The Last Over Scenarios That Changed India vs. Pakistan Forever! Part 2

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Welcome back to part 2 of the last over scenarios that changed India vs. Pakistan. As I mentioned earlier, the inspiration for both posts came from a colleague I work with at Cricket Huddle. I wanted to compare two amazing India-Pakistan matches and see how each game was different from the other. In Part 1, we explored what went on in these games with an in-depth analysis. Now, we will take a look at the similarities and differences between the two. We will also be analyzing a key conversation between the guys who won India the game both times, Ravichandran Ashwin in 2022 and Hrishikesh Kanitkar in 1998. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Photo Cred: Shuttershock

1998 vs. 2022- Similar Yet Different

The Background

While examining the scorecards, there are some key similarities and differences that can be noticed. In 1998, Pakistan had an imposing total of 314/5 set for India to chase. Two overs were also taken away from the game at that. There is a clear difference in 2022, in that all 20 overs were available for both teams and 160 was still a chasable target. It’s not as imposing as 314 in a 50-over game at a time when big chases really weren’t a thing, especially for India.

Photo Cred: YouTube- Cricket Clock

They had failed to chase 302 a few months ago in August 1997 against Sri Lanka. Eight-runs-an-over is still quite a number of runs to be scored for sure, but this is the age of chasing and more teams are used to downing scores between 8-9 runs per over. This was the highest successful run-chase in ODIs for quite some time, especially more so for India.

Let’s Take a Look at the Batting

Both times, India won the toss and chose to field first. Pakistan’s 1998 openers (Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi) would have a better opening partnership than their 2022 counterparts (Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam). Anwar would even go on to have a significant contribution in the game, something neither Rizwan nor Azam can say.

Photo Cred: The Express Tribune

The no. 4 batters in both games did have a significant score for the team: Ijaz Ahmed’s 117 and Iftikhar Ahmed’s 51. Anwar and Ijaz held the record for the highest third-wicket partnership of 230 runs. In 1998, Pakistan got all their runs from their top six batters, while the 2022 team needed a few lower-order cameos. The Men in Green didn’t also necessarily have a collapse of sorts in 1998.

Bowlers, Runs, and Captains

In terms of Indian bowling, a Punjabi was the highest wicket-taker in both games (Harvinder Singh and Arshdeep Singh). They took three wickets as well! Both bowlers also had the worst economy rate (with more than one over bowled) in the games. The Indian bowlers were also disciplined, only conceding 13 and 12 extras respectively. India had great top-order security in 1998, with 247 runs coming from the first three batters. That was 78.2% of the final score.

Photo Cred: ESPNcricinfo

Meanwhile, the 2022 top-three hit 90 out of 160 of the team’s runs (56.3%). What a coincidence it is to see both no. 3 batters hit an 82! Robin Singh had his in 83 balls, while Virat Kohli was able to do it in 30 balls less. Both captains struggled to get going and got out on four: Mohammad Azharuddin (11-ball 4) and Rohit Sharma (7-ball 4).

Collapse, Extras, and Set Batters

India did experience a collapse or a period where they were going nowhere both times. The only difference is that they occurred at separate points of the game. In 1998, India was cruising until the 39th over and then they started losing wickets. In 2022, India lost wickets early and had to try to rebuild a partnership as early as the seventh over. The 1998 Indian team didn’t lose any wickets in the final over of the game, but they did lose a set batter in Nayan Mongia the over before. In 2022, India lost two wickets but still prevailed in the end.

Photo Cred: NDTV Sports

The 2022 Pakistani bowlers were very disciplined, giving up only seven extra runs until Nawaz’s last over. That last over brought the total up to 11 extras, as a no-ball and two wides were bowled to go along with three byes being taken. The 1998 Pakistan team gave up 27 extras to the Indians. The 1998 game was a more nervy and tense time for the Indians, as they didn’t really have set batters at the crease, even though they were only chasing nine off the last over. At least in 2022, India had a set Hardik Pandya and Kohli, even if they were chasing 16.

The Ones Who Won the Game

Ravichandran Ashwin and Hrishikesh Kanitkar, the players who hit the game-winning shots, are more bowlers who can bat rather than genuine all-rounders. Ashwin, however, has a really good batting average (26.28) and strike rate (114.99) in T20Is, all things considered. Ashwin, Kanitkar, and Javagal Srinath were all batting at crucial points of the game, as there was not really much batting behind them should they have gotten out. Of course, Ashwin had even more pressure on him, as he was set to face the last ball of the entire game. Compare that to Kanitkar, who had already been there for 10 balls, and faced two more while Srinath faced three balls.

Photo Cred: ScoopWhoop

Pakistani Spinners and the Last of the Comparisons

Pakistan used spin quite effectively in both games, picking up five wickets in 1998 and two in 2022. With the exception of Afridi (1/56 in 6.4 overs) and Nawaz’s 16-ball last over, all Pakistani spinners involved were economical. Only the 2022 Pakistan team didn’t use more than six bowling options. Both the 2022 teams and the 1998 Pakistan team used either legit bowlers or all-rounders, while the 1998 India squad made use of part-timers like Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar.

Photo Cred: T20 World Cup

Just like in 2022, a Pakistani spinner led/tied for the lead in the wickets column (Saqlain Mushtaq and Mohammad Nawaz). The most economical Pakistani bowlers were also spinners both times (Mohammad Hussain and Shadab Khan). Both Player-of-the-Matches were the leading scorers on the winning India team: Sourav Ganguly for his 124(138) and Virat Kohli for his 82(53) n.o. No debuts were made in 2022, while Rahul Sanghvi was playing his first game for India back in 1998. Lastly, a South African was used as an umpire in both games: Rudi Koertzen and Marais Erasmus.

The Heroes Speak- Kanitkar and Ashwin

Introduction

To listen to the conversation, take a look at this link, which was provided to me by my colleague. I think it’s interesting to hear that Kanitkar thought the 2022 game was more exciting, as he was there at the crease hitting the winning runs for his game. Not that he’s wrong, as the 2022 game was indeed exciting and had some more moving pieces that the 1998 team did not have to experience.

Photo Cred: BCCI.tv

Kanitkar is definitely right in that new batters coming to the crease don’t have time to take a hold of the situation. They just have to go and get the job done. Hearing Ashwin say that, during the last over, the 1998 batters had to play in fading light makes my respect go up even higher for what Kanitkar and Srinath had to face. The game was already reduced to 48-overs-a-side due to bad light, and it was just getting progressively worse.

My Own Opinions

Tons of respect for that 1998 squad, though. Ashwin is right, 315-run chases were not heard of. Those were the days when a high first-innings total almost always meant the team batting first would win. You know, as I was hearing Ashwin describe his skill with the bat, I used to think of him as a legitimate all-rounder option for India at least like 5-6 years ago.

Photo Cred: CricketAddictor

I used to think that, even with him at the crease, we would be able to knock in a last couple of runs to pad the total or effectively chase down whatever total was needed. Not sure when, how, or why those skills declined, but I feel like that lack of batting help is what took him out of the white-ball side and sent him into the wilderness up until 2021.

The Expert’s Quotes

Anyways, back to the interview. Ashwin does give some valuable batting advice that I think anyone can follow. “I want to stay really blank, just back myself… You can’t have 50-50 choice, right? If it’s in my zone, I wanted to go, you know, clean and probably hit in the gap.” Just stay focused on the moment, clear out any other thoughts, and back yourself and your own abilities no matter the situation.

Photo Cred: Times of India

Kanitkar added “So, as I say, it all comes down to your practice, how you practice, right? What goes on in your mind in the practice. Because, in such moments, that’s what I realize in that match. I realized, after the game was over, and what I realized was instinctively you just go back to what you know. To the basic facts of what you know. The mind just simplifies it if you’ve done it enough times in your head.”

Some More of My Opinions

Kanitkar kept his mind blank, just like Ashwin, and didn’t allow thoughts of which areas to hit Mushtaq to meddle with his mind. Ashwin said that, had he not gotten that wide on what was supposed to be the last ball, it would have meant he would basically retire…! Wow, can’t imagine that outcome, that’d be a harsh way to go end a career… As I mentioned in Part 1, Ashwin technically hit a four to end the game but only one was officially recorded. If we just look at the technicality, then both game-winning shots were boundaries, what a coincidence!

Photo Cred: InsideSport.IN

Conclusion

Kanitkar also made a good point that it would be unnerving for a bowler to see a batter prepared for him, in reference to that wide that Ashwin let go of. It was a tense situation and Kanitkar is right in that most batters would try to chase after that quick ball down the leg side. Ashwin just stood there calm and collected, letting it pass by and making the revised target one off one.

Photo Cred: Twitter

To end the interview, Ashwin made a sad but true point that none of Ganguly’s, Tendulkar’s, or Kohli’s performances would be remembered had it not been for these two game-winning shots by the subjects of the interview. Such is the short-term memory of the fans, always focused on the now instead of what happened to get to the now. If you can’t execute, it’s like they forget everything else that happened. Instead, the time would be spent criticizing the failure of the execution and none of what it took to get there would be remembered…

Photo Cred: MSN

To relive those historic moments, here is a video of Kanitkar hitting the game-winning four to end the game (also provided by my colleague), and here is a tweet with a video of Ashwin hitting the game-winning one/four in 2022.

Closing Notes

Thanks for reading and sticking around for both parts! Leave a comment on what your thoughts were and please do enjoy! You can also follow Cricket Huddle on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn @crickethuddle if you are interested!

Photo Cred: YouTube- Cricket Huddle

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