Kapil Dev’s Moment Of Glory : A World Record

Kapil Dev’s Moment Of Glory : A World Record

Throughout the 1980s the fast bowling responsibility for India was on one man’s shoulder. He kept bowling tirelessly with all his heart in most unfavourable conditions to provide the best results for India. This man was Kapil Dev, India’s greatest all-rounder and also India’s first World Cup winning captain. 

Like Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil also started his test career in Pakistan. The year was 1978, Kapil as a 19-year old made his debut in the 1st test of the series at Faisalabad. The test match ended in a draw but young Kapil got noticed for his pace, as in those days hardly any Indian bowler would come with good pace and bounce. He also found his first test wicket in Pakistani opener, Sadiq Mohammad. 

Image Source – / AFP PHOTO / GREG WOOD

Slowly, Kapil Dev became India’s biggest threat in both home and away. Although he was not part of 1979 World Cup, he played all of India’s test matches from 1978 to 1984 till he was dropped controversially from the Eden Test match against England for playing an irresponsible shot in the previous test. He returned in the next test match and kept playing for India. During which he broke many Indian records and became the first Indian bowler to take 300 test wickets. Then he went further to reach the 400 wicket milestone in the Perth test during the 1991-92 Australia tour. He was only the second person after New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee to obtain this feat. Hadlee already retired with 431 wickets but Kapil kept playing. Although he was not as threatening but provided good support with his experience to youngsters like Javagal Srinath who made his debut during the Australia tour. Kapil kept picking up wickets and by the time Sri Lankan team came to India to play a 3-test series, Kapil were standing at 425 wickets. 

Also Read: A tribute to Kapil Dev

It was a disastrous tour for Sri Lanka where they lost all 3 test matches, each by an innings. Indian spinners were the main destroyer and the trio Kumble-Raju-Chauhan took most of the wickets. Kapil took only one wicket in the first test at Lucknow. In a slightly favourable condition in Bangalore, Kapil and Prabhakar bowled 41 overs out of the total 58 overs in Sri Lanka’s innings and shared 7 wickets between them. Kapil ended with 3 wickets and only two away from the world record. Although it was demolishing act for the spinners in the second innings, Kapil managed to get last two Sri Lankan wickets to touch the world record of 431. It was told that when only the last wicket was pending Anil Kumble tried to bowl slightly outside to make sure the Sri Lankan batsmen were not out. An incident which would reappear again in 5 years time when on 7th Feb 1999. This time Srinath was doing the same after the fall of 9th Pakistani wicket to get Kumble his 10th wicket of the match. 

Also Read: When Kumble did the Jumbo

Kapil touched 431 by getting Sri Lankan spinner Don Anurasiri caught by the Captain Mohammad Azharuddin. The whole nation was excited and held their breath until the next test match. The third test match was scheduled in the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad, a ground which incidentally was also the witness of Sunil Gavaskar becoming the first person to reach 10,000 run landmark in test cricket.

The third test started on 8th February 1994. Azhar on his 31st birthday lost the toss and Arjuna Ranatunga decided to bat first. For Sri Lanka, experienced Roshan Mahanama and Dulip Samaraweera came out to bat. With 34 runs on the board, Sri Lanka lost their first wicket. Mahanama was leg before wicket by Kumble. This brought left-handed Hashan Tillakaratne to the crease. Just after one hour of play, at 10:34 am the moment came. Tillakaratne played a ball tentatively in the front and the ball took an inside edge and went to Sanjay Manjarekar in the short leg who did not make a mistake. With this Kapil Dev grabbed the world record. All the Indian players and fans were ecstatic. There were 432 balloons and a minute’s standing ovation in the ground, a special song was played in the national television channel and people started congratulating his wife and other family members. India wrapped up the test match easily with Raju and Chauhan sharing 17 wickets between them. 

The world record changed hand quite a few times since then. West India pace spearhead Courtney Walsh broke Kapil’s record, which was later broken by Shane Warne and finally Muralitharan. Murali is the current top of the list after retiring with exactly 800 test wickets by taking the last wicket of his last match.

Anil Kumble – The second man in the ‘Ten-wicket in an Innings’ space

Anil Kumble - The second man in the ‘Ten-wicket in an Innings’ space

There are many records in test match cricket which are broken over the ages and improved records are added in the record books. The test or ODI record for the highest score for example. And then there are certain records which are very difficult to touch and cannot be broken. For example, Jim Laker’s record of taking 10 wickets in an innings which he achieved against the touring Australians at Old Trafford, Manchester in 1956. He also had 9 wickets in the first innings and his 19 wickets in a test remained a world record.

20 years back, on 7th February 1999 Indian ace leg spinner Anil Kumble equalled Laker’s record of 10 wickets in an innings when he ran through a strong Pakistani batting line to take all 10 wickets in the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in Delhi. 

Pakistan was touring India after a gap of 12 years and already had a 1-0 lead in the series after winning in Chennai when they reached the Indian capital Delhi. Indians wanted to take revenge and started brightly with top order contributing. Sadgopan Ramesh led the way with a 60 and middle order was held by a classy 67 from captain Azharuddin. At 231 for 4, India were threatening to get many more but as the nature of these games suggests, Pakistan clawed back and took last 6 wickets for 21 runs. Two of those were run outs. India finished with 252. It was early on the second day.

Image Source – The Indian Express

Pakistan started their innings shakily and never recovered. For them, the highest individual score was a candid 32 from Shahid Afridi. Four Indian bowlers shared wickets with Srinath taking one, Venkatesh Prasad taking 2, Harbhajan Singh taking 3, and Anil Kumble taking 4 wickets. India got a handy first innings lead of 80 and built on it. Ramesh played his best innings and scored 96, decorated by 15 boundaries. In the lower middle order, Ganguly and Srinath made important contributions. Srinath missed his half-century by a solitary run and Ganguly remained unbeaten on 62. The target for Pakistanis was set as 420. A target which was never chased in test cricket and with almost two more days to go Indian fans were confident of a win.

Also Read: The Indian Hero – Rahul Dravid

But Pakistan started confidently and the openers batted till lunch. 100 was scored with a run-rate more than 4 runs per over. Anil Kumble kept toiling hard. On his 7th over with Pakistan’s score at 101, he finally managed to get a nick of Afridi which was gleefully captured by the wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia. Afridi was distraught and acted as if there was no chance of he playing that ball but in those days of no DRS had to walk back. Dangerous Ijaz Ahmed came but Kumble got his foot in line of the wicket first ball. Suddenly Pakistan were without two wickets. Inzamam came at number four, played with his trademark lazy elegance. But with the score on 115, he was bowled to quicker delivery from Kumble. Kumble got another wicket in that over as Mohammad Yousuf was leg before on the 5th ball. At 115 for four the Pakistan chase looked in jeopardy. Soon Kumble got two more as Ganguly caught wicketkeeper Moin Khan in the slips and then the opener Saeed Anwar was also gone after scoring a half-century, caught by Laxman at short leg. This was Kumble’s 6th wicket in that innings and 10 for the match.

Image Source – India Today

Veteran Saleem Malik and captain Wasim Akram built a partnership and there was no wicket for a 16 overs period. But none of the Indian players looked worried as wickets were expected to fall at any time. Finally, after adding 58 runs in the partnership Malik was bowled by Kumble playing a pull shot after scoring a difficult 15 of 67 balls. By then Kumble’s 10 wickets in the innings looked very much possible.

Few overs later, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq were gone in back to back deliveries and Kumble had 9. There was an interesting 60th over of the match, bowled by Javagal Srinath where all the Indian players including Srinath did not want to take the wicket. On the other hand, Pakistani number eleven Waqar Younis was trying to get out to not give Kumble all ten. Luckily Kumble ended all this drama in the next over. A forward push from Akram took the age and flew to short leg for Laxman to grab. With that Anil Kumble became just the second person to take all the ten wickets in an innings in a test match. India was victorious by 212 runs. Kumble’s second innings analysis was 26.3-9-74-10. 

Celebrations went on for hours and days. The win over Pakistan was always special and was no so frequent during the ’90s. Kumble ended with 14 wickets in the match. Interesting stories started to come up. The umpire AV Jayaprakash who made all the decisions for Kumble was from the same state, Karnataka. Sachin Tendulkar considered being the lucky charm for Kumble. Before the over in which Kumble took the first couple of wickets, Tendulkar took his cap and sweater and handed it to the umpire. Once the wickets were fallen, Tendulkar kept doing it before every over till the match end.

A Duleep Trophy Master Class By Yusuf Pathan

A Duleep Trophy Master Class By Yusuf Pathan

Yusuf Pathan remained an enigma for Indian cricket fans. Some of his performances in domestic cricket, IPL and in India colours have proved that he can be a world-beater on his days. But there were also many days where he did not click and fall flat. 

Pathan made his senior national team debut in the final of the 2007 T20 World Cup due to an injury of Virender Sehwag. For the next four-five years, India tried him to fit into the coveted all-rounder spot in the team. He scored two ODI hundreds, roughly within a month. The first one against New Zeland helped India to chase a 300 plus target. The second one was scored at Centurion. Chasing 250, Indian top order was blown away by the trio of Steyn, Morkel, and Tsotsobe. Pathan came to bat at 60 for 5 in the 12th over. Pathan Started slowly but India were soon 98 for 7 and at 119 for 8 looked like the end was near. But then With Zaheer Khan for company Pathan found his touch. The duo added 100 runs in less than 13 overs for the 9th wicket with Pathan contributing 79 of 40 balls. This was India’s highest 9th wicket partnership against South Africa.

Pathan has similar performances in IPL too, his 37-ball 100 against MI was the then fastest century in IPL and he was a key performer for IPL wins for the Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders. Pathan was generally considered better suited for limited over games and was not considered to play a test match for India. However, he has 11 first-class centuries playing for Baroda in Ranji Trophy and West Zone in Duleep Trophy. And his most memorable performance came on 6th February 2010.

Yusuf Pathan (Image- Getty Images)

It was the final of Duleep Trophy played in Hyderabad between South Zone and West Zone.

South Zone was lacking their stars like Uthappa and Ashwin. The captain Dinesh Karthik had a young team to work with and he led from the front on day one to take the early initiatives. South ended the first day with 356 for 6 with DK remaining not out at 161. The next morning Karthik went on to score 183 and South were bowled out for 400. The other Pathan, Irfan got a five-wicket haul. Coming out to bat West Zone was in early trouble as C Ganapathy ran through the top order. Yusuf started to counter-attack and despite no support from other end completed his century and ended with a 76-ball 108. The next best score was 27 from Dhawal Kulkarni which helped West to score past 250.

In South Zone’s second innings, Karthik was once again the star and scored another big hundred. His 150 and fellow wicket-keeper CM Gautam’s 88 took South to 386 and when they declared after setting a target of 536 for West Zone, the fate of the match looked sealed. But West Zone batsmen were ready to fight in the second innings. The openers Chirag Pathak and Harshad Khadiwale added 117 followed by another 100 run partnership between Pathak and captain Wasim Jaffar. But they lost their way and at 294 for 5 with only bowlers to chase the target looked out of their reach.

Also Read: Players to watch out in the NZ v Ind T20I series

Once again Yusuf Pathan took a lead. With Brother Irfan, he added 84 where Irfan was the primary contributor. Once Irfan was gone at the score of 378, it was left to Yusuf to finish. He added 105 runs with wicketkeeper Pinal Shah where Shah’s contribution was 16. Pathan kept hitting his shots. When Shah was out the target was just around 50 which Pathan scored in the next 10-11 overs with Ramesh Powar giving him company. In the process, he reached his double century and remained unbeaten on 210 scored on 190 balls. In total, he hit 19 boundaries and 10 massive sixes. West Zone completed one of the least likely chases to win by 3 wickets.

The previous highest first-class chase was 513 for 9 in Sri Lankan domestic cricket. The teams were Central province who completed this against Southern province. But Pathan’s best ever performance ensured that West Zone broke this record. This is also one of the rare incidents when two players from opposing teams scored centuries in both innings of the match.

Spot Fixing ruins the career of young Mohammad Amir

Spot Fixing was brought to highlight

In 2010, the cricket world was astonished by the Spot Fixing revelations by the undercover reporters from ‘News of the World’. Although 5th February 2011 was a key date but to understand the incident we have to go back to August 2010. 

Pakistan were touring England. Salman Butt was the leader and along with Mohammad Yousuf, Azhar Ali, and Akmal brothers would take care of the batting. They had a strong bowling attack led by Mohammad Asif with Riaz, Ajmal, and the young talented Mohammad Amir. Amir burst into the scene in 2009 and by that time had played 13 test matches to get 45 wickets.

It was the fourth test of the series in Lord’s. Pakistan won the toss and elected to field. Most of the first day was wasted due to rain and bad light. On day two, Amir bowled a huge no-ball while bowling the first ball of the third over of the day. Amir had problems with bowling no-balls but this was over the line by such a big margin that both umpires and commentators were surprised. In total Amir bowled 4 No-balls and Asif bowled 2 in that match. England won the match easily by an innings and 225 runs.

Image- Getty Images

The disturbing news started coming a few days later. On 29th August the tabloid ‘News of the World’ broke the story that the no-balls bowled by Amir and Asif were pre-planned and was under the control of captain Salman Butt. It was revealed as a result of a sting operation where their investigations editor Mazhar Mahmood got hold of Mazhar Majeed who was also the manager of Butt and some more players. They captured footage of Majeed taking bribes to ensure that the Pakistani bowlers Amir and Asif would bowl no-balls in specific points of the match. This was considered as a spot-fixing by which the bookies could ensure a huge profit by betting on that particular incident. Before the Lord’s test, Mazhar handed over 140k pounds to Majeed so that he could arrange 3 no balls from Amir and Asif on the particular point of games and Butt was also involved as being a captain he could control his bowlers and bowling changes.

Once the news was out, it created a huge controversy. The entire cricket world was rattled. UK police did a search of players’ rooms and found 2.5K and 1.5K pounds from Butt and Amir’s room. The currency notes were the same which was marked by Mazhar before handing it out to Majeed.

Also Read: When Indian fans applauded Pakistan

Both the teams were under shock and on September 2, ICC banned the three players and started proceeding for hearing. It was a long procedure with multiple changes of venues for the hearing. The players kept mentioning their innocence but for the entire cricket world, it was a sad incident. Not only some very talented players wasted their career it all brought back the memories from the match-fixing saga from 10 years back.

Finally, on 5th February 2011, ICC announced their decision. All the players were banned; Butt for 10 years, Asif for 7 years and Amir for 5 years. Even Scotland Yard also did an independent investigation and the players were found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments (Spot Fixing) and were sentenced to jail. The period for Butt was 2.5 years, for Asif 1 year and for Amir 6 months. Majeed was handed a sentence of 2 years and 8 months. After spending three months in the Portland Young Offenders Institution, Amir was released.

Amir started playing the local club cricket in Pakistan from 2015. He made a return to international cricket in January 2016 and remained an important member of the Pakistan team since then. Butt and Asif, although played domestic cricket, never get close to a return to the national team.

Sir Hadlee – First Member of the ‘400 Wickets’ Gang

First Member of the ‘400 Wickets’ Gang

Bowlers are always key members in a team and almost always the reason for the victory in test cricket. Whereas the ’90s and 2000s were the era of spinners with Murali, Warne, and Kumble in the top of their form, ’70s and ’80s were the witness of those big mean fast bowlers to rule the test cricket. 

There was obviously the pace battery for West Indies with Marshall, Holding, Roberts, Croft, Garner, and others. There were Lillee and Thomson for Australia, Botham, and Willis for England and even India and Pakistan had Kapil Dev and Imran Khan respectively. And then there was Sir Richard Hadlee from New Zealand.

He tirelessly carried the New Zealand bowling and their hopes for the better part of 16 years. He was instrumental for them in their first test win and first test series win in England. His 9 for 52 in Brisbane also gave them a memorable victory over their neighbours Australia. Richar Hadlee is considered as the greatest proponent with the new ball by many experts. The bowling all round took 431 wickets in his 86 test appearances which was a world record at that time.

Richard Hadlee (Image- Getty Images)

He became the first bowler in the history of test cricket to add 400 wickets to his name with an average of 22.29. His batting stints were modest enough and he scored 3124 test runs at an average of 27.16 with two centuries and 15 fifties. Sir Hadlee is one of the four players to have taken 400 Test wickets and scored over 3,000 runs. He was the first to achieve this feat followed by Kapil Dev, Shaun Pollock, and Shane Warne. He is considered to be one of the finest four all-rounders of all time, the other being Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Ian Botham. Hadlee had the best bowling average of these four.

Sir Hadlee has the third most five and ten-wicket hauls in test cricket in the list of fast bowlers. The toppers are Muralitharan and Shane Warne. He played 43 Tests and took 201 wickets at an average of 22.96 in the home. But his records are better for away matches as he took 230 wickets at an average of 21.72 in 43 Tests. In overseas games, he took 21 five-wicket hauls, the most by any fast bowler with only Muttiah Muralitharan leading with 22.

400th wicket

Hadlee debuted in test in 1973. But he was an inconsistent performer for several years. He couldn’t prove himself at test level until he got the first breakthrough against India in 1976. He took 11 wickets to seal the win for his side along with his position in the team.

Hadlee’s 400 wicket feat was also achieved against India. In a home series against India in 1989-90 New Zealand was playing the first test at Hadlee’s home ground I Christchurch. A group of old boys from his school was chanting his school song. O the third day, February 4, 1990, he dismissed Sanjay Manjrekar in the second innings and became the first test bowler to take 400 wickets by dismissing in the history of test cricket. He took seven wickets in the match and Danny Morrison took six. John Wright took nine long hours to craft 185 that eventually gave New Zealand a comfortable ten-wicket victory.

Also Read: The day when Indian fans applauded Pakistan

Sir Hadlee stands as the second fastest test bowler to reach 400 wickets milestone. Muttiah Muralitharan is ahead of him as he took 72 test matches to take 400 wickets and Hadlee took 80 matches. The other three in the top five list are the joint holder of the second position with Hadlee, Dale Steyn (80th match v Bangladesh), Herath (84th match v Pakistan) and Anil Kumble (85th match v Australia). Interestingly only two closest contemporaries of Haldee in the list are Courtney Walsh at 13th rank (107th match v Australia) and 14th rank (115th match v Australia).

A Century, A Debut & A Draw – AB de Villiers and Kevin Pietersen

A Century, A Debut & A Draw - AB de Villiers and Kevin Pietersen

There are quite a few incidents of two or more great players making their debuts in the same period. We all remember Sachin Tendulkar and Waqar Younis making their debut in the same match in Karachi in 1989 followed by certain Shane Warne, in Tendulkar’s first Australia tour. 

Although only one player made his debut on 2nd February 2005 in Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein, there was another young player from his opponents who announced himself in that match. And both of them went on to become modern legends and they are two of the most loved cricketers all over the world.

Image- Youtube

England were touring South Africa for 5 tests and 7 One-Day Internationals. After winning the test series 2-1, the English players were quite upbeat. England squad led by Michael Vaughan were missing the service of key all-rounder Andrew Flintoff. South Africa despite being a strong team lost the test series and the first ODI. So they were already under pressure.

After the 2003 World cup, where both England and South Africa failed to make a mark, teams were going through the transition and quite a few new players were tested. For England, in the forefront was Kevin Pietersen, a swash-buckling batsman who was originally from Natal, South Africa. A wonderful young talent, Pietersen was already a flashy character, although no one would expect all the various controversies he had to face later, his talent was everyone to see. Although he appeared in test arena in 2005, he already made his ODI debut in Zimbabwe. Pietersen remained not out in three of his first 4 innings and played a steady unbeaten 22 in the first ODI to help England win by D/L method.

Also Read: Unknown Records held by Tendulkar

For South Africa, the youngster who attracted everyone was Abraham Benjamin de Villiers. A livewire in the field, AB made his test debut during the test series and after a collective batting failure was drafted in the first eleven in the second ODI.

Sent to bat, England were in early trouble and Pietersen came to bat at 67 for 3. He took some time to settle down but once set he started to dominate the bowlers. Attractive pulls and sweeps were in display and once he passed his second ODI fifty he started acceleration. Andre Nel had to suffer as Pietersen muscled his way to his first ODI century, a brilliant effort which saw him finish with a 96-ball 108. He remained not out till the end to propel England to 270.

South Africa started the chase with Captain Smith paired with the debutant de Villiers. It was a steady start and both of them reached their twenties. But after the 10th over, while trying to up the ante, both of them perished within four balls. However Kallis and Gibbs built a good partnership and at 185 for 2 wickets in 38th Over, South Africa looked set to win. However, like many of their matches, South Africa started to mess it up suddenly. Both Kallis and Gibbs were gone by the 46th over. The target was still 34 runs. Even the big-hitter Kemp were also gone.

The final equation came down to 8 require of last 6 balls. Boucher was on strike with Pollock on the other end. A high full toss from Kabir Ali to Boucher resulted in a no-ball and boundary and gave the early advantage to South Africa who required an easy 3 of 5. But Boucher was caught next ball. A dot ball was followed by a single and the run out of new batsman Ashwell Prince.

With 2 of 2 required, Pollock somehow hit the 5th ball and scampered for one. The new batsman Andrew Hall was on strike on the last ball. Wicketkeeper Jones came close to the wicket. Ali bowled a full ball just outside off-stump, Hall missed it and in all the excitement just came out of his crease. Jones was alert enough to get the ball and flicked the bails to get a tie for England. The England team were ecstatic as it was a tie which looked unlikely even just a few overs back.

Both KP and ABDV went on to become legends of the game with some outstanding performances in next 10-12 years.

Chappell – The Underarm Saga

In the Australian summer of 1980-81, New Zealand and India joined Australia to play the World Series Cup, the annual triangular series which was going to become a norm in the coming years. 

Despite some good performance from India, it was Australia and New Zealand who qualified for the final series. It was a best-of-five match series and any team winning 3 matches would have been announced the winner. After the end of the first two matches, the score was 1-1, when on 1st February 1981, the teams met in Melbourne Cricket Ground and the third final was underway.

Image- Wikipedia

Australia won the toss and decided to bat. Sir Richard Hadlee gave the first breakthrough to New Zealand when he got Allan Border out for just 5. The fellow opener Graham Wood and Captain Greg Chappell built a partnership close to 150 runs and when Wood was out for 72, Australia were already set for a good total. Chappell scored 90 and post his dismissal Kent and Marsh played handy cameos to take the team total to 235 for 4 in 50 overs. For New Zealand, Sneden took 2 wickets and McEwan took the other wicket. Till then it was a pretty regular One day match.

It remained pretty normal even when New Zealand started their chase. Openers John Wright and Bruce Edgar gave a good start and although wickets were going from one end, Edgar reached his 100. He and Parker added 49 runs in the sixth wicket and took New Zealand close to the target. With 15 required from seven, Lillee got Parker caught by Trevor Chappell, the younger brother of Captain Greg, a relatively unsuccessful all-rounder who played a huge role in erupting the controversy.

Also Read: A rare moment when Indian fans applauded Pakistan

He was given the responsibility of defending 15 in the last over. Hadlee was the new batsman, who hit his first delivery to the boundary before getting leg before in the next ball. New Zealand’s live wire wicketkeeper Ian Smith was the next to come in who scored a couple of two’s and brought the equation to 7 of two balls. In all that time, Edgar was stuck in the non-striker end. Smith was bowled in the 5th delivery by Chappell which brought New Zealand number 10, Brian McKechnie to the crease. McKechnie was an out bowler with a First class average of 8. Now he needed to do the improbable task of hitting a six on the only delivery he will face to get a tie for his country.

Greg was in lots of pressure and too many things were in his mind. Earlier in the summer, the test series against India was drawn 1-1 and he was desperate to win this tournament. Before the final delivery, he called his brother and had a long discussion. In a shocking move, it looked from their body language that Greg was suggesting his younger brother to bowl underarm. By that time, underarm bowling was already banned in England. Although it was allowed in Australia, it was obviously considered to be highly against the spirit of the game. And hence, at the heat of the moment there was a ‘Brain fade’ moment for another Australian captain and despite disapproval from his own players, Greg asked Trevor to go ahead and bowl the last delivery underarm.

Both McKechnie and Edgar were visibly disgusted. Trevor duly bowled the ball underarm along the ground. Mckechnie defended and while walking out threw his bat out of anger. This shook the entire cricket world as the news was spread. Underarm bowling was immediately banned from the series and later from all forms of cricket. There was huge criticism against Chappell who was not reprimanded by the board as he did not break any written law or regulation. But it was a new low for the overall game and Greg and Australians lost a few friends on that day. The incident resulted in statements from both country’s prime ministers and still considered as one of the most controversial incidents in a cricket ground ever.

When Indian Fans Applauded Pakistan

When Indian Fans Applauded Pakistan

One of the biggest rivalries in sports is when India and Pakistan face each other on 22 yards. Although political tension between these countries in the last 72 years reduced the number of cricket matches, for cricket lovers India- Pakistan matches are still on the top priority. 

From Miandad’s last ball six in Sharjah to Kohli’s T20 masterclass in Kolkata, there are many India-Pakistan battles which have stayed in the mind of cricket fans for the ages.

20 years ago, on 31st January 1999, these two teams were engaged on another epic battle. Although the climax in semi-dark MA Chidambaram Stadium was heartbreaking for one set of fans it is still remembered as one of the memorable test matches.

The background of the series made it even more attractive and followed by the global media. India and Pakistan were going to play a test series after more than nine years and the relationship between these two countries were not great and went downhill since the last few years. From a cricketing standpoint, both teams looked equally balanced with many legends and future legends in the team.

The touring Pakistanis were led by legendary Wasim Akram, who along with Waqar Younis and Saqlain Mushtaq would take care of the bowling. For batting, they had Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, a young Shahid Afridi and Saeed Anwar, the owner of then ODI highest score of 194, scored against these opponents in the same venue couple of years back.

Sachin Tendulkar @Chennai Test against Pakistan, 1999 (Image- AFP)

Mohammad Azharuddin was leading the Indians. Sachin Tendulkar was leading the batting pack along with Ganguly and Dravid and also the exciting home boy Sadgopan Ramesh was making his debut. The bowling saw an all-Karnataka attack involving, Srinath, Prasad, Kumble and Sunil Joshi.

As expected between two strong teams, the match was a see-saw battle and no one could manage to hold the advantage for long enough. Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first. Indians came with early strikes and Pakistan were 91 for 5 just after lunch. Yousuf and wicketkeeper Moin Khan led the recovery. Two fifties from them and some valuable contribution from skipper Akram took them to 238, much less than they would expect. Debutant Ramesh started briskly and by the close of day one, the Pakistan lead was cut down to 190 without any wicket. But again as the flow of the game, Pakistan made a strong comeback and got hold of both openers before Saqlain got Tendulkar for naught. Dravid and Ganguly formed a 50-run partnership before the former was gone for 53. Ganguly batted with the tail patiently and his 54 and Joshi’s 25 were the key reasons for India taking a slender 16 run lead. Pakistan had a slow start but Afridi lit up the ground on the 4th day with his 141 and with 275 for four, Pakistan looked in pretty good shape. But the lanky Venkatesh Prasad had a different plan and in a wonderful spell of 5 wickets for zero runs resulted in Pakistan losing their last six wickets for only 11 runs.

The target for India was 271 for a famous win. The openers were gone with the score at 6. Tendulkar came out to bat determined and played out the day with Dravid. The fifth day started with India needed 231 runs and Pakistan needed eight wickets to win the match. It was promised to be a memorable day and it was. Dravid was soon gone by a magic delivery from Akram, a ball which pitched on leg stump and swings late to take the off bail. Tendulkar kept playing shots but lost Azhar and Ganguly from the other end. Ganguly was given a wrongful dismissal after the ball clearly touched the ground. With India 82 for 5, the end looked near.

But Tendulkar found his ally in wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia. The duo added 136 runs and slowly brought the advantage back to India. But at 236 for 5, with a personal score of 52, Mongia tried to hit Akram and was caught by Waqar. The subplot forming in the other end was the back pain for Tendulkar who by then passed a century. He looked visibly uncomfortable with every passing over and was mostly playing with his will power and skill. He could not bend properly to play his shots but still held one end up. At 254, with only 17 runs to get, Tendulkar hit a lofted shot of Saqlain and got caught by Akram. It was a masterful inning of 136 but he could not finish the match for India.

Once Tendulkar was gone the Pakistanis attacked the tail. Akram got Kumble, and Saqlain got Srinath and Joshi to finish with 5 for 93 along with the 5 for 94 in the first innings. India were close but not close enough to win the match. Finally, India lost the test match by just 12 runs. These are the times when sports become a part of life. Indian fans on the ground were heartbroken but they showed their sporting face and cheered for the Pakistanis who a small victory lapped to accept the praise.

The Ambrose Magic | 18-9-25-7

Curtly Ambrose

After the heart-stopping one-run victory in Adelaide, the touring West Indians moved to Perth to play the fifth and the final test match of a riveting series. Australia and West Indies have played many memorable series, nothing more than the famed 1960-61 series in Australia which saw test cricket’s first tied match.

Also Read: The Closest Test Match Win | West Indies vs Australia

This 1993 series was almost at par with the intensity and quality of cricket. Allan Border was developing an Australian test unit that would become the best in the generation in a few years to come and West Indies was trying to hold to their past glory without key players like Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall, and Gordon Greenidge. With the series stood at 1-1, everything was at stake in this fifth test in WACA.

Perth is considered to be one of the fastest pitches in the world and in those days it was considered to be even quicker. Still, on 30th January 1993, Border showed trust on his batsmen and elected to bat after winning the toss to take the early initiatives.

The Australian batting till lunch somewhat justified his choice. For Australia experienced David Boon opened with the young Justin Langer. Ian Bishop provided the early damage and got hold of young Langer and number three Steve Waugh. However Boon was solid in the other end and Australia went to lunch at 85 for 2 with the match evenly balanced.

Curtly Ambrose bowling for West Indies during the 5th Test match between Australia and West Indies at the WACA, Perth, Australia (Photo by Professional Sport/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

The magic started after lunch, the magic of Curtly Ambrose. In a Perth pitch with very good bounce and carry he became lethal in his spell after lunch. One perfect delivery to Mark Waugh just outside his off stump induced the edge for Ambrose’ first wicket. Boon who reached to 44 was next to go. The ball bounced from a good length and took the shoulder of the bat; a very good catch was taken by West Indian captain Richie Richardson. The border was the next man in, who got a nasty delivery first up and had no other option than nicking it to the wicketkeeper Junior Murray for a first-ball duck.

Australians were suddenly 90 for 5 losing 3 wickets for five runs post lunch. The next man was Ian Healy who bagged a pair in the last test in Adelaide. Although he saved the hat trick but was gone in Ambrose’ next over with his third consecutive duck when he pushed at a delivery just outside off to give a simple catch to Brian Lara in the slips. The big Merv Hughes was the next man in and although he was expected to provide support to Damien Martyn in the other end he instead tried to play a big shot and was duly caught by Keith Arthurton of Ambrose. This was Ambrose’ fifth wicket of the innings and Australia were 102 for 7. Even Australia’s final hopes were gone when Martyn pushed to another fastball in the channel just outside off stump to Phil Simmons. For the debutant Jo Angel, this was something out of his league and in the fourth ball he faced, he hung his bat away to give a catch to the keeper. This was Ambrose’ 7th wicket in that spell in 32 balls costing only 1 run. This 7 for 1 is considered to be one of the greatest examples of fast bowling and displayed all the skill, accuracy and venom for Ambrose.

Australia could only reach 119 and the result of the match and series was pretty much sealed. West Indies replied with 322 driven by a couple of the fifties from Simmons and Arthurton. Australia did not perform much better in the second innings either. Only Boon held his fort and scored 52. Border got another duck to register his first pair in his 138th test match. This time, Bishop was the destroyer in chief as he picked up 6 wickets for 60 runs. Ambrose took two more and the match was over five minutes before the lunch on day three to give West Indies a test win by innings and 25 runs and along with that, the series win by the 2-1 scoreline.

WACA in Perth has seen many great fast bowling performances, especially being the home ground for Australian legend Dennis Lillee but that display of pace and accuracy from Ambrose on that day was in a different plane and remained one of the most memorable in the history of the game.

The Jamaica Incident – West Indies vs England | On This Day, Year 1998

The Jamaica Incident - West Indies vs England | On This Day, Year 1998

In the 140 plus years history of Test match cricket, there were quite a few incidents of test or One day match being abandoned. 

Rain and weather issues obviously are the primary reason for most such cases but there are instances of matches being abandoned due to riots, strikes, the death of political personality etc. However, on 29th January 1998, the Test match between West Indies and England in Sabina Park Jamaica was abandoned just after 62 balls because of a dangerous pitch. That was the first time when an international cricket match was abandoned due to an unfit twenty-two yards.

This was the first test of another well-anticipated series between the two countries. Brian Lara was captaining West Indies with his two main weapons Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh whereas a Mike Atherton led England team had Alec Stewart, Nasser Hussain, and Graham Thorpe to counter the threat.

Image Credits: Graham Thorpe. PC: Cricinfo

The concern regarding the pitch in Sabina Park was there from the very beginning. The pitch was relayed just a few months back to change it to a more fast-paced one and that resulted in disaster. Although Charlie Joseph, the groundsman, and George Prescod, the Jamaican board chief executive were confident that everything would be fine on the day of the test match the doubts were already there. Most of the pre-match articles mentioned the poor condition of the pitch which looked like a thin layer of shiny soil and expected to break from the very moment the match would start. It was discussed in the pre-match press conference and Atherton handled the question politely mentioning that, at times pitches do play better than they look. But the concerns were everywhere. Even the designated match officials Steve Bucknor and Srinivas Venkataraghavan had a discussion with Barry Jarman, the match referee, regarding their concern on the pitch.

On the match day, Atherton won the toss and decided to bat first as he expected the conditions to get worse as the match would progress. But they did not have to wait for long. In the very first over, Atherton faced two deliveries which drop nearly in the same area in the pitch, one going above his head and the other going at his shin level.

The cricket which took place for next fifty-five minutes was a farce. England lost three wickets, Atherton, come back man Mark Butcher for a golden duck and Nasser Hussain. But instead of celebrating even the West Indies players were also worried about what they were seeing. Stewart was holding one end and played one of the most heroic nine not out in history as per Wisden. He was bruised and battered as the English physio Wayne Morton came on to the field six times to attend batsmen affected by direct hits from Ambrose and Walsh.

Finally, after 61 legal deliveries and one No-ball, the match reached his tipping point. When Thorpe was once again hit on his elbow Stewart was livid, he expressed his displeasure to the umpires and while discussing they asked for drinks-trolley to come to ground. As Stewart signaled for Atherton, he came back to ground and discussion followed between him, his opposite number Lara, the umpires and match referee. Finally, after ten minutes long discussion the umpires took the players off the field and within an hour after discussing with the ICC officials in London the match was called off.

It was a huge embarrassment for Jamaica as well as West Indies cricket. The criticism came from every quarter. To amend the damage, another test match was hastily organized in Trinidad. However, the damage it caused by the game and Jamaica’s reputation was long-lasting. The ground authority finally dug up the entire centre and tested various kind of soils before choosing the right one for the next test match in that venue.