When you think thrill you and a cricket match,you invariably come up with a few names like Ashes, Border Gavaskar Trophy ,Sharjah and some world cup matches.
If you zero down further to nail biter and last ball finishes then Ind vs Pak will not be a hard name to find.I think it all began with the Benson and hedges world series.I am sure there must be many more close encounters prior to this as well.
However,lets talk about key matches after that period. First thing that comes to mind is Sharjah and Chetan Sharma last ball six.Javed Miandad wrote his name on the history books of the hall of fame book.Even though Chetan Sharma went to take a hatrick later in life,the last ball tag will stick to him till his last ball.
It is important to note we were the nice boys of cricket at the time.So when Sachin,Azhar and I think Manjrekar were given out to Aquib Javed’s high and wide deliveries, the nations went into a frenzy one over a hattrick and the other on lamenting at poor umpiring.
But life continued and we ha more such matches in store.Then slowly came an era when the better team won.Pakistan were always better on the field than on paper and exactly the opposite for India. one way or the other, one of the teams would always get exposed.Hence the matches were always close no matter what the team composition.
Salim Malik saving Eden Gardens test match was a tough one to swallow.Imran bowling Srikant after he got hit for a 6 and a 4 off consecutive deliveries got us a lump in the throat.
Waqar and Wasim going hammer and tongs at a small 16 year old kid brought a nation together.Drops of blood on the white shirt brought the nation to a halt.
Miandad’s antics with Kiran More got the whole town talking and when he dropped a catch on the thirdman boundary the whole nation slept peacefully that night;while the neutral cricket lover saw the end of a great cricketer.
Then came the Azza times.Asia cup match chased down some 300+ score and we all celebrated right through the night – but nothing beat the excitement of seeing Aamir Sohails wicket tumble.Chetan Sharma was forgotten that day.IT was pakistans turn to remember Venkatesh Prasad.
Dont forget Jadeja’s hammering of Waqar. Brought tears of joy.When Anwar scored 190 – some secretly wanted him to get to 200 and then get out. Such was the respect for the man.likewise somewhere the average Pakistani started liking Sachin.They really tried to bill Inzi against him – but their classes are different. Inzi has his own but Sachin is in some sense class-less. He is divine.
There isnt a class that can define him or bracket him. Shoaib Akhtar bowling Sachin and Dravid was a sinking feeling.But the upper cut off akhtar in the world cup must ve been one of the best in class.
Sahara Cup gets notable mention, simply because we won 4 matches in a row.But I do not recall any major clash per se.Since the exit of players like Miandad,Malik,Aamer Sohail, and some of the other aggressive Pakistani blokes, the clashes have never really build up to a frenzy. I am not trying to say that is good or bad – just that it has not happened.
Even the Gambhir/Afridi clash was rather subdued after the match. Although with Australia we have had clashes build since 2001.before that they would just come hammer us and go away – guess post that 2001 series, they ve taken us a bit more seriously. But that is a story for another time – right now it s just India and Pak.
Today’s match will be yet another “one off” occasion where the twain meet. Pakistan cricket of late has neither had the opportunity to play tough oppositions nor have they produced awesome cricket.What remains with Pakistan and has always remained is the “jasba” the’ jigar” the will to go beyond – something I ve admired a long time.
As they say – size of the dog in a battle does not matter – it is the size of the fight in the dog that matters. The killer instinct which took India to the top of world cricket when they were the underdogs is the same predicament that Pakistan faces today.
I think Pakistan is in a regrouping stage, where internal differences will be parked, at least for the day and they will put up a good show.On the other hand,Indians should not get over confident or lackadaisical in their performance.
Not just as an Indian, but as a neutral sports lover, I would like to see todays match go down to the wire.Some thrilling moments and some chilling scenarios. Let the decision come only in the final ball of the innings and stop the heartbeat of almost 1 billion people – even if it just for a second.
Above all – let the best team win.
Let the romance and nostalgia of a great sporting encounter be etched in our memories forever.