A Sachin Tendulkar Classic : 2003 World Cup


Sachin Tendulkar smashed a fearless 98 ruining the morale of Pakistani bowlers on this day. 16 years ago he sent back Pakistan from the World Cup after an intense battle with the likes of Wasim, Waqar, and Shoaib.

It was the 36th match of the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup at Centurion. The sub-continental neighbors India and Pakistan were scheduled to play their last group league match on this day among lots of tension and anticipation.

Sachin Tendulkar (Image- Getty Images)

The Clash Of Arch Rivals

The last India-Pakistan match was played almost three years back and being a World Cup match, the fans were looking forward to this match immensely. Also, India won all three previous encounters in the World Cup and was determined to carry on the trend.

Led by Sourav Ganguly and Waqar Younis both the teams had legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Virendra Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar, Shoaib Akhtar, and others. It was a legendary clash and both the fans and media hyped the match to the highest degree.

On the morning of March 1, 2003, Waqar won the toss and decided to bat to set a target for India’s strong batting line up. Most likely he had immense faith in his world famous bowling attack to defend any score.

Pakistan Set A Decent Target

Anwar and young Taufeeq Umar started cautiously before raising the tempo. Umar was gone in the 11th over to Zaheer. Abdul Razzaq, sent to number three as pinch-heater, did not last long, neither did Inzamam who was run out once again and did justice to his reputation. Pakistan lost 3 wickets before reaching 100. Yousuf Yuhana (Mohammad Yousuf) built a partnership with Anwar who was playing beautifully. He already passed his half-century and added 73 runs with Yousuf when the experienced Srinath came and took care of Yousuf. Anwar got a well-deserved 100 in the 40th over but any plan of him accelerating was damaged when Nehra came back to peg back his off-stump.

Afridi could not bat longer on his 23rd birthday and loft a very slow one from Dinesh Mongia to be caught by Anil Kumble. Younis khan along with wicketkeeper Rashid Latif tried to add some quick runs but Indian bowlers also maintained their control and managed to restrict them to 273.

The Chase Began

The first two overs of India’s chase was one of the most talked about match situations during an India-Pakistan clash. The fans from both the nations, especially the Indians still can visualize those 12 balls even today. 

Wasim Akram started the proceeding and was in control from the first ball. However, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were not in a mood to restrict. The third ball of the over was driven through cover for four by Tendulkar whereas Sehwag fetched another boundary in the last ball. From the other end, it was Shoaib Akhtar on his pomp. He was on top of his form and Waqar trusted him with the new ball and held himself back as first change.

Shoaib looked tensed. He started with a wide. His first three legal deliveries went for four runs and Tendulkar was back on Strike.

The Unstoppable Sachin Tendulkar

The fourth delivery of the over was a wide raising delivery outside the off stump, Tendulkar went for it. It was sweetly timed and the ball flew over the third man boundary for a massive six. It was an iconic shot that changed the mood of two nations in two completely different directions.

Sachin Tendulkar (Image- Getty Images)

But Sachin Tendulkar was not going to contain easily. Shoaib changed his line but his next delivery on the middle stump was flicked by Tendulkar for Boundary through the square leg fence. The last ball of the over, a very similar line, was driven back between the bowler and mid on for another boundary and suddenly India were 27 for no loss in two overs and the target was already below 250.

India continued to chase with enough dominance and reached 50 in the fifth over. But Waqar then gave two back to back blows as he got Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly on back to back deliveries. But Tendulkar got good support from Mohammad Kaif who was surprisingly sent at number four before Rahul Dravid.

Kaif held on one end with a sedate 35 when Tendulkar kept playing his shots. All the Pakistani bowlers faced the same fate that day and looked like he was in an unstoppable mood. But if not by the bowlers, he was stopped by his hamstring. He started having cramps. Although after a few moments of treatment he resumed and hit Razzaq for four in no time.

Kaif finally went with the score at 155 for three. Dravid joined Tendulkar who by that time was severely impacted by the cramps and still kept running by himself as he did not prefer taking a runner. But with the team’s total score of 177 and his personal score of 98, Tendulkar could not take it anymore and Sehwag appeared as his runner. This was the first instance of Sachin Tendulkar taking a runner in international cricket.

But Shoaib was also back as a last-ditch effort from Waqar and delivered a vicious well-directed bouncer. A fit Tendulkar might have evaded. But this time the ball took the shoulder of the bat and a diving catch was taken by Younis Khan in the point to get the little master out. His 98 of 75 balls played against Pakistan on this day is one of the top performances in a World Cup match.

India Won 

In 1999, India could not win the Chennai test match when Sachin was dismissed post getting troubled by a bad back. This time close to 100 runs more were required. Tension and nervousness were creeping into Indian fans’ minds. But the young confident Yuvraj Singh arrived to rescue.

He started positively and soon with his stroke play the momentum was back to India. Even Dravid was also looking tired after keeping and batting on a hot day. Yuvraj anchored the chase and reached his 50 with only a few runs to get. In the 46th Over, Dravid (44 not out) pulled one from Waqar to the boundary for the winning runs and rejoiced the glory along with Yuvraj and other team members.

The entire nation was celebrating. After not a strong start in the campaign, India turned out to be one of the strongest teams to qualify for the next round. Pakistan had to return home among lots of controversies and retirements.  

Also Read: On This Day – 28th Feb

Mitchell Starc produced a World Cup Thriller against Tasman Neighbours

Mitchell Starc was the reason of a thriller between Australia and New Zealand on this day. Thanks to him that a comfortable chase became almost impossible for the kiwis. 

On February 28, 2015, Australia and New Zealand played one of the most thrilling World Cup ties at Eden Park, Auckland. Both the teams had a good start to the tournament and the tournament was moving towards the business end as the league positions and qualifying scenarios were taking shapes. New Zealand won all three of their matches since then whereas Australia after winning their first match against the old enemies had to content with shared points as their match against Bangladesh was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

The Beginning

Michael Clarke won the toss and decided to bat. They reached 24 in the first two overs. Third over of the match from Tim Southee saw the first ball going for a six and second ball claiming the wicket of Aaron Finch. Shane Watson came and built at 50 runs partnership with David Warner. Australia reached 80 for one when Daniel Vettori and Southee stuck on back-to-back deliveries. 80 for one suddenly became 80 for three. New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum brought back Trent Boult and then a procession towards the pavilion started for the mighty Australians. Boult’s swing was too much for the Australian middle order and they had no answer. They lost 8 wickets for 26 runs in this phase and quickly was at 106 for nice. Supported by the vociferous home crowd Boult’s second spell read 5-3-3-5. Brad Haddin showed some fight for Australia and added valuable 45 runs in the last wicket where his contribution was 37. His thick edge went to short third man’s hand and Australian innings was closed at 151.

Image Source – PTI

The Chase

New Zealand came to bat after a 10-minute break as Australian innings was over in the 33rd over. Their response was based on the extreme quick start provided by the skipper McCullum. The chase started with a run rate of 10 runs in the first few overs. McCullum blasted his way to a 21-ball 50. Mitchell Johnson was severely punished as his first 4 overs bleed 52 runs. By the end of seventh over, Kiwis were 72 for one. Almost most half of the required runs were completed and yet it was not a time for the break. Pat Cummins gave the key breakthrough to his team when he got McCullum caught by Mitchell Starc. Starc himself came back to bowl the next over and got Ross Taylor with his first ball. The teams went to break with New Zealand on 79 for three.

It was 79 for four after one ball once the match was resumed. Starc got Grant Elliot right after the break. New Zealand replicated a similar collapse and the match was again on balance. The crowd was on their toes and all the hopes were on the calm stature of Kane Williamson. Williamson got an ally in Corey Anderson and added 52 runs in the fifth wicket. Anderson played a peculiar inning. His first five runs came in 20 balls. At this point, Mitchell Johnson returned for a spell and his first three deliveries were hit for Four, Four and Six by Anderson to take himself to 19 off 23. Then again once he reached 26 of 29 he could not score in the next 12 balls he faced and on the 13th ball he was out trying to slog Glenn Maxwell.

Another 21 runs were required to score with five wickets in hand and plenty of overs to spare, a comfortable scenario for most of the matches.

Twist In The Tale From Mitchell Starc

The comfort was soon gone as Mitchell Starc’s nasty bouncer got rid of Luke Ronchi. Vettori hit one straight to mid on in the next over. With just six runs to go, Starc brought another twist. He bowled Milne and Southee on back to back deliveries and now it was anyone’s game. The hero of first innings Boult came to bat and his first job was to survive two deliveries of Starc who already had six wickets in his name and almost breathing fire. Boult managed to survive with thunderous cheer and it was all depending on Williamson. Will he try to do it himself or will he trust his partner and rotate strike to get these six runs was a million dollar question.

Cummins was the bowler and Kane did not wait. The first delivery of the 24th over was hit for a straight six and with that New Zealand won one of the most thrilling encounters between these two countries. Kane remained not out for 45. Boult was given the man of the match award for his decisive spell in the first innings but McCullum’s innings was also no less important. Australia’s wait for revenge was less than a month when they got the big prize of the World Cup Trophy by beating New Zealand in the final at MCG.

Also Read: On This Day – 27th Feb

The Ashes And World War – Destiny Brought Three Cricketers Together

Bodyline Series And World War - Destiny Brought Three Cricketers Together

Ashes 1937 and World War II were unified by the destiny of three cricketers, Ross Gregory, Ken Farnes & Hedley Verity. 

One of the greatest Ashes series was played during 1936-37 in Australia. This was England’s first tour to Australia after the infamous Bodyline series. Although Bradman was there, two other main protagonists Douglas Jardine and Harold Larwood already retired by then. England’s captain was Gubby Allen. Those days such tours used to go on for months with lots of rest and other matches against state teams. The first match of the series started on December 4, 1936, whereas the fifth and final test started on February 26, 1937.

Ashes 1936/37- A Recap

Ken Farnes Image Source – The Cricketer

England took an early lead in the series. They won both the first and second tests played at Brisbane and Sydney respectively. Without Larwood, Allen and Bill Voce troubled the Australian batsmen and Wally Hammond’s innings of 231 was instrumental in England’s innings victory in Sydney.

Australia tried to make a comeback after being 0-2 down. The third test in Melbourne was played in a dangerous ‘Sticky’ wicket which saw all types of unique strategies. Australia first declared at 200 for 9 then England declared at 76 for 9 so that they could utilize the sticky wicket. Bradman sent a reverse batting order; he came at 7, scored 270 and won the match easily for Australia. Bradman scored another double in the next test to level the series.

The Final Show In Melbourne

And then the final test of the Ashes began in Melbourne. Bradman won the toss for Australia and decided to bat. He scored another century and added 249 runs in the third wicket with Stan McCabe who himself scored 112.

Ross GregoryImage Source – ESPN

On February 27, day 2 Bradman went early but Jack Badcock and Ross Gregory built another good partnership. Badcock got his hundred. Gregory, playing just his second test, was approaching his maiden test hundred. But England bowler Ken Farnes stopped him when he was on 80 and the catch was taken by Hedley Verity, a dismissal which would have a dark significance in years to come. 

But let us focus on the match. Australia finally completed their innings and scored 604. Farnes took 6 wickets. England did not do well in front of a William O’Reilly master class. O’Reilly picked up 8 for 109 in the match and England after following on lost the test match by innings and 200 runs. This was a wonderful turn around for Australia and still, the only instance of a team winning a series after 0-2 behind. England’s next Ashes series win came after more than 17 years.

Ross Gregory, Ken Farnes & Hedley Verity- Destined To Be Together Once Again

Hedley Verity Image Source – yorkshireccc.com

It was Ross Gregory’s last test match. World War II broke out in the next few years and like many others, even some of the active cricketers from England and Australia had to register themselves for the war. The war took many lives that included some of the cricketers. Three of them were Pilot Officers.

Ken Farnes, died in an accident while flying over Chipping-Warden, Oxfordshire on October 20, 1941, Sergeant-Observer Ross Gregory was killed on active service in India on June 10, 1942, and Captain Hedley Verity on July 31, 1943, when he succumbed to wounds from a battle in Sicily. 

This way, all the three parties involved in Ross Gregory’s final dismissal were the martyrs of World War II. And this happened on this day, 82 years back.

Also Read: On This Day – 26th Feb

Youngest First Class Debut – Alimuddin

Alimuddin - The Youngest First Class Debut

The year was 1943. Ranji Trophy was slowly becoming the premier domestic tournament in India and started to make people excited. The first semi-final between Baroda and Rajputana had quite a few things to be excited about.

At that point, Baroda was one of the strongest teams in Indian domestic cricket. The team included the great Vijay Hazare and his brother Vivek Hazare. It also included experienced players like Hemu Adhikari, CS Nayudu, and Raosaheb Nimbalkar. Their opponents were no match but they included Alimuddin in their squad for the semi-final. Alimuddin, an opening batsman for Rajputana and the occasional leg-break bowler was going to make his first-class debut and it was an exciting moment. At the time of the match Alimuddin, who was born in Ajmer, was just 12 years and 73 days old and hence became the youngest debutant in first-class cricket. 

On February 26, 1943 the match began. Alimuddin, slotted to bat at first-down, was probably nervous to play in such a big stage for the first time. However his captain Narsingrao Keshri returned from the toss and announced that they would be batting, resulting in Alimuddin to get ready with all his batting equipment and wait as the openers went out to bat. 

He did not have to wait long as Vijay Hazare, opening the bowling, got the nick from opener Asad Wahab for just one. Alimuddin strolled out to play his first innings and became the youngest He and the other opener Raghubir Singh batted cautiously and added 20 runs. But the things changed with the introduction of CS Nayudu. CS Nayudu, the brother of legendary CK Nayudu, was a domestic stalwart. He was a leg break bowler and a handy batsman. He broke the partnership once he bowled Raghubir and then got Alimuddin caught by Mutyalswami Naidu for 13. The youngster did not do too bad and eventually, his 13 turned up to be the highest for Rajputana. Nayudu and Hazare, on his second spell, ran through the Rajputana lower-middle order and got them out for just 54 runs. 

Rajputana started strongly and took 3 early wickets. Hazare was joined by Mutyalswami Naidu and they tried to stabilize things. Alimuddin made another contribution. Given the ball by his captain, Alimuddin managed to get the great Hazare out and Baroda were 67 for 4. But that was when things again changed for Baroda. Nayudu joined Naidu and started to build a partnership. They added 239 runs in less than three hours and both players reached their personal best. Nayudu scored 128 and was first to go. Naidu ended with 199. There were also the contribution from Wyankatrao Ghorpade with 97 and MS Indulkar with 42 and Baroda piled up 543 and secured a lead of 489 runs. 

Rajputana started better in the second innings. Openers added 54 in the first wicket as Raghubir scored 28 and Wahab 24. Alimuddin also fought hard to get a score of 27. But all three of them were captured by Nayudu who bowled beautifully to get seven wickets after his five wickets in the first innings. Raghubir, Alimuddin, and Wahad were the top three scorers of the innings and none of the Rajputana batsmen passed 12 as they meekly surrendered to be all out for 133 runs in the second essay. It was a loss by the huge margin of innings and 356 runs. 

It may not be a memorable start for Alimuddin personally but he put his name in the record books. Post partition Alimuddin moved to Karachi and continued playing cricket. He made his debut for Pakistan in 1954 and played 25 tests with 1091 runs and 2 centuries.

Also Read: On This Day – 25th Feb

When England Physio Saved A Kiwi Life

When England Physio Saved A Kiwi Life

A shell shocked and broken England side was touring to New Zealand in February 1975. They were completely devastated after losing the Ashes 4-1 to the mighty Australians. After facing the fearsome pace attack of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson the English had no idea what they would have to face in the Kiwi land.

It was a short two-test. First test match began on February 20 at Auckland. Batting first England made the best of the opportunity after a nightmare at the Ashes. Keith Fletcher led the way with 216 along with Mike Denness who scored 181. Their partnership of 266 helped England to score a mammoth 593/6, declared. New Zealand after being all out on 326 in their first innings followed on. It was almost a repeat telecast of the first innings for the Kiwis as they kept losing wickets in regular intervals.

New Zealand were at 140 for 9 late on the fourth afternoon. Geoff Howarth was still on the crease when a certain 24-year old fast bowler Ewen Chatfield joined in. It was Chatfield’s debut match. However, the pair continued for the last half hour before bad light brought an end to the fourth day. This caused frustration for almost all except the Kiwis. With only one wicket left to fall and New Zealand still requiring 105 runs to make England bat again the game ended on day four. There was a rest day in between the fourth and fifth day which meant all had to wait for another two days. As the forecast for the fifth day was not much better, there was still a glimmer of hope left for the home side. 

They play resumed on day five with the not out batsmen Howarth and Chatfield on the crease. Peter Lever, Lancashire’s fast bowler, and medium-pace spinner Derek Underwood opened the bowling. But the not out duo were not ready to surrender so easily. They continued for another 35 minutes. They managed to take the score to 181 for 9.

Finally the debutant, Chatfield gave one small chance. A delivery almost went for a catch to one of the short-leg fielders. Lever finally found the way to break the pair. He admitted later, “I thought this was the way to get him … I brought in two close fieldsmen and aimed another one at the glove”. Lever went for a short delivery. Chatfield turned his head away but still tried to fend the ball. It deflected off his gloves and hit his head. “I lost sight of it and I knew it had hit me on the head,” Chatfield recalled, “For a few seconds I staggered and then fell over.”

There was no doctor present on the ground. Bernard Thomas, the England Physiotherapist was witnessing everything from the No. 1 stand but didn’t react immediately. But as soon as he realized the importance of the situation he was in action accompanied by a local ambulanceman. 

Thomas realized that Chatfield had swallowed his tongue. So he asked for resuscitation equipment first but unfortunately, it wasn’t there. According to him, “It was the worst case I have seen and I never want to see another,” he said later. “His heart had stopped beating and technically that’s the sign of dying.”

An unconscious but stabilized Chatfield was taken from the field on a stretcher and rushed to hospital in an ambulance, accompanied by the English physiotherapist, Thomas. On their way, he came in sense, opened his eyes and asked Thomas what was happening. “Don’t worry,” Thomas assured him. It took half an hour to regain Chatfield’s full consciousness. A hairline fracture on his skull was detected.

Lever didn’t know how to deal with the situation. He was all shivering and sobbing. He was confirmed that he had killed the batsman. “I felt sick and ashamed at what I had done and all I could think when I got back to the pavilion was that I wanted to retire.” He left the field behind the stretcher weeping. He visited the hospital twice and finally was a bit relieved when Chatffield himself convinced him that accident was his own fault.

It was a bizarre scenario for English bowlers, especially after being smashed by the Aussies at the Ashes. Henry Blofeld in the Guardian wrote: “It was the final and appalling irony that one of the England bowlers, who had ducked and weaved himself through Australia, should himself have come very close to killing Chatfield.”

The incident gave birth to a worldwide debate on the legitimacy of bouncers, especially those aimed at tailenders. But obviously, nothing changed. In fact, West Indies were subjected to almost the same treatment by Australia. The fast bowling attack and the bouncers have been part of glorious cricket history since the beginning. The battle of 22yards has been blessed by the deadly fast bowlers for years. Introduction of the helmet has been a savior in this case.

Also Read: On This Day – 24th Feb

Sachin Tendulkar hits first men ODI double hundred

Sachin Tendulkar hits first men ODI double hundred

During the 1997 Women’s World Cup Belinda Clarke from Australia became the first International limited over double centurion against Denmark. A feat which was not achieved yet in Men’s game. Saeed Anwar’s record 194 was made a few months earlier which remained the highest individual score in the men’s game for the next few years. 

As we moved past the new millennium one constant debate among cricket fans was to guess who would be One Day cricket’s first male double centurion, a scenario which looked likely more and more every passing day. Especially with the invent of T20 and presence of some of astonishing hitting talent in the game like Virender Sehwag, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers the first ODI double century was round the corner. In 2009, bespectacled Charles Coventry touched Anwar’s record of 194 against Bangladesh but being an innings played between the minnows, the innings did not get focus and appreciation it deserved.

Image Source – NDTV Sports

In 2010, South Africa came to India to play a short series of two tests and three ODIs. After a closely fought test series and tight first One Day which India won by just 1 run, the teams came to Gwalior for the second One Day international. 

India Won the toss and elected to bat in better. Although Sehwag went early Sachin Tendulkar kept playing his shots and looked ominous. Tendulkar’s highest ODI score 186 was far away but his strokeplay that day gave an indication that something special might be in store. He along with Dinesh Karthik built a 196-run partnership and Tendulkar reached his 100 in just 90 balls. Once Karthik was departed Yousuf Pathan was sent up the order to utilize the platform built and he duly delivered with a 23-ball 36. By the time Pathan was dismissed Tendulkar already reached 168 in 41st over and 200 looks real possibility! With MS Dhoni for the company, Tendulkar broke Anwar’s record of 194 in the 45th over with thunderous applause from the spectators present in the ground. It is when MS Dhoni took over and Tendulkar could add only 4 more runs in next 3 overs. The 50th over started with India on 385, Sachin Tendulkar on 199 at the non-striker end and a nation on his feet, restless for a single from the master. 

Langeveldt’s first delivery went for another six by Dhoni, must of be one of his least appreciated six by Indian fans as they were focussing on something else. In the next ball, Dhoni Swings the ball towards mid-wicket boundary but Amla dived to save the four and batsmen agree to not to go for the double despite the fumble, again came the huge cheer from the fans in the ground and also in front of the television. But the biggest cheer of the day was saved for the next delivery when Tendulkar steered the ball past point to become the first double centurion in One Day cricket in the ODI number 2,962. Everyone in the ground was up on their feet including his team members. Sachin Tendulkar has many records in his name, especially in the One Day Cricket and one of the key reasons for the enhanced popularity of this format during the 90’s. Hence very fittingly once he became the first double centurion of the game it gave a feeling of justice and fulfilments.

MS Dhoni finished in style to take India past 400 and South Africa could not replicate their Wonderers’ magic and lost by 153 runs.

Looked like Sachin Tendulkar has started a trend and in the next few years quite a few big names added themselves in the ‘ODI 200 Club’.

Image Source – The Common Man Speaks

Sehwag broke Tendulkar’s record in December 2011, when he scored 219. The next two double hundreds came from Rohit Sharma who managed to change his career graph once he started opening in ODIs and proved his capacity to play long innings. During his second double hundred, he could reach 264 against Sri Lanka at Kolkata which remained the highest. In this way, the first four ODI double hundreds were all scored by Indians. 

Interestingly on this same day, four years later, Chris Gayle became the first Non-Indian player to score an ODI double. This was also the first double century in the men’s World Cup game. But Gayle’s record of highest score in the World Cup was broken by Martin Guptil within a month when he scored 237 against the Windies in the Quarterfinal. 

In the last four years, there are three instances of ODI double hundred. One more came from Rohit Sharma and the first from Pakistan was scored when Fakhar Zaman got one against Zimbabwe. The other double centurion during this period was Amelia Kerr, the young all-rounder from White Ferns who also took 5 wickets in the same match in one of the game’s greatest all-round performance.

Also Read: On This Day – 23 Feb

Michael Slater on Dual Duty

Michael Slater’s Dual Substitute Work

The substitutes are part of most of the sports. In cricket also the substitutes are a constant presence. Either they are used to give rest to the fast bowlers or used in case of injuries. One of the most memorable substitutes was Garry Pratt who famously ran out Ricky Ponting during 2005 Ashes which played a key role in deciding the result of the series. Pratt became a cult figure and even got a place in the open top bus parade post-England’s Ashes win after 18 years.

Even there were some unusual substitutes from opposing players or team management personals. A young Sachin Tendulkar had substituted for Pakistan team during their 1987 tour in one of the festival matches and even almost caught a Kapil Dev skier. An incident remembered fondly by Tendulkar in his book ‘Playing in My Way’.

On this day, 23rd February 1996, during the Cricket World Cup Michael Slater had a bizarre experience of substituting for two teams in one day. Slater who celebrated his 26th birthday just a couple of days earlier was not picked for Australia’s match against Kenya in Visakhapatnam. This was Australia’s first match of the tournament as they refused to play their opening match because the match was scheduled in Sri Lanka.

Once Michael Slater was excluded from the first eleven along with Damien Fleming and Shane Lee, he probably hoped for a leisurely day with few appearances during drink breaks. But fate had planned something different for him. The commentary team who were assigned the responsibility of the match reached Visakhapatnam in parts and in desperate need of some more people to be in the commentary box. They reached out to the Australian team and identified Slater as a potential candidate. Slater was always a good speaker as displayed by his earlier interviews and hence picked for the role after the approval from his team management.

He started with the pitch report as most of the senior commentators like Tony Greig was still on their way. Slater even managed part of commentary during the match which saw Australia piling up a 300 plus total against the Kenyan team. The Waugh brothers came together to add 207 runs with Mark scoring 130 and Steve contributing 82. Slater did no harm to his reputation and was free from his duty by the half of the match as the rest of the commentators reached the venue. 

But after five overs in Kenya’s innings Michael Slater again got an emergency call, this time from his own team management. Craig McDermott was injured and could not carry on. Slater was out in the field and ended with fielding 45 overs of Kenyan innings. A target of 305 was any way out of Kenya’s reach. They still show some fight and reached 207 for 7 in their 50 overs.

Slater never played a match in cricket World Cup and this remained his most notable playing memory. On the commentary side, he was much more successful. He started commentary even before his retirement from playing cricket and now a popular member of the commentary panels during matches in Australia as well as in other parts of the world.

Also Read: On This Day – 22 Feb

Sachin Tendulkar vs Ian Botham – Their only face to face

Sachin Tendulkar vs Ian Botham - Their only face to face

On 22nd February 1992, two legends from the different era have their only face to face. Sachin Tendulkar, not even 20, had already made his reputation.

Two years back Sachin Tendulkar was almost going to become the youngest centurion in tests when he fell just 12 short against New Zealand. His maiden Test century came against England at Manchester in a wonderful match-saving performance. In Australia, although India had a horror tour Tendulkar did not do any harm to his reputation with two wonderful hundred in the test series, the one in Perth was considered by many as his one of the bests. 1992 cricket world cup was the first marquee event where Tendulkar could display his talent in the big stage. 

On the other hand, Ian Botham was one of the greatest all-rounder from the 80’s and a mad genius. By late 80’s his career became a start-stop one impacted by injury and multiple controversies. He was not part of the England team when India toured in 1990 and only made a comeback a few months before the world cup. Botham’s nickname was ‘Beefy’ and at this stage of his career, he pretty much showed everyone the reason for his nickname. However English team management still find a use for him as they asked him to open in the limited over matches to take the benefit of the fielding restriction. 

Sachin Tendulkar vs Ian Botham - Their only face to face
Image Source – Youtube

The 1992 World cup started on 22nd February. In the first match, the two hosts Australia and New Zealand faced each other. In the second match of the day at Perth, it was a showdown between England and India. 

England came to the world cup after a successful tour of New Zealand. The team was led by Graham Gooch and had experienced players like Robin Smith, Alec Stewart, Chris Lewis, Phil DeFreitas and the young sensation Graeme Hick and was the favorites. Indians were already tired from a long tour and lacked balance. Their captain was in horrible form, batting order included two veterans in the top and three barely 20-somethings in middle. Interestingly in this match, the middle order trio of Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, and Pravin Amre all came from Mumbai and from Ramakant Achrekar coaching camp. Their bowling was dependent on the old horse like Kapil and Prabhakar with new pacers like Javagal Srinath and Subroto Banerjee just coming up. 

England batted first and at the beginning, it was the battle of two old warhorses – Botham vs Kapil. After beaten a couple of times Botham tried to break the shackles by a lofted off drive. But soon nicked one to Indian wicketkeeper More off Kapil and Kapil was the winner of that round. India got the early breakthrough but could not capitalize. Already Gooch was dropped in the first over and after the fall of Botham, he built a partnership of 110 with Robin Smith. Smith was the main fulcrum of the England innings and scored a brilliant 91 which was the main reason for England reaching 236 in 50 overs as Indian bowlers fought more than expected of them. 

Indian openers started well but were restricted by England bowlers from scoring opportunity. Shastri and Srikkanth added 63 but once Srikkanth was gone, the new batsman Azharuddin got a vicious delivery from Darmot Reeve and could not do anything except nicking it. This brought Tendulkar in the middle and changed the tone of the match. Young Tendulkar once again proved his excellence. Brilliant pulls and drives were in display and English players seemed to be helpless in from the might from the little man. He easily moved to 30’s and India comfortably crossed 100. This is when Botham was introduced. He was not anymore the world beater he once was but he still fought hard with the last ounce of his cricketing skill, tenacity, and perseverance. Tendulkar showed him the respect and played cautiously and slowly getting used to his balls mostly cutting towards him. But suddenly Botham let one go towards the other direction and it took the nick of Tendulkar’s bat and was pouched by Stewart behind the wickets. The old head finally got the win and world saw that the magic of Beefy is still on. 

Also Read: Unknown records held by Sachin 

The rest of the match was a familiar tale of despair for Indian cricket fans. Like many other chases during the 90’s the team went close to the target but was little late in increasing the tempo and ended with just 9 runs short of the target. 

This was the last world cup for Botham and he again made his mark against the old enemies Australia. For Sachin Tendulkar, it was the start of a world cup journey which finished with a winners’ medal in his 6th world cup.

World Cup 2003: A controversial day for New Zealand

World Cup 2003: A controversial day for New Zealand

With every world cup there comes the stories of various kind of controversies. In all these years controversies on and off the field of various nature have come into our notice and discussed thoroughly. On this day during the World Cup 2003, New Zealand went into kind of controversies on the same day. 

During World Cup 2003 one of the most notable incidents was the Zimbabwe political crisis. Andy Flower and Henry Olonga wore black armbands and England refused to travel to Zimbabwe sighting the current state of Zimbabwe and forfeited the match. Another similar but less-noticed forfeit was done by New Zealand, who preferred to let the match against Kenya go than traveling to Nairobi.

New Zealand team had a history of a present in a country during a terror attack. There were multiple instances in Sri Lanka and once in Pakistan. Just before the scheduled match against Kenya, there was a blast in Mombasa and New Zealand team management was not comfortable to tour. They requested ICC for a relocation which ICC refused. Long team meetings took place and finally, they decided to stick to their decision of not traveling. Four points were forfeited and this helped Kenya to qualify for super six and in turn to the semi-final where their dream run was cut short by India. 

Image Source – Cricket Australia

But the match forfeit controversy was not enough for the Kiwis. Once the players came to know about this sudden break in their busy schedule, the general mood in the camp was to relax and recharge themselves. A group of players planned to visit the interestingly named ‘Tiger Tiger’ Night club in Durban. The party included Stephen Fleming, Craig McMillan, Andre Adams, Scott Styris, Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram, Kyle Mills, and the dynamic duo Chris Cairns and Brendon McCullum with others. It was an interesting party but not satisfied with that Cairns and McCullum suddenly decided to perform Haka in the middle of that night club. The bigger problem was that they wanted to perform the Haka shirtless and it was against that Night Club rule.

The club owner had to intervene as he requested the duo to put on their shirt which was futile. He talked to Fleming and finally, the shirts were on but the players were not very happy with it. They were fuming and aggressive and were asked to leave the club by the owner. Even after coming out, some of the players tried to re-enter. This was when a stranger from the crowd punched Cairns and knocked him to the ground. Then the players were guided to their hotel. Later New Zealand cricket fined $250 each from Cairns and McCullum and released a statement strongly condemning the behavior of the players. The team manager Jeff Crowe was instructed to introduce stronger control and keep the team’s focus on the upcoming matches in the World cup.

New Zealand did well to reach the Super Six but were beaten by the two finalists Australia and India and could not progress to the final four.

Also Read: On This Day – 20th Feb

World Record By Brendon McCullum

Brendon McCullum scored a century off 54 balls to enter into the record book of cricket. 

Brendon McCullum is one of the most influential New Zealand players in the last twenty years. There are many innings in all formats of the game where he has lit up the ground with his atrocious shots and risk-taking. His 158 at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in the opening match of 2008 IPL was a perfect way to start the IPL Band-wagon. Some of his shots were unbelievable and made fans wonder the power of his wrists.

On This Day

On February 20, 2016, in the first morning of his last test McCullum played similar innings and stunned the cricketing world. The conditions at Hagley Oval were conducive for fast bowling and Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson utilized the lively nature of the pitch after sending New Zealand in. New Zealand were 32 for three when McCullum came to bat. He did not waste any time to familiarize himself with the tough conditions and started playing his shots from the beginning. The second delivery he faced was hit for a four. Soon he hit two fours and two sixes in a Mitchell Marsh over to reach 26 in 10 balls. Williamson at the other end was not comfortable and went to lunch with 64-ball 7. He was gone in the first over after lunch after a partnership of 42 where his contribution was 4.

But Brendon McCullum did not get distracted by this wicket. He was joined by Corey Anderson and continued his merry way. Anderson was also keen to play his shots which helped McCullum. He brought up his fifty of 34 balls and celebrated by taking 14 runs in that Jackson Bird over. In that phase, New Zealand were scoring in a break-neck pace and added 55 in four overs with McCullum contributing 38 of it.

World Record By Brendon McCullum
World Record By Brendon McCullum (Image- Getty Images)

Brendon McCullum & World Record

At the beginning of 36th over McCullum was standing at 82 of 48 balls. The fastest test century with respect to balls faced was scored off 56 balls by the great Sir Viv Richards in 1986. Later this record was equaled by Misbah Ul Haq in 2014. McCullum needed 18 runs off 7 deliveries to make the world record his own.

After a couple of dot balls, Brendon McCullum got a top edge six in the third delivery of Hazlewood. Then there was no stopping back, McCullum hit three consecutive boundaries in the last three balls of that over and with the third boundary reached his century on 54 balls, the fastest century in the history of test cricket. Out of the 143 runs scored post him coming to bat, 100 was scored by him and it was a dominant performance like no other. He kept playing his shots and finally got dismissed for 145. The New Zealand total was 253. Anderson and Watling took New Zealand to 370 but it was not enough as Australia replied with 505. There were a couple of big centuries from Joe Burns and Steven Smith.

In his last innings, Brendon McCullum scored 25 out of total 335 but a target of 201 was easily chased down by Australia. Although McCullum could not finish in a winning note, his batting master class was a special innings and took him to the record books.

Also Read: On This Day – 19th Feb