A Friday at Sharjah in the 1980s use to dish out some exciting games of leather and wood. If it happened to be a India-Pakistan contest then it was sure to be a tight contest. One such duel began on March 22nd. Pakistan was keen on revenge after the loss at the hand of India in the Benson and Hedges Cup final in Australia, just a few weeks earlier. Both outfits were immensely talented and promised an enthralling affair in the commencement of the Rothman’s Cup.
Javed opted to field first in the seam bowling friendly weather and Imran reaped the benefit to the fullest extent. It was the one of the best display of the swing bowling in the limited overs. He rocked the Indian top order and completed a five-for in his first spell as India was reduced to 5/34. Captain Kapil then joined Azhar in the rescue task. Kapil’s quick 30 provided a glimpse of hope but the spin of Tauseef removed him and wickets kept tumbling. Azhar top-scored with 47 and India managed only 125. Imran was the star of the innings with 10-2-14-6, his career best effort.
125 was not even a modest score. India had no hopes of winning the game. Friday use to be a long break at Sharjah and on top of that the Indian team was bowled out in 43 overs, thus another half an hour was added to the break. Indian team took a nice nap, as Sunny recalled during his TV show. When they got ready to get back out to the ground, Kapil said “let’s give a fight guys”. The target was small enough that Indians had to sharp in field and accurate in bowling and could not afford any mistakes, at the same time it was enough to take it too lightly for the Pakistan camp.
Pakistan began the chase and lost Mohsin to a run out but Mudassar and Rameez meant business as they reached 35 in 6th over. Binny produced a beauty that induced an outside edge from Mudassar and Sunny grabbed it at first slip. Kapil introduced spin very early and the move paid off. Shastri produced a beauty and Sunny again caught Javed for a duck. Sivaramkrishan then made inroads with two successive strikes: Keeper Ashraf followed by dangerous Imran. Imran was beaten in flight and was stumped. The scoreboard at this stage read 5/41 and India was back in the game. Pakistan still had very good chance with well set Rameez along with Saleem Malik and Manzoor Elahi and Wasim Akram to follow.
Saleem-Rameez beagn the rescue task an added 33 for the sixth wicket before Shatri produced yet another edge, this time of Malik’s bat that landed in safe hand of Sunny at the first slip. Kapil then grabbed the danger man Rameez, again caught by Gavaskar. Kapil and Madan Lal soon wrapped the tail and the Pakistan innings folded in 87. Rameez topped with 29. All Indian bowlers chipped in with wickets. Sunil Gavaskar took the honors in the field with 4 catches. The day however, belonged to the bowlers as only 7 batsman in both innings combined could reach double digits. Imran took the player of the match award.
India advanced to the finals with this win where they beat the Australians and completed their forth major title win since the 1983 world cup. This win depicted the Indian teams dominance on the world cricket scene at that time. It was yet another example of brilliant team-work and the Indian team rose to occasion yet another time. The game became an instant classic.
– Nikhil Sharad Jadhav