Gugale: 'We could have batted on for another two days'

"It’s a beautiful wicket to bat. We were thoroughly enjoying batting here. We were feeling as if we could bat on for another two days. We were not playing any risky shots," stand-in skipper Swapnil

GUGALE-BAWNE

Skipper Swapnil Gagale and Ankit Bawne of Maharashtra celebrate their record partnership of 594 runs against Delhi on Friday.   -  PTI

“Five hundred,” said Swapnil Gugale, the Maharashtra stand-in captain, checking his smart phone while stepping down from the Wankhede Stadium staircase after making Delhi field virtually for two days in a Ranji Trophy Group A tie at the Wankhede Stadium. He wasn’t referring to the number of balls during his marathon innings of unbeaten 351 or the number of runs that he and Ankeet Bawne stitched together during a record-breaking 594-run partnership for the third wicket; he was responding to a query about the number of unread congratulatory messages.

Gugale and Bawne’s gargantuan partnership – the second-highest partnership ever in the history of first-class cricket – terminated voluntarily when Maharashtra declared the first innings at 635 for two. The celebration came as a surprise since they were on the verge of going past the highest partnership – 624 set by Sri Lanka legends Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in a Test match against South Africa at Colombo in 2006.

“We weren’t aware of the record. In fact, we got to know about it only after we went into the dressing room,” said Gugale, leading Maharashtra for the first time.

“Also, We have to get points from this game, it’s not about my 400 or other records. We had a plan that we have to give them a few overs to play and we had a certain amount of time after which we had to declare. Our target was achieved. We had a plan in the morning itself that we have to score 620 odd runs and then give them no matter what the time is.”

No doubt the pitch was at its flattest, but the duo’s effort was special since Maharashtra was missing captain Kedar Jadhav after being selected for India and had lost the season-opener to Jharkhand last week.

As it happens quite often during a partnership as long as the one the duo scripted, the batsmen – just like the fielding team – tend to lose concentration and commit a mistake. How did they manage to dig in during a partnership that lasted almost 11 hours?

“Even the Delhi players were asking us: ‘ bore nahi ho rahe ho kya? Hum log bowling karke bore ho gaye, tum log batting karke bore kaise nahi ho rahe ho? (aren’t you getting bored? We are bored of bowling, how come you don’t get bored while batting?)’ and I said, ‘Batting mein koi bore hota hai kya’ (Does anyone ever get bored while batting?)"

“It’s a beautiful wicket to bat. We were thoroughly enjoying batting here. We were feeling as if we could bat on for another two days. We were not playing any risky shots.”

While Gugale kept his celebrations in check all through the epic partnership, Bawne lost his patience and let himself loose the moment he reached 250 towards the end of the day’s play. He took his helmet and gloves off; then shadow-practised boxing and ended it with a fist pump towards the dressing room.

“I celebrate in a similar manner while playing PS (PlayStation). I had told a team-mate during the (tea) break if I reach 250, I’ll repeat the celebration,” he said.