During the 1992 World Cup game between India and Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), Kiran More, with his vociferous appeals, got under the skin of the great man. What then unravelled left tens of thousands of amused fans watching in disbelief as Miandad jumped up and down several times, in an obvious attempt to mimic Kiran More, and his excessive appealing.
India had earlier won the toss and chose to bat. A dash of adventurism from Sachin Tendulkar and some lusty blows by Kapil Dev took India to a competitive target of 216 for 7 in their allotted 50 overs. Having lost two early wickets, Aamer Sohail and Miandad looked to resurrect Pakistan’s fortunes and the score had meandered to around the 80-run mark by the 25th over of the game. It felt as if Miandad was getting restless with runs drying up and to make it more intriguing, More, with his loud appeals, was needling Miandad.
During the 25th over of the game, Tendulkar then lost his line and bowled one down the leg-side. In no time, More was shouting long and hard as he believed there was an edge. On expected lines, the umpire wasn’t interested. As Tendulkar ran into bowl his dibbly dobblers again, Miandad backed away and started to have an animated discussion with More. The little wicket-keeper stood his ground. Miandad wasn’t amused and even complained to David Shepherd, the umpire. Shepherd, known for his calmness in a crisis situation, just asked both the cricketers to get on with the game. The next delivery Miandad looked to steal a single, but some sharp fielding forced him to get back into the crease. More, though, proceeded to whip the bails in a flash despite Miandad having comfortably made his ground.
Now, a furious Miandad lost his cool and the world witnessed, stunned, as Miandad started making bizarre leaps to mimic More’s constant appealing. With both ends of the bat grasped tightly in his hand, the legendary batsmen leapt off the ground thrice as More walked past him. Even the usually eloquent Ian Chappell on commentary was lost for words. The usually calm and collected captain of the Indian unit, Mohammad Azharuddin seemed to be raging with anger because of Miandad’s rude behaviour.
The moment went down in history as one of the most comical ever. It gave a clear indication of why India-Pakistan matches are to-die-for affairs and also how much even the greatest of players go through when they are up against their fierce rivals.
Kiran More went on to have the last laugh, however, as India claimed the win and bragging rights over their neighbours.
Venkatesh Prasad, a lanky Indian medium-pace bowler, had spent two summers on the international circuit before the 1996 World Cup but had largely remained a peripheral figure. At the end of that tournament however, he’d become a household name. He didn’t set the tournament alight by any stretch of imagination yet became the epicentre of India-Pakistan World Cup discussions for years to come.
Co-hosts of the 1996 tournament Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan rode the wave of massive expectations to get past the group stage. As fate would have it, the traditional rivals were slotted to face each other in the quarter-final in Bangalore. While India had stuttered their way to the knockouts, Pakistan were coming off dominant wins against England and New Zealand. Electing to bat in a big game, India rode on Navjot Sidhu’s 93 and Ajay Jadeja’s lower-order pyrotechnics to register a solid 287/8. In reply, Pakistan’s openers, Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwar, blitzed their way to 84 in the opening 10 overs before Javagal Srinath induced a false shot from Anwar to break the stand. Sohail, however, continued to pummel the medium-pacers and raced to his half century. What followed next changed the course of the match and the careers of the individuals involved.
With Aamer Sohail feasting even on the slightest width provided outside the off-stump, Prasad decided to come around the wicket to cramp the left-hander for room. A cat and mouse battle ensued and Sohail stepped up to the challenge. He danced down the track and flat-batted a shortish delivery over the cover fielder with utter disdain. The bout was won but Sohail’s competitive edge was not quenched. As Prasad stood motionless mid-pitch, Sohail getured to the bowler, pointing in the direction of the shot, as if to say he would do it again. The intelligent argued, that having made his statement with the bat, Sohail should have refrained from unnecessary chatter. However, the intellectuals grossly underestimated the emotional setting of an India-Pakistan encounter. Despite being visibly rattled, Prasad didn’t respond. Not at least, in the immediate aftermath of Sohail’s gesturing.
The adrenaline was pumping, the tension in the crowd was palpable. Prasad ran in and pitched the next delivery slightly further up, around the off-stump. In an attempt to double-guess the bowler, Sohail looked to back away and tried to swipe the ball towards mid-wicket. To his dismay, the ball missed the bat and chose instead to connect with the off-stump. The sound of ball hitting timber was engulfed by a roar of approval from over 50,000 Indian fans at the Chinnaswamy. Amidst the hullabaloo, a voice told Sohail exactly where to go using the choicest words. It came from Prasad. The comeback was complete.
Pakistan were still stong at 113/2 but the tide had turned. A charged up Venkatesh Prasad added the wickets of Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam ul-Haq to end with figures of 3/45. Riding on Prasad’s burst, an inspired Indian team stifled the run chase and picked up a 39-run win to proceed to the semi-finals. Pakistan were left to lick their wounds and rue Sohail’s impudence. In retrospect, this truly epic moment from the World Cup may have set an unfortunate precedent to what is today referred to as the ‘send-off’ but for India-Pakistan cricket, it was merely another glorious chapter in a richly eventful book. For the 970 million Indians (in 1996) however, it was a classic case of ‘What goes around comes around’.
… then, on to South Africa
The game between the subcontinent giants was earmarked as the marquee fixture of the 2003 World Cup’s group stage long before the tournament in the rainbow nation got under way. India-Pakistan clashes generally provide images that find their way into cricketing folklore. Javed Miandad’s last-ball exploits against Chetan Sharma, in the final of the Australasia Cup in Sharjah in 1986 had been passed on to the next generation of both the nations. Seventeen years later, Sachin Tendulkar wrote a script for the generation to follow.
The moment in question came in the second over of the chase, after Pakistan, opting to bat, had notched up 273 in their fifty overs, thanks to a Saeed Anwar hundred. A cagey opening over from the legendary Wasim Akram, saw Tendulkar take strike to shield the relatively inexperienced Virender Sehwag. The master batsman gave an early indication of the mood he was in, square-cutting the left-arm pacer off his third ball. Nine runs came off the first over. Captain Waqar Younis threw the new ball to express fast-bowler Shoaib Akhtar.
Nervous energy filled the stadium as Shoaib got into his stride with three quick deliveries. Then, the fuse blew off. Akhtar steamed in and bowled a short delivery outside the off-stump. The speed gun clocked it at 150.9 kmph. Tendulkar, made a trigger-movement towards the delivery and seeing the delivery climb up, threw his hands at it. Leather and wood exchanged pleasantries for a brief moment before the former flew, over the third-man fielder and into the stands.
The next two deliveries were met with a roll of the wrists and a front-foot punch and the ball sped away to the fence. The din reached new levels, causing Ravi Shastri, on commentary, to bellow ‘anyone still having lunch may as well throw their plates and get into their seats’. A fast bowler’s ego had been hurt. Shoaib had conceded 18, India were 27/0 after 2 overs. The match followed the ebbs and flows of a typical India-Pakistan clash. Incidentally, Shoaib came back to dismiss Tendulkar, two short of his century. But Tendulkar’s opening assault on the speedster had the set the tone for a famous India win.
Eight years later, in Mohali, India
For the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali, there could not have been a bigger match, when India and Pakistan locked horns in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup. Any game between the arch-rivals results in everything else taking a back seat in both countries, and when it is a World Cup match, and that too one of such magnitude, with Prime Ministers of both countries also present at the stadium, riveting cricket was definitely expected.
Opting to bat first, India posted a competitive total of 260/9, thanks to Sachin Tendulkar’s 85 off 115 balls. India may not have even reached that total had Tendulkar not decided to use the DRS in the 11th over. India had only one review available at that stage as Virender Sehwag had earlier made an unsuccessful attempt at using the technology for his benefit. When Saeed Ajmal struck Tendulkar on the pad, it looked plumb and umpire Ian Gould had no problems in raising his finger straight away. However, what happened after that left Pakistan ruing their luck.
The ball pitched on line and it appeared as though it would crash on to the leg stump. However, Hawk-Eye suggested that the ball was missing leg and the umpire, who shook his head with disbelief, overturned his decision. The Pakistan players were shocked at the decision as was the umpire, who all thought that the ball was headed only one way – onto the stumps.
Having received a reprieve, Tendulkar went on to make a sizable contribution to help India to a good score. Pakistan then lost their way in the chase and had to bow out of the competition after their fifth loss against India in a World Cup match.
Ajmal later claimed that he had bowled an arm ball and said the system misread it. “I don’t know how the television replays showed my delivery turning towards the leg side because I had bowled an arm ball and it went straight.” Conspiracy theories also made rounds, claiming that replays showed a different delivery which was superimposed deliberately to save the batsman.
However, Hawk-Eye Innovations defended the accuracy of its tracking technology by publishing details of Tendulkar’s reprieve on its website. Stephen Carter, the managing director of Hawk-Eye, said: “The path Hawk-Eye showed was accurate and the Decision Review System was used correctly to overturn the umpire’s original decision. The Hawk-Eye track lines up perfectly with the video of the real ball from release to impact point.”
“The commentators said on air that Tendulkar had been ‘caught on the crease’. From the front-on angle it does look like Tendulkar has been hit when batting in his crease. However, Tendulkar was almost two metres out of his crease when struck,” he further stated.
Now, it’s back to where it all began.