Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Jumping Javed : Flashback 1992

India-Pakistan encounters have always been no less than the pacy, Hollywoodian pot boilers, with their fair share of numerous ups and downs, but the ones at the World Cups have always been the icings on the cake. Reason ?

Because India hasn't ever lost to them in World Cups.

One such(and in my opinion the best Indo-Pak encounter) nail biting thriller took place in 1992 WC. That WC took place in the midst of our ICSE(Std. X) board exams, and can arguably be termed as the most controversial WC ever.

I have some interesting memories of that match which took place on the fateful fourth day of March. We had our early morning Physics practical, and I had made a terrible mess of that. But post noon proceedings brightened my day up.

By the time I reached home, a young, unadulterated Ajay Jadeja had already played the first important innings of his life. My mom was sore that he had been playing, and smiling beautifully till he was controversially given out caught though ball had clearly grazed the ground.

I had the vivid memory of him from our previous match with Australia where he took the second best catch of the tournament to send Allan Border packing.

But the battle was on. Sachin, who then played in middle order, was playing the innings of his life. Together with Kapil Dev he took India to a fighting 216.

I remember one particular shot, when he beautifully read the slower ball from Aqib Javed and ferociously lofted it over the mid wicket. Wasim Akram, then lanky, was standing well inside the boundary so he couldn't reach it. Ball hit the hoardings, but Umpire signaled it a six. After a discussion with Imran Khan, it was changed to four as the ball didn't go above the boundary wall.

The other shot I liked was when Kapil Dev hit a magnificent six rows back over the long off to Mushtaq Ahmed. Mind you, that was Sydney Cricket Ground - the biggest Cricket stadium in the world.

Of course, Pakistani were chaste in their abuses with captain leading from the front. I could lip read the exact profanity he hurled at the substitute Ejaj Ahmed when latter misfielded at the long off.

The real drama, however, unfolded in the second innings.

Inzamam, unlike now days, opened then, and wasn't yet "discovered" by Imran Khan, which latter dutifully did in semifinal and final. His footwork wasn't as great as it is today because he was trapped plumb in front of the wickets as early as third over. His replacement Zahid Fazal didn't last long either.

It was then when Amir Sohail dropped guard. He first consolidated, and then alarmingly accelerated. Together with Javed Miandad, they took the score past 100. To add to the Indian misery, Srikanth dropped his catch, but made amends the very next ball, when he caught him fantastically at a very short midwicket off Sachin's ball. Sachin that day, it seems, could do nothing wrong.

However, the person who insured victory for India was Javed Miandad. He was in his complete elements that day. First he ran his captain Imran Khan out, for a duck, who again went away mouthing choicest abuses.

If all this wasn't enough, Miandad broke out in a verbal scuffle with the wicketkeeper Kiran More who had made a couple of vociferous appeals for caught behind. To make the matter worse, he started jumping to imitate More in appeal which made Azhar, the captain, visibly angry and he report it to umpires. It was evident that he didn't fix match in those days.

To top it off, he took so many balls for his paltry runs that added tremendous pressure on his side. His final score was 40, for which he took more than 110 balls. Finally his frustrations and miseries came to end when he was clean bowled superbly by Javagal Srinath, who could bowl actual yorkers those days.

Tail buckled easily, with Akram stumped off Venkatpati Raju, the muscles. Match was over as India won by 43 runs with Sachin Tendulkar man of the match.

By then, my flunked physics practical was a faint memory. I still don't regret it.

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