Tuesday, April 17, 2007

21 Years Ago

Sharjah, as an international venue, may have been a novelty, but it had one huge negative as far as Indian schoolboys were concerned. All the imporant matches were played on Fridays and that meant missing all the biggies. The saving grace should have been the fact that they were on 'Dubai time' so the matches continued till about 6 PM IST and one could have watched the final overs after hurrying back from school.
The flip side was - after 18.04.86 - nobody wanted to.

The cricketing equivalent of 9/11 happened to India on the 18th April of 1986.
It was a day which started off well. I remember coming back from school and my mother telling me, "Srikkanth khub pitiyechhey." (Srikkanth has hammered them.)
21 years back, a run-a-ball was something only Kapil could do on a good day though Srikkanth was catching up. 200 was a good score in one-dayers those days and Gavaskar played for draws (yes, even in ODIs)!
The Cricinfo scorecard informs me Srikkanth scored 75 (80 balls, 8x4, 2x6) and Gavaskar 92 (134 balls, 6x4). Everybody had pitched in (even one Chetan Sharma at a run-a-ball 10) and India had put on a score of 245 in 50 overs.
When I started watching the match, Pakistan was almost out of the game with most top guys back in the pavilion. So, we settled down to see an emphatic Indian win. After all, a required run rate of 6+ was something only the Gods can get.
Millions of words have been written about that final delivery. How Kapil stationed all the 9 fielders at the ropes. How Chetan Sharma delivered a waist-high full-toss. How Miandad's victory yell was audible on TV even without stump mikes. And most importantly, how that one six turned the one-day balance (especially in Sharjah) permanently in Pakistan's favour.

I - speaking for myself - remember the jerk of the camera as it tried unsuccessfully to follow the ball into the stands and Miandad's shriek as he broke into a run towards the pavilion.
If there has been a moment of complete silence in the entire subcontinent, it was at that exact point. And then Pakistan erupted into rifle shots in the air, flares across the border and signboards over thousands of shops - "Welcome Miandad. Please come in and pick up anything you want."
India's silence was broken by Raj Singh Dungarpur's famous quote at the press conference - "India did not lose the match. Javed Miandad won it."

The effect of that six was fully present till at least 10 years later, when during the 1996 World Cup Quarter Final in Bangalore, the entire nation prayed for that one man to get out. Despite a double digit running rate and a clearly aged Miandad, it was only when he was run out and walked off a cricket pitch for the last time did the country heave a sigh of relief. Even Aamir Sohail and Saeed Anwar on a rampage did not have the same effect of discomfort as Miandad did during his patchy innings.
That was also the day when the balance tilted somewhat towards India and thanks to a depleting Pakistan, we have managed to pull back some wins in high-profile matches.

Miandad has an extremely impressive record but he has never featured in discussions for the world's greatest batsman. Nobody has compared him favouarably to a Lara or a Tendulkar or even Ponting. But his spectre was so big that - as long as he played - his country inevitably held the upper hand over a more talented (on paper) India.
Bradman is unquestionably the greatest batsman of all time and a scourge of bowlers. But none of his innings (actually, just one shot) probably gave his opponents nightmares 21 years after he played them.
Javed Miandad achieved that.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for applauding the Paki Cricket Team..It was indeed a great rival to have and made cricket all the more fun and exciting to watch..

Lavs said...

Hiya there,
I came to your blog via MadMomma. Your posts on bollywood are insightful and at the same time hilarious.I read your post abt your son's fav song-jump in the air...i was actually laughing when i heard the song on radio....keep up your good work.
PS: sorry for leaving a comment here...

puloma said...

hi...i really like the way you write...reminds me of jerry pinto and vir das (sure you know them with your vast knowledge of sidey magazines and bollywood!!)in fact, nowadays, i spend most of my time (in office) reading your blogs and laughing...once in a while, i read out the stuff to people around me...keep writing...keep entertaining