Till the eventful day of April 18, 1986, it was India who had a slender advantage over Pakistan in One-Day Internationals (ODIs), having won 8 out of the 16 matches. Since then, Pakistan have completely dominated India in the 50-over format, having won 65 of the 115 games they have come up against each other, while India have managed just 47. What started this tilt? It was that one moment when Javed Miandad smashed Chetan Sharma over the mid-wicket fence in the Austral-Asia Cup final in Sharjah on this day 36 years ago.
In fact, it left such a scar on India that they managed to win just two out of the next 15 matches against Pakistan. While the tables have somewhat turned towards India in the last decade or so – where the two nations face-off either in Asia Cups or ICC events, there is little doubt that no other fixture draws so much excitement and emotions in international cricket than an India-Pakistan encounter.
India had beaten New Zealand and Sri Lanka to make it to the final, while Pakistan had beaten New Zealand and Australia to set up a tie with India in the finale. Pakistan had lost just two wickets in the entire tournament, to further add to their credentials, the bowlers – led by Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Abdul Qadir - were on fire as they had bundled New Zealand out for just 64 in the previous match.
India on the other hand made a bigger meal of both their previous matches, winning both by just three wickets when it should have been won more comfortably. However, in short, knockout competitions like these, it is the win that matters and not how or by what margin it is achieved.
Pakistan won the toss and elected to field and India made the most of it as their openers Kris Srikkanth (75) and Sunil Gavaskar (92), put on 117 for the opening wicket. No. 3 batsman Dilip Vengsarkar too scored a fifty and more importantly put on 99 for the second wicket with Gavaskar. India were in pole position to go well past 250 but a flurry of wickets in the end restricted them to 245 for 7 – A fighting total in those days.
Pakistan in their chase lost the top three with just 61 runs on the board and the India vs Pakistan tie soon became India vs Miandad. Miandad held one end up and kept the scoreboard ticking. He got good support from Qadir, who relieved some pressure off him with a quick-fire 39-ball 34.
As many as 31 runs were needed of the final three overs with three wickets in hand. They managed 20 in the 48th and 49th over combined and needed a further 11 runs more to win. Only Miandad was standing in India’s way. Once Akram was run-out in the first delivery of the final over in a bid to keep Miandad on strike, Pakistan needed 10 off 5, while India needing just two more wickets.
Miandad then hit the four and then the next delivery Roger Binny did brilliantly to stop another boundary at short fine-leg, to bring the No. 10 batsman Zulqarnain on strike. Instead handing over the strike to Miandad, who was batting on over 100 to his name, the wicketkeeper was bowled looking for a big hit.
Miandad had a long chat with the final man Tauseef Ahmed. It was a fullish delivery from Chetan and Tauseef just about managed to get bat on it. The ball went to Mohammad Azharuddin who took an underarm aim at the stumps and missed by inches. Tauseef reacted late to Miandad’s call and would have been run-out by miles if that had hit.
Miandad got the strike and the equation eventually came down to four from the final delivery. Miandad took his time before he took strike. He even counted the fielders present on the ground just to confirm that India had not smuggled a fielder in. Chetan looking to hit the perfect yorker bowled a juicy full-toss and Miandad who was batting on 110 off 113, did not need a second invitation to dismiss the ball over the mid-wicket boundary and the wild celebrations began.
Video Courtesy: Kharal Tv
The entire crowd at Sharjah certainly got their monies worth. Very rarely do you see an ODI end with the batting team needing a boundary from the final ball of the match with one wicket remaining and even rarer to see that team achieving it in the end. It has been over three decades, but the image of Miandad dismissing Chetan is perhaps one of the best moments, not just in India-Pakistan encounters but overall in ODIs.