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As India became the first team to play in 1000 ODIs, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan share their thoughts on ODIs.

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India is all set to become the first country to play 1000 ODIs. They will reach this important milestone when the Rohit Sharma-led side take on the West Indies at the Narendra Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday. Australia made 958 and Pakistan 936. India won 518, lost 431, drew 9 and played 41 matches without a result. It has been played in 66 venues around the world (28 in India) and a record 72 matches in Sharjah.

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India’s most notable ODI achievements were winning the World Cup in 1983 and 2011 and the Champion of Champions Trophy in Australia in 1985.

Spoke to the legendary trio of Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan as they shared their views on ODI cricket.

It is clear that ODI cricket is far from the popularity of the Packer day-night series. Despite the Twenty20 revolution, the ICC World Cup has developed a very strong affiliation. The bilateral series keeps it going (ODI cricket) but there is more interest in the World Cup. I think it’s good. Cricket is the only possible sport where you have three different formats and each has its own challenges, but having said that it has survived this long and I am sure it will continue, regardless of the progress of Twenty20.

I am quitting the ICC (as Chairman of the Cricket Committee). But during the nine years I was at the ICC, the main conversation revolved around playing meaningful cricket or giving meaning and significance to every international match. I think that was a criticism of the bookings and I’m really glad that now every match counts. If it is a five-match ODI series or a three-match series and if the team has won the first three or two matches, the subsequent matches also count. It’s really nice for Test and ODI cricket that every game now matters despite the results.

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For me, it took a bit of adjusting from Test cricket to ODI cricket. The mindset of the spinner has to change. For me, thinking about the wicket was always there, whether I was playing Test or white ball. My approach or basic approach to the game has never changed, but I think in terms of understanding length and different lines and practicing with the cue ball, there were important aspects. Also training for ODI cricket. Adjustments had to be made in these aspects. I played in different phases of the game and under different rules and restrictions on the field. I even played in death matches. So it was a change that one had to make, technical changes or whatever.

It was the first time we played under the lights in Kolkata. We were all part of the meeting (to decide who would bat last against the West Indies). It was Diwali time and the atmosphere created by the crowd was amazing. There were firecrackers and smog could be seen filling the ground. It was good to play in that series, qualify and win that tournament. Sachin (Tendulkar) bowled a brilliant last over. We were all part of it, Kapil (Dev) paaji was there; then we had a point that said let’s go with Sachin (rebuild the last one). I’ve also said it before; thank god he (Sachin) focused more than the batsman. If he had focused more on leg spin I would have been…. Sachin could miss anything.

I would say when I was playing cricket originally, ODIs revived fast bowling in India because you had to have three fast bowlers to play. Test cricket has not given much chance to India’s third seamer; forget about the third, sometimes also about the second. But I think it (ODI) has kept me in the game and I owe a lot to the ODI format

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I think apart from Test cricket, ODI cricket – if you see its gradual evolution – has been the mainstay all these years. The World Cup saw some fantastic matches. And then I waited for six hours, and if the game takes off, I think that’s exactly what people want. I think they need it. It provides great entertainment so they want it to stay. I think I will always hold the EDI World Cup in higher regard than others. The team in the ODI format has every chance to make a comeback. It’s not just about one or two shots, you have a chance to build and take your game to the next level. Take the game the way you want.

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When the conditions are somewhat useful, two new balls on either side give players a chance to impress. I still feel that the EDI format is more balanced.

There is no doubt that the 1983 World Cup was probably an eye-opener for Indian cricket. I think it probably opened up the retail market in India as well. They (the sponsors) really understood the impact they could have if they advertised all day. That’s where I think the 2011 World Cup reinforced that India is the cricketing hub of the world. It reiterated that it’s not just about generating money, it’s also about winning games. It’s more important.

I think we all know what Rahul (Dravid) did. It is now in the safe hands of VVS Laxman. That’s what we’re all watching closely. So it is good to see that the Indian Under-19 team is doing really well.

I played at a time when ODI cricket was changing rapidly. I would have played about 25 ODIs before I played my first Test. I got the recording in Zimbabwe and then I played a test. Well, thanks to one-day cricket, the game has started to pick up speed; the rules were constantly changing. The number of 1000 ODIs alone only reflects the popularity of the game in India.

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India can get huge crowds. It didn’t matter which team was the opposition. It helped me make my debut for India in ODI cricket. I grew up in a time when you wanted to play Test cricket and I played a lot of ODI cricket here, things moved fast. But ODI cricket calmed my nerves initially. It grew exponentially when I started playing for India. Playing a lot of ODIs meant I got more international cricket. Even though Tests are the pinnacle of the sport, you had to compete in ODIs, which became increasingly difficult as they kept evolving.

Different shots were played and Adam Gilchrist came out and smashed us in the ODI in Kochi. And with guys like Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kauwitharana and Gilchrist, you were looking at scores of 270 and 280, not 230 or 240. Then every batsman started hitting the ball harder. Teams that were hitting one or two guys started having five or six. The bowlers had to improve as the batsmen bowled and bowled. The batsmen often danced on the track and consistently swept backwards. So a bigger challenge awaited the Kotlebo people. The playgrounds became flatter, smaller areas and fast terrains were added. I played with Mahendra Singh Dhoni when he started he could hit the ball. He was a power player. There was power and consistency from Dhoni, Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh), (Matthew) Hayden, Gilchrist. You are talking about big players.

If you didn’t have to do it in five days, you had to do it in less time when you might not be able to settle into a game you had to deliver immediately. In my day, six runs in the last over could be a close game; now the game would be gone. And now with Twenty20 you can speed anything up. If you don’t get it (bowling) right, you know what’s coming.

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I think the 2003 Indian team was well balanced. It covered most of the bases. We had Sachin, Viru (Virender Sehwag), (Sourav) Ganguly, Yuvraj, a group of good seamers, two big spinners in Kumble and Harbhajan (Singh). Rahul’s (Dravid’s) wicket gave us another option. If we missed anyone, it could have been someone like MS Dhoni.

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Once upon a time, cricket was the first white ball format, right? This was a shorter version of the game and evolved over the years. The most important aspect is that we get the result in one day. The beginning of the development of white-ball cricket came with the ODI format. It evolved from a red orb to a white orb. But I have hardly played ODI cricket with the red ball. Now

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