Pakistan vs India: 7 last-over thrillers that are hard to forget | Ashar Zaidi

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We have all heard about it, read it, seen it: a Pakistan-India cricket game; no other rivalry in sports could dare come close to it. In fact, it’s safe to say that the real thrill of cricket comes whenever these two giants lock horns.

The atmosphere, the stakes, the off-field political drama and the traditional bitterness between the two neighbors turn these games into much more than just a sporting contest. Revenues are in billions and television numbers create fresh records each time – the Champions Trophy match at Edgbaston this Sunday could easily shatter all previous records.

Pakistan vs India: There is just as much drama and excitement off the field as on the ground

It’s no wonder that fans demand nothing less than the absolute best from players, and they too in return usually don’t disappoint either. Some of the most thrilling and edge-of-the-seat finishes in limited-overs cricket have come in these games.

Here we look back at seven thrilling last-over finishes between the two titans that have lived in the minds of generations of fans. So before you stockpile your chips and pops for the Super Sunday, get ready to take the front seat rollercoaster ride down memory lane.

Ayub National Stadium Quetta, 1st October 1978

India won by 4 runs

Don’t blame the fans, it’s actually the players themselves who have spoiled us for the thrill. Forget the recent Amir-Kohli battle, the first ever ODI played by the two sides was as fiercely fought as one would witness today.

Cricketing ties between the two were restoring after 17 years and the first match in Quetta fueled the enthusiasm till its peak. Ayub National Stadium was packed to capacity.

Bishan Singh Bedi won the toss and elected to bat. India put up 170, thanks to a fine knock of 51 by Mohinder Amarnath while Sarfaraz Nawaz bagged three wickets.

Majid Khan

In reply, Majid Khan jotted a crafty 50 off 64 balls but as usual Pakistan’s middle order wobbled and left the job of finishing the game to Wasim Bari and Sarfaraz Nawaz – who fought hard but ran out of steam four runs short.

Austral-Asia Cup final, Sharjah, 18th April 1986

Pakistan won by 1 wicket

The mother of all thrillers, a one man’s self-belief, his determination and street fighting skills that scripted the most astounding and mind-boggling triumph the game has ever known. It would be impossible to find a cricket fan who has not heard about Miandad’s epic performance.

Chasing 264 to win, Pakistan needed 11 from the last over. With seven wickets down, all were convinced the game was over for Pakistan, expect for one, the maverick Miandad.

Doing the un-imaginable, Indian captain Kapil Dev tossed the ball to his junior most bowler Chetan Sharma – who had bowled reasonably well throughout the tournament. And bowled well he did, just till the last ball when all hell broke loose on him.

The final over was chaotic. Wasim Akram got run out on the first ball, Chetan then bowled Zulqarnain for a duck, Roger Binny pulled off a superb stop at short fine leg while Azharuddin missed the easiest of run outs.

یہ بھی پڑھئے:   دہشت گردی کے خلاف جنگ، چین کا پاکستان کی حمایت کا اعادہ

It all came down to the last ball, Pakistan needed four to win. The plan was to bowl a yorker but it turned out to be a waist-high full toss. Javed had a mighty swing and threw the ball and Indian hopes out of the Sharjah ground.

Javed Miandad and teammates celebrate after winning the Austral-Asia Cup final against India/ESPNcricinfo

With that legendry six, Javed installed self-belief in the Pakistanis while destroying the same in the Indians.

Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, Hyderabad, Deccan, 20th March 1987

India won after tied game

In a matched reduced to 44 overs, India were put into bat and made a modest 212 for six, thanks to a 122-run partnership between Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri.

Pakistan required two runs to win off the last ball but Abdul Qadir was run out attempting a second run. India (212-6) and Pakistan (212-7) finished at the same score, but the hosts were declared winners by virtue of losing fewer wickets.

Had Qadir settled for the single which leveled the scores, Pakistan would have won on the tie-breaker, having scored more runs after 25 overs.

National Stadium, Karachi, 30th September 1997

India won by 4 wickets

India were touring Pakistan after a gap of eight years and the hosts had pocketed the first match at Niaz Stadium Hyderabad. The team then headed to Karachi which was set for a fierce battle.

Pakistan’s batting was reduced to 47.2 overs due to crowd disturbance. Shahid Afridi scored a blistering 56-ball 72 while Inzamam was left strained at 72. Pakistan scored 265 and India were given 266 to chase from 47 overs.

Sourav Ganguly came out with a forceful reply of 89.

Sourav Ganguly in action, Karachi, 30th Sep 1997/AFP

Saqlain Mushtaq lost his magic when the worn out ball was replaced with a new one. Needing 8 off the last over, the little-heard Rajesh Chauhan hit Saqlain for a six off the very first ball and took the game away from Pakistan.

Silver Jubilee Independence Cup, 3rd Final: India v Pakistan at Dhaka, 18th Jan 1998

India won by 3 wickets

After Miandad’s heroics at Sharjah, this was one game that kept everyone on their toes till the very end. The best of three finals was leveled at one each before the conclusive game. Bad light reduced the game to 48 overs. Splendid centuries from Saeed Anwar (140) and Ijaz Ahmed (117) pushed Pakistan’s total to a mammoth 314.

Indian reply was well shouldered by a resolute response from Tendulkar (124) and Robin Singh (82). India required 9 off the last over and once again the task was burdened on Pakistan’s champion off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq.

Luck came to India’s rescue on the third delivery as Javagal Srinath lofted a high one to mid-on but escaped due to a mix-up in the field. With three required from two balls, Hrishikesh Kanitkar hit Saqlain for a boundary and handed India the Cup. This was the highest run chase at that time.

National Stadium Karachi, 13th March 2004

India won by 5 runs

یہ بھی پڑھئے:   گرمہر کور کی آزمائش-ڈاکٹر لال خان

Perhaps the most exciting and fiercely fought one-day game between the two hulks. India was on a full tour of Pakistan in 14 years and the first match was played at Karachi. Enthusiasm was at its peak as the 33,000 capacity stadium was packed till the last seat. The atmosphere – electrifying.

Put into bat India made 349 in 50 overs where the unfortunate Rahul Dravid was cleaned up on 99 by a beauty from Shoaib Akhtar. In return, Inzamam played one of his finest knocks, a 102-ball 122.

The epic encounter was to meet its epic conclusion in the final over. With 9 required, Ashish Nehra was tested for the finale who bowled the finest over of his career. The first five balls went for three and Pakistan needed six off the last ball.

Ashish Nehra embraced by teammates after India won at National Stadium, Karachi 2004

Moin Khan was on strike but more interestingly, the hero of Sharjah, Javed Miandad was in the dressing room as Pakistan’s coach. His tips and prayers did little to help Moin become the next hero who played a miscued shot and gave a match-winning catch to Zaheer Khan.

Shere Bangla Stadium Mirpur, Dhaka, Asia Cup 1st March 2014

Pakistan won by 1 wicket

From the destructive six at Sharjah to the confidence-shattering home run at Dhaka, it took 125 games and almost 28 years before a Pakistan-India match was won by just one wicket.

Afridi had been around for 17 years and had scripted countless memorable performances with endless records, but Mirpur added altogether a different chapter to the warrior’s illustrious career.

Shahid Afridi is mobbed by his teammates, India v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur, March 2, 2014/AFP

Needing 9 to win off the final over, Ashwin bowled smart to clean up Saeed Ajmal around his legs, the No. 11 Junaid Khan took a single on the next ball and gladly shifted the job to Afridi. Requiring 8 off four balls, Afridi smashed Ashwin over extra cover for a six.

Two off three balls, the ever flashy and pumped up Virat Kohli suddenly wore a dead man’s look while Afridi stood there casually talking to Junaid, as if it was business as usual. Always willing to do things his way, Afridi didn’t wait till the last ball like Miandad and wrapped the match with another astounding hit.

Indian fans were left shocked while Pakistanis all around the world went into frenzy. Afridi had done it again, it was his 50th six against India, and of course it had to be celebrated with his trademark aloft arms victory style.

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