an ODI defeat? asked Kamran Ali from England
That's a good spot, as there have only been two higher partnerships in one-day international defeats than the 227 of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran for Afghanistan against Pakistan in Hambantota in August. Highest of all is 235 - also for the first wicket - by Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs for South Africa against India in Kochi in 1999-2000.
Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed put on 230 for Pakistan's third wicket against India in Dhaka in 1997-98, but still finished on the losing side, while William Porterfield and Kevin O'Brien also shared a partnership of 227, for Ireland's fourth wicket during a defeat by Kenya in Nairobi in 2006-07.
There have been 12 other stands of 200 or more that were not enough to avoid defeat. For the list, click here.
In a Test in Bangladesh a few years ago, Matt Renshaw of Australia was caught by Mushfiqur Rahim off Mustafizur Rahman. How often have all three participants in a dismissal shared the same initials? asked Oliver Jones via Facebook
The instance you're talking about happened in the second innings of the second Test in Chattogram in September 2017, when Mushfiqur Rahim took a good catch down the leg side of Mustafizur Rahman, to account for the Australian opener Matt Renshaw for 4. The only previous case of three people involved in a Test dismissal sharing the same initials also involved Australia on the subcontinent: in Calcutta in 1964-65, Rusi Surti was caught by Rex Sellers off the bowling of Robert (Bob) Simpson. It was the Indian-born Sellers' only contribution to the scorecard in what turned out to be his only Test: he had earlier been bowled by Surti for a duck, and failed to take a wicket with his legbreaks.
Shiva Jayaraman of ESPNcricinfo's stats team helped with some of the above answers.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes