What a game we saw on October 23rd last year! Just another amazing edition of the India-Pakistan matchups. It wouldn’t be an overreaction to put this game among other top-10 moments between the two teams! Inspired by a prompt from a colleague at Cricket Huddle, I also want to go back 24 years. We need to remember another game that came down to the last over between these two cricketing giants. Back on January 18th, 1998, there was an ODI game, specifically the third final of the 1997/98 Silver Jubilee Independence Cup. Both these games ended with India edging out Pakistan. It’s time to take a closer look at these two matches.
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10/23/22- India wins by four wickets (0 balls left)
Pakistan: 159/8 (20)
Arshdeep, the Young Warrior
Starting with the game of recent memory, we have the first match for Group 2 in the recently-concluded ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. India would win the toss and choose to bowl. Bhuvneshwar Kumar would come one wide away from a maiden over to open the game. Young Arshdeep Singh, in his WC debut, would then hit the paydirt by getting captain Babar Azam out lbw on the first ball of his over! Pakistan looked very nervy early on, with Virat Kohli missing a potential runout chance when the batter was nowhere in the picture. Bhuvneshwar kept the Pakistani batters under pressure, and Arshdeep would reap the rewards of his hard work again! After causing a chipped-up ball to fall just short of Kohli, Arshdeep would get wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan out in the deep at fine leg. Pakistan now lost both openers all in a matter of four overs, with the score at 15/2.
Photo Cred: NDTV Sports
Ifthikar Has a Go
Pakistan would then find some stability in the form of Shan Masood and Iftikhar Ahmed. That stability almost didn’t continue, had Ravichandran Ashwin made a catch at fine leg to remove Masood. Iftikhar would target spinners Ashwin and Axar Patel to go from a run-a-ball 21 to a 32-ball 51. However, once pace was reintroduced, Mohammed Shami got him out on the second ball of his over. Iftikhar would have a 34-ball 51. Shadab Khan would get a promotion but not contribute much, with a 6-ball 5 and Hardik Pandya getting the wicket. Pandya’s over, his second, was a crucial one for the Indians, as he would strike again with the wicket of Haider Ali on 2(4).
Photo Cred: ICC Cricket
Now, It’s Shan Masood’s Turn
Ashwin would have another chance to get Masood out on a ball hit straight back at him, but he could not hold on for the caught-and-bowled. Pakistan was at 106/5 at the end of the 15th over now. Pandya would get hit for two fours against Mohammad Nawaz but would get him to glove a ball to the keeper, Dinesh Karthik, on a short ball with extra bounce. Nawaz ended his night with a 6-ball 9. Arshdeep would then get the only remaining Pakistani batter to come in, Asif Ali, for a 3-ball 2. With just bowlers left to occupy the crease, Masood needed to get a move on, so he targeted Shami for two fours. With that, he would go to 49(39).
Photo Cred: NDTV Sports
The End of the Pakistani Innings
Now, Pakistan was at 135/7 with two overs left. Arshdeep, who had been phenomenal the rest of the day, would get hit for a six and a four by none other than Shaheen Shah Afridi. Masood would also complete his 50 in that over. Pakistan was now at 149/7 with the end of the 19th over. Bhuvneshwar would start the last over with a wide and a single but then get Shaheen out caught-and-bowled for 16(8). Haris Rauf would hit a six off him in the first ball but then would swing and miss the next two balls. On the last ball, Rauf and Masood would steal two byes after Karthik missed the stumps. Bhuvneshwar, also going for the runout, would make an errant throw. This would result in an overthrow and allow the second run to be scored.
Photo Cred: ICC Cricket
India: 160/6 (20)
India’s Early Struggles
Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul saw Shaheen off in the first over, scoring five runs between them. Naseem Shah would trouble Rahul first ball with an lbw appeal and then bowl him four balls later. Rahul was out for 4 off 8 balls. After another quiet Shaheen over (only three runs scored), Rauf would remove India’s other opener and captain, Sharma (7-ball 4), with help from Iftikhar at slip. India was now reeling at 10/2 at 3.2 overs. Suryakumar Yadav and Virat Kohli could not stabilize things for long, as Yadav would depart on 15(10) by gloving a Rauf ball to Rizwan. Axar Patel would get a promotion for the left-hand-right-hand combination but it did not pay off, as he would get run out on 2(3). At the end of the seventh over, it was now 33/4 for India, with Kohli and Pandya at the crease.
Photo Cred: Sporting News
Kohli and Pandya Are There, but Is This Still Possible?
At this point, Pakistan was favored 88.62% by Cricinfo to win the game. Three overs would pass by, with India only getting to 45/4 with half of the game over. 24 balls after their last boundary, Pandya would hit Shadab for a four in the first over after the drinks break. Both Kohli and Pandya would get their blitzkrieg underway by hitting Nawaz for three combined sixes the next over. Shaheen and Shadab would give up a four each but only give up 16 runs in the two overs between them. Needing 70 off the last six overs, India was at 90/4 with Kohli at 34(33) and Pandya at 30(23). While building this slow-but-steady partnership, Kohli and Pandya would pick and choose when to hit their boundaries, focusing on singles and twos with quick running. Naseem and Rauf would also concede 16 runs between them, with Naseem giving up only one boundary. Naseem would end his four-over spell with a six-run final over. India now needed 48 runs off 18 balls.
Photo Cred: DNA India
Arise, King Kohli!
Now, in the 18th over, there was a key matchup: Shaheen vs. Kohli. Kohli was up to the task, facing seven deliveries (one was a wide) and hitting him for three fours in the over. After that 17-run over, King Kohli reigned once again by getting two sixes to end Rauf’s over. Rauf had done well with his first four balls, only limiting India to three runs. However, Kohli was too much to overcome! With that 15-run over, the Men in Green were set to defend 16 off the last over. However, they were sending Nawaz out, so the risk of this game going wrong was there. Nawaz would strike first, removing Pandya on 40(37). Karthik would turn the strike back to Kohli with a single, and Kohli would hit a 2 in the third ball of the over.
Photo Cred: Wisden
Expect the Unexpected!
And that’s when chaos would ensue… Kohli hit a full-toss for six, and it would count as a waist-high no-ball by the umpires! Nawaz, feeling the pressure, would bowl a wide on the free-hit but then bowl Kohli out the next ball. The problem is that it was still a free-hit ball, so Kohli and Karthik would steal three byes off that delivery. With India needing two runs to win off two balls, Karthik would get stumped by Rizwan and depart with a 2-ball 1. Ashwin would watch what was supposed to be the last ball of the over go down the leg side for a wide, thus making it one run to win off one ball. He would be able to get the ball over the infield and score the winning runs for India.
Photo Cred: NDTV Sports
Officially listed as a one, it actually did go all the way for a four. As Kohli and Ashwin had completed the single before the ball touched the ropes, only one run was counted. Since that was the target needed to complete and win the match, that’s what was recorded. What a terrific match and awesome finish! Kohli ended his day with 82(53), the savior of the day for the Men in Blue.
Photo Cred: Fox Sports
1/18/1998- India wins by three wickets (one ball left)
Pakistan: 314/5 (48)
The Calm Before the Storm
Shahid Afridi would come out to open with Saeed Anwar, just as they had done for the last four matches. This game would be a 48-over-a-side matchup due to bad light. India had won the first final and Pakistan took the second one, so it was up to this game to determine the winner of the Silver Jubilee Independence Cup. Afridi would leave early into the proceedings, getting caught by Robin Singh facing Harvinder Singh. He had a six and a four in his 20-ball 18, leaving Pakistan at 30/1 in 5.4 overs. Aamer Sohail would be the next to depart in the last ball of the 11th over, hitting one four during his 17-ball 14. Harvinder was the wicket-taker again, with a catch taken by wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia.
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Ijaz and Anwar Lead the Way
Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed would then control this game with a 230-run partnership that lasted until the 46th over. Four balls into that over, India would strike again, as Harvinder picked up his third wicket of the day with the help of his captain, Mohammad Azharuddin. Anwar was the first to be dismissed in that partnership, departing for a 132-ball 140. During his time at the crease, he hit 14 fours and two sixes. Exactly six balls and six runs later, Ijaz would be out on 117(112) caught by Navjot Singh Sidhu with Javagal Srinath bowling. He contributed eight fours to go along with a solitary six. With just eight more balls left in the game, Pakistan was at 302/4 in 46.4 overs. Azhar Mahmood would face six of those last deliveries, scoring 10(6) before falling to Sachin Tendulkar by way of Azharuddin (via catch) in the last ball of the final over. Mahmood would hit a four in those six balls as well. Mohammad Hussain would be not out for 2(2).
Photo Cred: YouTube- CricketCrazy1x
India: 316/7 (47.5)
India’s Not Breaking a Sweat
India’s chase was led by Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. Both openers seemed to make major headway early and were pacing themselves right. Even when Tendulkar was dismissed in 8.2 overs, India was at 71/1, meaning their run rate was 8.52 when they only needed 6.20. Tendulkar had a 26-ball 41 with seven fours and a six, and he was caught by Mahmood off Afridi’s bowling. That steady pace only continued with the arrival of Robin Singh, who paired with Ganguly to have a 179-run partnership. With the end almost in sight, Robin would part ways with an 83-ball 82, where he hit four fours and two sixes. Hussain was the bowler and Aaqib Javed caught the ball. India was at 250/2 in 38.1 overs, needing 65 runs off 9.5 overs (59 balls).
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Umm… Do We Panic Now?
Now, this is where India started to lose their heads a bit… After being in cruise control for so long with two immense partnerships, India started losing wickets one by one. Captain Azharuddin would last the second-longest at the crease among the remaining players, yet he would contribute the least amount of runs. Sohail would catch him off Saqlain Mushtaq’s bowling on a slow 4(11). Ok, no problem, Ganguly is still at the crease, right? Well, Javed would bowl him on 124(138), thus eliminating all set batters for the Men in Blue. He hit 11 fours and a six during his time at the crease. A little panic was starting to set in now, as the score was 274/4 in 42.4 overs. Still shouldn’t be too bad, as Ajay Jadeja and Sidhu were still great ODI batters.
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Cutting It Way Too Close
Unfortunately for India, Sidhu would depart four balls later and Jadeja would follow him after 2.2 overs. Both players did somewhat contribute in the runs column, scoring at almost a quick pace, but neither could stay long enough to see India through. Sidhu had a 4-ball 5 (one four) and Jadeja had a 9-ball 8 (one four). Mushtaq was the chief destructor, bowling Sidhu and getting an lbw appeal go his way against Jadeja. Now, it’s just Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Mongia left as players who were still decent with the bat, although Srinath could tonk the ball every now and then. India was at 296/6 in 45.4 overs, so the target was now 19 runs in 2.2 overs (14 balls). The duo did their best to keep the Men in Green at bay, but Kanitkar was playing a bit slower to allow Mongia to be the aggressor.
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What an Ending!
With nine runs to win off seven balls, Mongia would be run out while trying to steal a bye when Kanitkar was on strike. Wicketkeeper-captain Rashid Latif would effect the runout. Now, nine runs were needed off the last over, with Kanitkar batting first. With Mushtaq bowling, the first ball would go for a single, putting Srinath on strike. Srinath was trying to heave the ball at his first two opportunities, both going for two runs each. He was trying to go down the ground both times, edging the ball to his left the first time and skying a ball around the infield the second time. The ball was in the air for a while and Srinath was lucky it fell in no man’s land, despite three fielders converging around the area.
Photo Cred: Beamer
Due to his heroics, India needed four off three now, and he edged the ball for a single in the fourth ball of the over. Despite shaping up for another heave at the ball, he would edge it late and the fielder would target running him out at the bowler’s end. Srinath would make his ground, leaving Kanitkar on strike. He would win the game the next ball with a four, thus ending this maddening journey of a game! Kanitkar would end up with 11(12) not out and Srinath would have 5(3) n.o.
Photo Cred: ESPNcricinfo
Thanks for reading! To watch the last nine balls of the latter game, click this link. Watch out for part 2 of this discussion, a comparison and contrast of the matches. It will include taking a look at a very important conversation between the two players who hit the game-winning runs, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Ravichandran Ashwin. Leave a comment on what your thoughts were and, as always, enjoy! You can also follow Cricket Huddle on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn @crickethuddle if you are interested!
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