The last-over classic that everyone remembers
At least 17 ODIs and four T20 internationals have been decided in the last over, but how many do we remember, really? Javed Miandad’s six, that was heard around the world, for sure.
In the 2007 World T20, the tie, followed by the shot that expedited the birth of the IPL, both gave a new format just the kickstart it needed.
Then there has been the India offspinner connection: Harbhajan Singh’s roar after hitting Mohammad Amir for a penultimate-ball six in 2010, Rajesh Chauhan’s swipe in Karachi in 1997, and R Ashwin falling prey to an almighty Shahid Afridi swing in 2014. These last-over finishes tend to favour the chasing sides in India-Pakistan clashes, but there have been famous defences too, no more so than Ashish Nehra succeeding with only eight runs to play with in 2004.
The forgotten last-over classic
These are some of the better matches, but largely not remembered as well because the stage was relatively smaller. Inzamam-ul-Haq brought on multiple heart attacks in Ahmedabad 2005 by chasing the three remaining runs in the last over, bowled by Sachin Tendulkar, thus: going dot, dot, two, dot, dot, four. And not just any four, one caressed all along the ground.
Tendulkar was involved, in Brisbane in 2000, again when he went looking for a run-out but conceded the overthrows that proved to be the difference in the last-ball win with a scampered bye. Surely MS Dhoni would have had one glove off for the last ball?
Hrishikesh Kanitkar’s dink in the 1998 Independence Cup puts a tick in India’s column in these forgotten last-over thrillers.
One of the real underrated last-over classics is from back in the day when chasing 300 was not as boring as it is now. Ten years ago, Younis Khan set it up with a hundred, but Afridi and Sohail Tanvir saw them through.
Sourav Ganguly and Aamer Sohail collide, Toronto, 1998 © Getty Images
In Toronto in 1996, with a twisted ankle and No. 10 for company, Saleem Malik chased down 44 off 44, ending it with a square-cut boundary off the second-last ball, bowled by – get it – Sunil Joshi, a left-arm spinner.
Malik also played one of the most astonishing ODI knocks, coming in with 78 needed at more than ten on over with mostly the tail for company, and scoring 72 off those in 36 balls, a good 30 years ago at Eden Gardens.
The other Malik who could have ended up among the greatest chasers in ODIs before he threw it all away, Shoaib, chose more violent methods, but ten in the last over of a T20I – in Bangalore in 2012 – didn’t really challenge him that much.
This is from those days when India-Pakistan matches at ICC events used to be competitive. India put up a spirited defence of 200 in the 2004 Champions Trophy match, but the artist formerly known as Yousuf Youhana kept his cool in the company of the tail to do it on the foot. Pakistan didn’t hit a single boundary in the last 31 balls of their chase.
Obscure last-over finishes
Did you know India and Pakistan once played a 16-over ODI with Pakistan scoring 87 for 9 and for some reason winning by seven runs? Yes, they did, with poor light in winter in Gujranwala, 1989, forcing the start beyond lunch and then India failing to bowl the allotted 20 overs in their allotted time of 85 minutes. Had they taken one more wicket, they would have got the whole 20 overs to chase in, and might have probably won.
India’s over rate also haunted them in a dead rubber in Toronto in 1997, resulting in two fewer overs for India to win in, but this was the Summer of Sourav, and Ganguly chased it down with the help of Ajay Jadeja.
Miandad loved hitting Indians for sixes, even when asking their spinners for their room numbers in the adjoining clubhouse so he could hit them there. He loved it so much that this feat is not even on our mental highlights reel: in a dead rubber in Jamshedpur in 1987, it came down to 12 required off the last over, and he ended it in the first two balls, according to Wisden.
The classic in dodgy conditions
The Gujranwala match mentioned above is one, but these mostly came in dying light in Sharjah where there were no floodlights, and variations of the refrain “in fading light, 12 from Waqar Younis’ last over was too stiff a target” – as in this match in 1991 – was heard often. But here, though, the absurdity had been taken to the extreme. Despite a delayed start because of overnight rain, no overs were reduced. Then, India were chasing with streetlights on when light was offered, but nobody – including India captain Mohammad Azharuddin and organiser Asif Iqbal – knew what rain rule was to be used and whether India would be ahead of the target if they did come back. Turned out, under one rule they would have won; under another they wouldn’t have. So they batted on, lost wickets and then Waqar proved too much to handle.
Elsewhere, in that Ganguly-Jadeja chase in Toronto, according to Wisden, “Pakistan seemed overcome by both tension and the cold: the temperature had dropped to 12 degrees Centigrade. Moin Khan missed a stumping off Jadeja, Mohammad Akram converted a catch off Ganguly into a six by stepping over the boundary, and three run-out chances were muffed.”
Many believed that the match that Chauhan won for India would have been Pakistan’s had the crowd not thrown stones at Indian fielders for the fourth time, which is when play was stopped and Inzamam – 74 off 92 then – was denied the finishing kick he looked set for. Pakistan batted only 47.2 overs, and there was no target correction; except that India were asked to chase 266 in two balls fewer.
Indian crowds didn’t paint themselves in glory, but in limited-overs matches, the Pakistan crowds have provided more material. On a damp Karachi pitch in 1989, in a match reduced to 40 overs, with Manoj Prabhakar running riot with the ball, the stage was getting set for a proper chase against Wasim Akram, Waqar, Aaqib Javed, Imran Khan, but the crowd trouble meant only 14.3 overs were possible. Tear gas had to be used inside the stadium, and gun shots were heard from the outside.
Between World Series Cricket and the many T20 leagues, there was Sharjah, home of lucrative cricket. Pakistan obviously dominated the terrain, with India being the most commercially viable opponent. Apart from the Miandad classics, apart from the dodgy classics, it produced many memorable India-Pakistan clashes. Not least of which is India’s successful defence of just 125 runs in 1985. They would have fancied themselves a year later, this time in defence of 144, but Manzoor Elahi took Pakistan home from 65 for 6. As might seem, India tended to run Pakistan close in Sharjah only in low-scoring matches, but when they finally did manage their first ODI 300, in 1996, they did get into a close fight as Pakistan kept coming at them. They were 172 for 2 in 25 overs thanks to a pinch-hitting fifty from Rashid Latif, but then, as a runner, he ran Aamer Sohail out, and the collapse began.
A pinch hitter was successful, and opener Shoaib Mohammad was run out with Pakistan 105 adrift in 1989, but there was no meltdown then. Forty required off the last six overs was not a match sealed back then, but Pakistan did so with eight balls to spare.
This might be worth a book in in itself. Sixteen matches, seven to India, eight to Pakistan, one no-result. Ganguly wreaked general havoc. As a bowler. Malik chased chases. Meltdowns happened, not just on the field, when Pakistan missed five chances ostensibly because of the cold, but just off the field too.
Classics when no one knew the playing conditions
Add to the Sharjah twilight the only tied ODI between India and Pakistan. With the scores level with a single to get off the last ball, Abdul Qadir did as you would expect: try and steal the extra run no matter how impossible it seems. Except this was a special case.
In the process, Qadir got himself run out, and from just outside the playing field, Miandad began to swear at him. That is because this was a rare series with no tied matches. The tie breaker was number of wickets lost first, and then the score at 25 overs. Had Qadir kept his wits, Pakistan would have ended up with scores level and with same number of wickets lost, but with a higher score at the end of 25 overs. Now instead, they lost because India had lost fewer wickets.
Miandad’s anger was directed not just at Qadir but also the umpires, who had missed that India had only three fielders inside the 30-yard ring for that last ball.
Non-last-over classic that everyone remembers
World Cup 1992; World Cup 1996; World Cup 1999; World Cup 2003; World Cup 2007; World Cup 2011
Oh, Bangladesh and Ireland turned up for that 2007 match? Poor babies, India and Pakistan. It’s okay, the ICC has now changed tournament structures to make sure they never get knocked out early. They have also fixed draws to make sure they meet each other at every world event. Except that can’t prevent what makes our next section.
World T20 2012; Champions Trophy 2013; World T20 2014; World Cup 2015; World T20 2016; Champions Trophy group match 2017.
Forgotten non-last-over classic
The best kinds. Like at Champions Trophy in 2009: high-voltage match with ebbs and flows, a quick Pakistan start with consolidation and slowing down in the middle, then a late kick, followed by a fiery India start, a collapse brought about by a run-out, a strong final push by Rahul Dravid, but ultimately a win for Pakistan.
This is from the top of the head. There are many more such classics that didn’t go to the last over, that didn’t feature skirmishes, that need some searching in memory banks. Tell us about those in the comments section.