The 1987 Reliance World Cup, held in India-Pakistan, saw many a close finishes. Most of them were decided on the last delivery of the game. On October 16, one such nail-biting finish saw Pakistan finish their first round of group matches with an unbeaten record. Yet it could not have been closer. With their last pair at the wicket they wanted 14 from the last over to be bowled. West-Indies had faced a similar situation in their previous game against England and had Courtney Walsh bowl the last over and he went for runs as England won the game.
West-Indies opted to bat first and riding on half centuries by opener Simmons and skipper Richards they registered a competitive score of 216 before being bowled out in the last over. Imran led the pack with 4/37 and was ably supported by his left arm seamers Akram (2/45) and Jaffer (3/30). When Pakistan began the chase the pace trio of Patterson-Walsh-Baptiste made run scoring difficult and Harper and Hooper bowled a very tight line and bagged key scalps of Rameez and Javed respectively. Pakistan found themselves out of options at 5/110 in 35 overs.
Skipper Imran then gave a good support to Salim Yousuf, who enjoyed at least three lives, as the pair added 73 in eleven overs. Walsh finally removed the skipper and Pakistan were looking at 34 needed in 4 overs. Yousuf was finally caught in Walsh’s penultimate over (48th of the game) after a blistering knock of 56 (of 49); Patterson’s final over brought two wickets while only 2 runs were added. So came the final over, 14 needed with Abdul Qadir (3*) on strike. Qadir had a dismal day with ball as he went wicket-less. Richards probably had two options, Baptiste (8-0-33-0) or Walsh (9-1-37-2) who had just taken two key wickets (Imran and Yousuf) in his last two overs but was also the one who bowled the last over against England. Viv trusted Walsh to do the needful.
The events that unfolded in the last over were the most dramatic anyone has ever seen in an ODI till date:
Ball 1: Quadir hit it to long on but could only managed a single (13 needed of 5 now)
Ball 2: Jaffer gave a wild heave as the ball went to covers and he managed a single (12 needed of 4 now)
Ball 3: Quadir tried to pull and failed to connect it well, ball again went to long-on but Walsh failed to collect the throw and the batsmen managed the second run (10 needed of 3 now)
Ball 4: Qadir, smashed a straight-hit six that raised a crowd of more than 50,000 to new heights of ecstasy (4 needed of 2 now)
Ball 5: Qadir made room and smashed it deep extra cover as the batsmen ran two (2 needed of the last ball)
Last ball: Walsh, could have run out Jaffer for backing up too soon, but good sportsmanship prevailed.
Last ball: Qadir then steered the last ball to third man as batsmen completed two runs needed for victory
Pakistan had won by one wicket of the last ball, but they could have very well lost it by one run had Courtney Walsh not showed a tremendous gesture of sportsmanship. There were split opinions about what he did with-in his own team, as for some team-mates victory was equally important. Courtney Walsh that day displayed that he was a man with a huge heart.
For someone, who had been part of the team for just around 3 years, had been responsible for bowling the last over that cost his team the previous WC game, and another loss could have meant an early exit. So as he ran in to bowl that last delivery and saw Jaffer backing up too far, he had many thoughts going through his mind and many choices to be made. He chose to rise above result of the game and tournament and put the integrity of the sport as his highest priority and acted accordingly. The scorecard may reflect Salim Yousuf as the Man-of-the match, many Pakistan cricket fans would applaud Quadir for his last over heroics, however, for the World of Cricket, the Real hero of the Sport that day was, a 25 year youngster named Courtney Andrew Walsh.
-Nikhil Sharad Jadhav