Marcus Couto did not know history would unfold before his eyes when he accompanied his younger brother Ricky – Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli’s schoolmate – to watch the Harris Shield semifinal between Shardashram and St Xavier’s High School, Fort, on February 23, 1988.“Sachin and Kambli were batting like a dream,” remembers Marcus.
He stepped out for a while as he had to attend to some work. When he returned, he saw that the duo was unstoppable. “Even the umpires were tired of signalling boundaries. Sachin and Kambli were clearing the fence with alarming regularity,” said Marcus, who considers himself lucky to have seen that glorious 664-run partnership live.
After Shardashram won the match, Marcus and statistician Shirish Konkar visited the Kanga Library at Wankhede Stadium to check if there had been such a mammoth partnership before. “But it had details of only Test and first-class cricket,” Marcus told DNA. “We did the rounds of several other libraries, including the British Council, but to no avail.”
Konkar and Marcus, who had then just set up the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Scorers of India, approached statisticians Anandjibhai Dossa and Sudhir Vaidya. Through them, they got to know that a person working at Maker Chambers, Nariman Point, may have an idea. He turned out to be Mohandas Menon, a noted statistician today. “Within minutes, he told us about the previous record,” said Marcus.
Immediately, they got in touch with Wisden Almanac, which demanded documentary proof about the 664-run partnership. “That was a problem because the scorebook was in a mess. Because of Sachin and Kambli’s tall scores, there was no space left in it. Somehow we managed to tally the scores and submitted that as proof,” said Marcus. “Wisden acknowledged it and agreed to publish Sachin and Kambli’s record in its next edition.”
Kambli and Sachin became stars after the partnership. But they are still indebted to Marcus. “Once, at a public function, Kambli even gave me a standing ovation,” said Marcus.