Guest Section – Revisiting Pakistan’s Champions Trophy campaign

  Before the commencement of the long-awaited ICC Champions Trophy, Pakistan was a team struggling for direction, representing a nation fighting for identity. The country has long been at the mercy of erratic politics and incessant terrorism that has left its sporting venues deserted and neglected for a major part of the last decade.

  Inner turbulence has been imitated in the way the national team has played its cricket. It is hard to build structures and promote stability when neither exists in the society. It is a challenge to make and execute plans when the nation has stooped to the lowest levels of confidence. At this point, everything is transitory and vague.

  Entering this exceptionally competitive tournament, Pakistan were the nethermost team; the rank-outsiders among the giants of modern cricket. Underdogs, to be precise. A flattering ranking, a newbie skipper, injury concerns to major stars returning to the squad and depleting resources suggested anything beyond a group-stage exit was highly improbable, if not out of question.

  The harrowing defeat first up against India in front of a jam-packed Edgbaston house took that out of proportion as well. The script was being followed to the T as far as Pakistan’s campaign was concerned. It was so traumatic that it triggered a couple of abrupt changes: Junaid Khan replacing a diminishing Wahab Riaz and Fakhar Zaman, a debutant, succeeding an out-of-touch Ahmed Shehzad.

  When things slide downhill briskly, writing Pakistan off is the easiest option. However, that comes up with its own perils as three cricketing titans, South Africa, England and India, found out later. The blunt, dicey changes proved a blessing in disguise, straightaway. The drubbing received in the initial game served as a motivating burst for this team, full of young and lively blood.

  The rejuvenated pace attack set about for newer adventures, showcasing composure and spitting fire as it came to terms with some of the best batting suits in world cricket. In a rain-affected match, Pakistan comprehensively clobbered South Africa – the No.1 ODI team at that fleck of history – and the western part of the subcontinent began finding its long-lost voice.

     Underrated Pakistan not just entered their first Champions Trophy final, but also subdued holders India to cap a memorable campaign (source – gettyimages/hindustantimes.com) 

  Gradually the notes improved, the tunes enhanced and the verses concluded. From these came determination, and from that, came expression. The world was too focused on the megastars, not realizing that the boys in green had begun scribbling a narrative of their own. Four days later, Pakistan brushed past Sri Lanka in what was to be an agonizingly close potential quarter-final.

  The warning bell had sounded. The predictably unpredictable greenshirts had emerged out of thin air. The bruised tiger was finally cornered and ready to assault. Extraordinarily and unbelievably, Pakistan marched into the semis, leaving the cricketing world bewildered.

  A fiery opener in Zaman was discovered, whose flamboyance and hit-everything approach peeled off the early shakiness and perfectly complemented Azhar Ali’s solidity. In Hasan Ali, they found a warrior who defied all odds and plucked out crucial wickets when they were needed the most.

  A fine leader, in the shape of Sarfraz Ahmed, materialized out of the pandemonium, marshalling his troops and conducting his orchestra with mastered skill as the flames erupted behind the old pavilion. The dignity of the remainders brought hope and the gallantry of the incoming promise. The overwhelming momentum and victory-seeking lust blew away the English as well.

  England, who happened to be joint favorites, were trounced at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff and ousted from their own backyard. It was as immaculate and flawless a performance as cricket has ever witnessed. It was the other way around: unpredictably predictable. Pakistan breathed fire again.

  “We certainly want to come out and put our best game forward and win, and we want to go to London”, was what Mickey Arthur expressed after the see-saw battle against Sri Lanka. Well, that was where Pakistan were headed to after the semi-final thrashing, where the mighty, gifted Indians awaited.

  The Oval, with all its grandeur and majesty, was ready to adopt the vibrant South Asian colors and provide a perfect backdrop for what was to be a memorable Sunday eve. And you just had to be there. Hundreds of thousands of fans strolling down the South London alleys as they chanted trademark sub-continental slogans. Many more millions glued to their TV sets all around the globe.

      Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam rejoice after Pakistan completed a convincing win over hosts England in the semifinal (source – gettyimages/bbc.com)

  The sun hung like a brass coin on a thread, further dismissing any chances of rain interruptions. India decided to bowl first, apparently relying upon their stronger suit: chasing. The Pakistani duo made a cautious start until Zaman nicked Jasprit Bumrah to the keeper, in only the fourth over of the innings.

  Zaman begins drifting off the field; the man who has changed the structure of this batting line-up from an old woman pushing a shopping trolley to a rally car fluttering around bends dangerously. But then he is stopped mid-way and there is a daunting reason for that. Bumrah has overstepped.

  The blueish parts of the stands are muffled as the fans slouch down in disbelief. Even the Divinity was backing green that day. Making the most of this reprieve was what Zaman wished to do and he did that in some style. The flaying hook shots, the flashing cuts and drives, the heaves over cow-corner for magnificent sixes. In what seemed to be a blink of an eye, Zaman registered his maiden ODI ton.

  What an iconic venue to achieve it at! What a time to pull it off! What an opposition to score against! An incredible story had been penned down in the history books forever. The Babar Azam-Shoaib Malik pair built on this sensational platform to further stabilize the ship. However, it was not until Mohammad Hafeez arrived on the crease that the actual carnage unleashed.

  Who could have thought that Hafeez would suddenly discover this flexibility, this originality, this flair that changed perception and decimated India’s already woeful bowling attack? A quick-fire half-century supported by Imad Wasim’s unorthodox stroke-play meant Pakistan stormed to a mammoth total of 338/4 – the second highest in Champions Trophy history.

  The battle cry was at its loudest. The revolutionaries were retreating. The crowds waited as a sense of uneasiness surrounded the Oval. Jitters, panic and what not? On their day, the Indian batsmen could single-handedly wipe out the best bowling line-ups. Up front, facing Mohammad Amir, was Rohit Sharma. The dynamic, dominant Rohit, coming off a century in the semi-final.

      Fakhar Zaman raced to his maiden ODI hundred in the final against India, laying the foundation for Pakistan’s massive victory (source – AFP/indiatimes.com)  

  He tentatively nudges at the first delivery, wary of Amir’s murderous combo of pace and swing. Two balls later, he is pinned in front, courtesy of a quick in-swinger. Dead plumb. Rohit is gone. In comes the glorified warrior of the Indian soil, the greatest chaser the game has ever given birth to, the legend of modern-day cricket that is Virat Kohli.

  Amir beats him on the inside edge the very first ball he faces. The unsettled Kohli goes for an extravagant leg-side flick ten minutes later, which results in a top-edge straight to point’s throat. The green-lidded Pakistani section of the audience at The Oval goes berserk and the fielders swarm around Amir in joy. 200 million hearts rejoice and a billion hearts sink.

  At the rear of the Vauxhall End, the blaze rekindles. Synchronously, somewhere in a small dwelling in Karachi, a group of teenage kids scream their hearts out in utter elation, ripping their shirts off as they spurt around their home. Half of the game was won. Redemption tasted sweet. Greatness felt contagious.

  Kohli’s wicket was a killer blow that severely damaged India’s aims. An unthinkable batting collapse followed as wickets fell in a cluster. The greatest batting unit was surrendering as the Pakistani pacemen clawed through its defenses. Each and every bowler in the team got to taste and savour vengeance.

  The last wicket saw the ball lobbing up in the air and after what seemed to be an eternity, it dissipated into Sarfraz’s gloves and it was all done and dusted. The final nail was hammered into the coffin as Pakistan romped to a 180-run victory. The defending champions were dethroned and ambshed by their arch-rivals.

  History had been rewritten and preserved. One of the greatest comebacks in ODI cricket was accomplished. And once again, in all its unpredictability and fortitude, Pakistani cricket rose from its ashes, as resilient and hungry as ever.

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Record Book – England v India at the Women’s World Cup

  The final of the eleventh edition of the Women’s World Cup, between hosts England and a vibrant India, is underway at Lord’s, in what promises to be a riveting battle. While England have won the title thrice, India, on the back of remarkable wins over New Zealand and Australia, will be looking to lay their hands on the trophy for the first time.

  England and India have clashed on ten occasions in the Women’s World Cup, dating back to their first meeting in the 1978 edition. England hold a slight advantage, but India have won the most recent contest, on the opening day of the ongoing tournament. As the summit clash heats up at the Mecca, let us revisit the past World Cup encounters between the two sides.

Kolkata, 1978

  This league match at the iconic Eden Gardens was incidentally the first ever ODI that India Women played. It was a forgettable outing for the hosts, as they were shot out for a paltry 63 in 39.3 overs, with skipper Diana Edulji (18) being the top-scorer. Opening bowler Glynis Hullah returned figures of 6.3-4-2-2. England overhauled the total in the 31st over to win by nine wickets.

Auckland, 1982

  The 1982 edition, played in New Zealand, featured five teams, each team playing every other thrice. England saw off India by four wickets at Auckland’s Cornwall Park, chasing down a target of 113 with 24 overs to spare. Earlier, only captain Shanta Rangaswamy (50) stood tall as India were bowled out for 112 in the 53rd over. Hullah was at her stingiest again, taking 2/5 in 9.2 overs.

      Indian pacewoman Jhulan Goswami returned figures of 4/27 to set up a convincing win against England at the 2005 World Cup (source – thehindu.com)

Wanganui, 1982

  India exacted revenge in the second round, at Cooks Gardens in Wanganui, achieving ODI success against the Englishwomen for the first time. Wicketkeeper Fowzieh Khalili, opening the innings, stroked a career-best 88 to propel India to 178/7 in their 60 overs. In reply, the Indian bowlers, led by leggie Shubhangi Kulkarni (3/19), condemned England to a 47-run defeat in the 56th over.

Nelson, 1982

  England were back to their ruthless best at Trafalgar Park, where they subdued India with a dominating display. Pacer Janet Tedstone (4/17) and off-spinner Carol Hodges (3/9) tore through the Indian batting, and the total of 61 in 37 overs made for sorry reading. England cruised to a ten-wicket victory in the 22nd over, and went on to reach the final, which they lost to Australia.

Finchampstead, 1993 

  In what was possibly the best match of the tournament, the hosts eked out a last-gasp win. Jan Brittin scored 100 in England’s total of 179 – they lost their last seven for 22. Edulji, leading India again, took 4/12 with her left-arm spin. India went from 83/2 to 128/7 in reply, but the tail kept them alive. In a tense finish, number eleven Laya Francis was run out with four needed from two balls.

Lincoln, 2000

  The two teams played out another tight affair, this time in New Zealand. The English attack bowled with control to keep India to 155/7, Chanderkanta Kaul scoring 45. England crashed to 35/4 in the 21st over, before Claire Taylor (60) steadied the ship. India however had the final say, pinching an eight-run win with four balls left, off-spinner Rupanjali Shastri (3/25) being their best bowler.

      England captain Charlotte Edwards scored a match-winning 109 against India at Mumbai in the 2013 Women’s World Cup (source – ICC) 

Pretoria, 2005

  India, who would go on to enter their maiden final, notched a facile seven-wicket win. Pace ace Jhulan Goswami (4/27) and left-arm spinner Neetu David starred as England were bundled for 139, despite fifties from Charlotte Edwards (58) and Arran Brindle (51*). India slipped to 35/3, but Anjum Chopra (64*) and Rumeli Dhar (42*) dropped anchor, the win coming in the 46th over.

Sydney, 2009

  Eventual winners England stamped their supremacy in a nine-wicket win against India in the group stage at the North Sydney Oval. Holly Colvin (3/22) and Jenny Gunn dented the middle order, building on a fine start from Isa Guha (2/16). Mithali Raj top-scored with 59. The target of 170 was chased down in the 39th over, with Caroline Atkins and Claire Taylor both remaining unbeaten on 69.

Mumbai, 2013

  Reeling from a defeat to Sri Lanka in their opening game, defending champions England bounced back with a 32-run success against the hosts at the Brabourne Stadium. Captain Charlotte Edwards led from the front with a stroke-filled 109, powering England to 272/8. Despite the best efforts of Harmanpreet Kaur (107*), India could only manage 240/9, thanks to pacer Katherine Brunt (4/29).

Derby, 2017

  India began the 2017 edition positively, recording an impressive win against the hosts. Openers Punam Raut (86) and Smriti Mandhana (90 in 72 balls) set the tone with a 144-run alliance, following which captain Mithali Raj scored 71. Facing a challenging total of 281/3, England wobbled to 67/3 and were eventually dismissed for 246 in the 48th over, Fran Wilson’s 81 going in vain.

Specials – India v Pakistan ODI finals over the years

  Arch-rivals India and Pakistan are set to face each other in the final of the eighth edition of the Champions Trophy at the Oval today. Though this will be the first time that these two sides will contest an ICC ODI tournament final, they have often met in summit clashes over the years. Let us go back in time and revisit the instances of India and Pakistan squaring off in an ODI tournament final.

Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket, 1984-85

  In what was the final of a one-of-a-kind tournament featuring all seven Test nations, World Cup champions India posted a convincing eight-wicket win under lights at Melbourne. Kapil Dev (3/23) and L. Sivaramakrishnan (3/35) limited Pakistan to 176/9, which was chased down with 17 balls to spare, thanks to openers Kris Srikkanth (67) and ‘champion of champions’ Ravi Shastri (63*).

Austral-Asia Cup, 1986

  The final of the inaugural Austral-Asia Cup at Sharjah produced a classic that is etched in cricketing folklore. Sunil Gavaskar’s 92 guided India, who were inserted in, to 245/7. In reply, an equation of 90 from ten overs did not bother Javed Miandad (116*). With four needed off the last ball, the ‘Karachi streetfighter’ famously hit Chetan Sharma for six to seal Pakistan’s one-wicket win.

    With four needed off the last ball, Javed Miandad hit a six to ensure a famous win for Pakistan in the 1985-86 Austral-Asia Cup final 

Wills Trophy, 1991-92

  India and Pakistan pipped the West Indies to set up the final of this triangular series in Sharjah. Zahid Fazal (98*) and Saleem Malik (87) put on 171 for the third wicket before the former retired hurt, helping Pakistan to a sturdy 262/6. In the chase, India’s batsmen succumbed to paceman Aaqib Javed, who grabbed record figures of 7/37, including a hat-trick, as his team triumphed by 72 runs.

Austral-Asia Cup, 1993-94

  Pakistan won their third successive Austral-Asia Cup after beating India in the final. Aamer Sohail top-scored with 69 while Basit Ali hit a breezy 57 in Pakistan’s total of 250/6; off-spinner Rajesh Chauhan impressed with 3/29. India then fell apart from 163/4 to be dismissed for 211 in the 48th over, a fifth-wicket stand of 80 between Vinod Kambli and Atul Bedade going in vain.

Silver Jubilee Independence Cup, 1997-98

  This tri-series was played in Dhaka to mark 25 years of Bangladesh’s independence. India and Pakistan locked horns in the best-of-three finals after the hosts bowed out. The first final, a 46-over affair, ended in India’s favour with 53 balls and eight wickets to spare after openers Sachin Tendulkar (95) and Sourav Ganguly (68) put on 159 to shut Pakistan, who managed 212/8, out of the game.

  Pakistan turned the tables in the second final with a fine bowling display, spearheaded by left-arm spinner Mohammad Hussain (4/33). Only captain Mohammad Azharuddin (66) stood tall in a total of 189. Pakistan, buoyed by an attacking 51 from Saeed Anwar, galloped to a six-wicket win in 31.3 overs. The batsmen treated leggie Sairaj Bahutule with disdain, taking 53 off his five overs.

     Sourav Ganguly scored 124 to inspire India to a record-breaking win in the third final of the Independence Cup in 1997-98 (source – wisdenindia.com)

  The decider was a 48-over thriller that saw a new record for the highest successful chase. Pakistan amassed 314/5, with Anwar (140) and Ijaz Ahmed (117) adding 230 for the third wicket. Sourav Ganguly (124) and Robin Singh (82) took India to 250/1 in 38 overs, but the game went down to the wire – with three needed in two balls, Hrishikesh Kanitkar hit a four to give India a three-wicket win.

Pepsi Cup, 1998-99

  Pakistan had notched easy wins in their two league matches against India, and it was no different in the final of this tri-series (also involving Sri Lanka) at Bangalore. Inzamam-ul Haq (91) and Shahid Afridi (65) powered Pakistan to 291/8, which was too big a total for the hosts as they were undone by man of the match Azhar Mahmood, who took 5/38 to star in a 123-run victory.

Coca-Cola Cup, 1998-99

  India’s travails against Pakistan continued in the final of yet another tri-series, with England being the knocked-out team this time. The venue was Sharjah, Pakistan’s home away from home, and the bowlers rose to the occasion to skittle India out for 125 in 45 overs, with only Ganguly (50) showing some fight. The minuscule target was chased down in 28 overs with eight wickets still in the bag.

Kitply Cup, 2008

  India had thumped Pakistan by 140 runs in the league stage of this short tri-series in Dhaka, also featuring hosts Bangladesh, but the men in green raised their game in the final, winning by 25 runs. A second-wicket stand of 209 between Salman Butt (129) and Younis Khan (108) was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s 315/3. Despite fifties by M.S Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, India folded for 290 in 48.2 overs.

Famous Test Matches – India v Australia, Bombay, 1964-65

  India’s first two home series against Australia, in 1956-57 and 1959-60 respectively, had ended in disappointment as they managed to win just once in eight Tests. Their tormentor-in-chief was the legendary leg-spinner Richie Benaud, who snapped up a total of 52 wickets at 18.38 across both the rubbers.

  Thus, Bob Simpson’s Australians embarked on the 1964-65 tour with a view to achieve a hat-trick of series wins in India. Benaud, who had retired after the South African tour in the previous season, was no longer part of the team, but the visitors were fresh from their Ashes-retaining triumph in England. Moreover, Australia had not lost a Test series in the last eight years.

  India were led by the stylish Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, who at the age of 21 years and 77 days had become the youngest ever Test captain during the West Indian tour in 1961-62. The first Test at the Corporation Stadium in Madras saw him score a fine captain’s innings of 128*, but India went down by 139 runs despite holding a first-innings lead of 65.

  There was only a two-day gap for the hosts to formulate their bid to level the series. The second Test began on October 10, 1964 at the iconic Brabourne Stadium in Bombay, a venue where India were yet to lose in 11 Tests. While Australia had form on their side, history favoured India. The stage seemed set for an enthralling contest, and so it proved over the next five days.

  Just after Simpson elected to bat first, India got a slice of fortune as Australia’s assigned number three Norman O’Neill was ruled out of the match due to an upset stomach. The bowlers built on the good news by reducing Australia to 53/3; Salim Durani – the only Test player born in Afghanistan – removed Bill Lawry while Bhagwath Chandrasekhar castled Brian Booth and Simpson.

  Bob Cowper joined Peter Burge in the middle and the two resurrected the innings with a fourth-wicket stand worth 89, before the former was out LBW to the stingy left-arm spinner Rameshchandra ‘Bapu’ Nadkarni, who had taken 11/122 at Madras. Burge, one of Australia’s Ashes heroes, went on to make a boundary-filled 80, an innings that was cut short by Chandu Borde’s leg-spin.

  The loss of the two set batsmen for just four runs meant that Australia were 146/5 at this point and in need of another substantial partnership. Tom Veivers and wicketkeeper Barry Jarman provided just that. It was not until the fag end of the first day that they were separated, when Rusi Surti dismissed Jarman for a spunky, career-best 78, ending a sixth-wicket alliance of 151.

  Having ended the opening day at 301/6, ten-man Australia lost the last three wickets quickly to finish with a total of 320. Veivers became the fourth batsman to fall to Chandrasekhar’s legbreaks and was eighth out for a patient 67. ‘Chandra’ returned neat figures of 4/50. In reply, Alan Connolly gave Australia a perfect start by seeing the back of Dilip Sardesai with the score at seven.

mak-pataudi

       Indian captain Mansoor Ali Khan ‘Tiger’ Pataudi scored twin fifties in the thrilling Bombay Test of 1964-65 (source – sportskeeda.com)

  Simpson put his leg-spin to good use as he had Durani caught behind to make it 30/2. Local lad Vijay Manjrekar, who was born in Bombay but was now playing for Rajasthan in the Ranji Trophy, then gave able support to opener Motganhalli Jaisimha as the duo stitched together a stand of 112 for the third wicket. It was Veivers who produced the breakthrough, bowling Jaisimha for 66.

  Manjrekar followed soon after for 59, also to Veivers. The persistent off-spinning all-rounder was rewarded with two important wickets at a crucial juncture in the match, and India were now 149/4. Pataudi strode out at number six and managed to see off the rest of the day along with Hanumant Singh as India reached 178/4 at stumps.

  Veivers continued from where he left as he got rid of Hanumant early on day three. At the other end, Johnny Martin, a rare chinaman bowler, kept things boiling by accounting for Borde’s wicket. India had stuttered to 188/6 and it was up to Pataudi to take charge from hereon. He responded to the challenge by  dominating a seventh-wicket partnership of 67 with Surti.

  Surti’s loss did not deter the skipper, who looked good for another century when he was caught by Graham McKenzie off Veivers for 86, eighth out with the score at 293. Nadkarni and wicketkeeper Kumar Indrajitsinhji – grand-nephew of the great Ranji – hung around to score valuable runs and stretched India’s total to 341. Veivers collected a career-best 4/68 and bowled as many as 20 maidens.

  India had eked out a lead of 21, narrow but valuable nonetheless, given that they would bat last on a surface conducive to spin. Lawry and Simpson soon wiped off the deficit with an opening stand of 59. Lawry was in good nick and steered Australia to a secure position of 112/1 by the close, with Cowper giving him company. The visitors’ lead was 91 and they had eight wickets in the bank.

  A key moment came on the fourth morning when Chandra took two wickets in successive balls. The talented 19-year-old first had Lawry trapped in front for 68 and then hit the top of off stump with a peach of a delivery to snare the in-form Burge for a duck. However, this double strike at 121 did not hamper Cowper’s focus. He joined forces with Booth to put Australia in the driver’s seat.

  The left-right handed batting pair began to take the game away from the Indians with an ominous partnership of 125 for the fourth-wicket. At 246/3 during the second session, Australia were holding the aces with a lead of 225 and six wickets still in hand. The Test took another turn when Cowper was caught behind off Nadkarni for 81, the top score of the innings.

  Cowper’s wicket opened the floodgates for India as Nadkarni and Chandra tore through the rest of the batting line-up. First-innings saviours Veivers and Jarman were both out without scoring to Chandra. Nadkarni (4/33) grabbed the last three wickets, including that of Booth, who was seventh out, stumped for 74. Chandra (4/73) ended with impressive match figures of 8/123.

  Australia were all out for 274 and their collapse of six for 28 ensured that India’s target was limited to 254. The innings started poorly again, this time thanks to Connolly, who had Jaisimha caught behind for a duck with the score at four. Late in the day, Durani and nightwatchman Nadkarni fell in quick succession, neutralising the second-wicket stand of 66 between Sardesai and Durani.

chandra

       19-year-old leg-spinner Bhagwath Chandrasekhar returned match figures of 8/123 against Australia at the Brabourne Stadium (source – gettyimages)

  The eventful fourth day concluded with India’s score at a wobbly 74/3. The batting order was rejigged with Surti ostensibly sent as another nightwatchman, ahead of the more accomplished batsmen. The final day coincided with the festival of Dussehra, a public holiday, which meant that an estimated crowd of 42,000 thronged to witness the proceedings, hopeful of a famous Indian victory.

  Surti did not last long and perished to Veivers, making the score 99/4. Australian pace spearhead McKenzie, who was the star performer at Madras with a match haul of 10/91, had gone wicketless in the first dig. To India’s worry, he sprung into action at the right time for the visitors. Sardesai, who was looking solid at 56, was struck on the pads by McKenzie; India were now 113/5.

  The spectators were further filled with dismay nine runs later, when Hanumant was bowled by McKenzie. The Test was Australia’s to lose as India limped to 122/6. The hosts were battling against the odds as well – no team had successfully chased down a target of more than 76 in a Test on Indian soil. India’s last four wickets had added 153 in the first innings. Was an encore possible?

  The assured presence of Pataudi and Manjrekar slowly revived Indian hopes, and lunch was taken with the scoreboard reading 146/6. The resilient pair dug deep in the second session, knowing that time was not an issue. Runs were reduced to a trickle. The Australians were not offering any freebies; Veivers in particular kept bowling tirelessly, but a third wicket in the innings eluded him.

  Pataudi and Manjrekar emerged from the post-lunch session unscathed, and managed to guide India to 215/6 at tea. They were now only 39 away from victory, whereas Australia still needed four wickets. As the final act commenced, Simpson’s decision to take the new ball paid off immediately as Connolly had Manjrekar caught at slip by the captain himself.

  At the other end, Pataudi reached his second fifty of the match, but soon after, much to the shock of the crowd, he too fell victim to Connolly, caught at backward point by Burge for 53. India were 224/8, and 30 runs still separated them from victory. Indrajitsinhji came out to join Borde at this stage, with only the teenaged Chandra – a quintessential number eleven – to follow.

  India were privileged to have the experienced Borde – scorer of two Test hundreds – batting for them at number nine. He determinedly set about achieving the target, and the best efforts of McKenzie, Connolly, Veivers and Simpson were not enough to dislodge him. The remaining runs were unwaveringly churned out amid great tension and rising excitement.

  The winning moment arrived when Borde hit a straight drive to the boundary off a full toss from Veivers, sending the packed house into delirium. India reached 256/8 with half an hour left in the game and Borde, unbeaten on 30, returned to the pavillion as a hero. The series was eventually drawn after a stalemate in the deciding third Test at Calcutta.

  This two-wicket win was indeed special for Indian cricket, especially considering that Pataudi’s men had to fight back twice from perilous situations in the second innings. The Indian captain himself played a major role in the stirring victory, and unsurprisingly, mentioned it as ‘the most satisfying I have known as captain’ in his 1969 autobiography Tiger’s Tale.

Match Scorecard

In Focus – IIT Delhi plays host to the T20 Blind World Cup

  The second edition of the T20 Blind World Cup, which concluded today with hosts India beating Pakistan by nine wickets in the final at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, was contested with great zeal and dynamism. The ten-nation tournament featured 48 matches, played at various venues across the country.

  Among the venues was the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) Delhi Cricket Ground, which hosted four matches of the tournament, including the opening clash between India and Bangladesh. These fixtures formed part of the pre-event schedule of Sportech, the institute’s annual inter-collegiate sporting extravaganza which is orchestrated by the Board of Student Activities (BSA). 

  Sportech organised the games in close collaboration with the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI), which is in turn supported by the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and is affiliated to the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC). Witnessing the cricketers overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles and play with elan was undoubtedly an inspiration to the students.

india-v-bangladesh

    The Indian and Bangladeshi teams line up at the IIT Delhi Ground before the start of the opening match of the 2017 T20 Blind World Cup (source – sportech 2017)

  “At Sportech, we believe in the idea of playing with pride, and we think representing one’s nation is the epitome of that sentiment, which is why we wanted to spread the word across. Watching these matches was an enriching experience in itself.”, said Ishan Tyagi, General Secretary, Board for Sports Activities, IIT Delhi.

  The whole spectacle spanning across four matches in as many days was enlightening, to say the least, for the people involved. The spirited players served as beacons of hope as they showcased their skills that oozed from their play. The spectators were left enthralled by the astonishing batting performances as well as brilliant displays of fielding.

  It is to be noted that according to blind cricket rules, players are segregated under three categories. Each team of eleven has four players who are totally blind, categorised under B1; three players who are partially blind, categorized under B2; and four players who are partially sighted, categorized under B3.

  India, seeking to defend the title they won in 2012, posted a comfortable 129-run win over Bangladesh in the first match on 30th January. Experienced batsman Ketan Patel (B1), who was later named man of the match, top-scored with 98 while opener Prakasha Jayaramaiah (B3) contributed 96 as the hosts piled up 279/5. Bangladesh were restricted to 150/7 in reply.

sri-lanka-v-west-indies

      Action from the T20 Blind World Cup match between Sri Lanka and West Indies, played at the IIT Delhi Ground on 1st February (source – sportech 2017)

  The next day, New Zealand bore the brunt of a superlative batting display from the Sri Lankan openers. Ruwan Wasantha (B2) hammered 170* while Suranga Sampath (B3) scored 146* to help their side to an imposing 334/0. Unsurprisingly, New Zealand’s batsmen had no answer to this mammoth total and could manage only 120/7.

  Sri Lanka continued their good form in the following match, against the West Indies on 1st February. Sampath blasted his second century in succession, this time a knock of 116. Chandana Deshapriya (B3) gave him able support by scoring 108. The eventual total of 281/2 was too tall to chase for the Windies, who were kept to 151/8 in their allotted 20 overs.

  The West Indians were in action again on 2nd February, as they took on Bangladesh. Smarting from their big defeat to India, Bangladesh bounced back with a facile eight-wicket win while the West Indies suffered their second loss in a row. Kevin Andrew Douglas’ 123 went in vain as Bangladesh, thanks to a knock of 90 by Tanzjlur Rahman, chased down the total of 195/6.

  CABI was created as a platform for the social empowerment of the visually impaired through sport. Sportech’s association with them intersects with their vision of sport as a means of achieving greater inclusion and unity in society and their collaboration with the T20 Blind World Cup 2017 is an embodiment of that commitment.  

Record Book – The first 5-0 whitewash in ODI history

  Australia suffered their first 5-0 defeat in a bilateral ODI series last month, with South Africa dominating them in a high-scoring home series. Thus, every Test nation has now been whitewashed by this margin at least once. In this post, we look back at the first instance of an ODI series ending in a 5-0 result.

  It was only after three editions of the World Cup that the first five-match bilateral ODI series was played, even though Australia’s triangular World Series was running since 1979-80. The mighty West Indians were touring India in the winter of 1983 and they had a point to prove, having been beaten by the Indians in the World Cup final less than four months earlier.

  Besides the World Cup final, which they won by 43 runs, India had overpowered the West Indies on two other occasions earlier in the year – by 27 runs at Albion, Guyana and by 34 runs at Old Trafford in their opening World Cup match. Clive Lloyd’s men had thus faced three defeats in their last five ODIs against India.

  The first ODI on 13th October was significant as it was the first international match to be played in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the venue being the Sher-i-Kashmir Stadium in Srinagar. In a trend that was to repeat throughout the series, the game was reduced to 45 overs a side due to poor weather. Lloyd had no hesitation in fielding first.

  India were skittled out for a modest 176 in the 42nd over, with Kris Srikkanth’s 40 being the highest score. The innings had started well, the score reading 65/1 with Srikkanth and Dilip Vengsarkar at the crease. However, regular wickets stymied the innings; off-spinner Roger Harper taking 3/34.

  In reply, the West Indies were cruising at 108/0 in 22.4 overs when bad light stopped play for good. Openers Gordon Greenidge (44*) and man of the match Desmond Haynes (55*) saw off a disciplined start from the Indian bowlers to lay a strong foundation. Since India’s score at the same point was 81, the visitors were adjudged victors by 28 runs.

Sir Viv Richards of West Indies in action

      Vivian Richards stunned the Indians with a blazing 149 in the fourth ODI at Jamshedpur in 1983-84 (source – gettyimages)

  The first two Test matches of the tour then followed. The West Indies produced an authoritative display to win the first of them at Kanpur by an innings and 83 runs, before India upped their game at Delhi to secure a draw. The limited-overs series resumed on 9th November.

  The venue for the second ODI, a 49-over match, was Vadodara’s Moti Bagh Stadium, where India had a slow start before they ended with an uninspiring 214/6. Ravi Shastri top-scored with 65, though he consumed 125 balls. The West Indian chase was not exactly convincing either, but Greenidge’s patient 63 was enough to notch a four-wicket win for his side with seven balls to spare.

  A week after going 2-0 up in the ODI series, the West Indies went ahead by the same margin in the Tests as well, with a 138-run victory at Ahmedabad, where India crumbled for 103 in the fourth innings after being on an even keel for most part of the game. The visitors were making quite a statement, thus disappointing the partisan crowds. The fourth Test at Mumbai was drawn.

  The ODI series was duly secured, following another emphatic win in the third game at the Nehru Stadium in Indore on 1st December. India were reduced to 39/3 after Kapil Dev elected to bat. Mohinder Amarnath ground out a  plodding knock of 55 and shared in a stand of 84 for the fourth wicket with Ashok Malhotra, who hit a breezy 40.

  Shastri, batting at number eight, scored a quick, unbeaten 41 to boost the Indian total, which eventually ended at a respectable 240/7 in 47 overs. However, Greenidge put paid to Indian hopes yet again as he cracked 96, sharing in an opening stand of 149 with Haynes (54) that sealed the contest.

  The great Vivian Richards had signalled his intentions with a typical 49* from 50 balls at Indore, a week after which he launched himself into the hapless Indian bowling attack with one of the most ferocious ODI innings played. He made hay on a good batting pitch prepared for the fourth ODI at Jamshedpur’s Keenan Stadium on 7th December.

  In what was another 45-over affair, India began positively with Chetan Sharma bowling Haynes cheaply with the score at 27. That proved to be a false dawn though, as Greenidge and Richards went on the rampage with a buccaneering second-wicket partnership of 221 at more than seven an over. This created a new ODI record for any wicket.

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       Gordon Greenidge starred for the visitors in the ODI series in India by topping the run charts with a tally of 353 at 88.25 (source – icc-cricket.com) 

  The stand ended when Greenidge was bowled by Shastri for 115 off 134 balls. The Barbadian opener smoked ten fours and five sixes. Richards struck a majestic 149 from just 99 balls with 20 fours and three sixes, before falling to Kapil. The Indian captain was the pick of the bowlers, with a tidy return of 3/44. Shastri came in for the harshest treatment, going for 77 in seven overs.

  Richards’ blitz had supreme confidence written all over it, and it shattered the morale of the home side. Even after his dismissal, there was no respite as wicketkeeper Jeff Dujon carted 49* in 20 balls to swell the final total to an imposing 333/7. India’s required rate was 7.4 runs an over – an improbable ask by all means.

  Sunil Gavaskar top-scored with 83 while Malhotra impressed again with 65 at better than a run-a-ball, but the result was a foregone conclusion. India batted through their innings and finished at 229/5, leaving the West Indies one win away from a clean sweep. ‘King Viv’ showed that he was well ahead of his time as far as ODI batting was concerned.

  The West Indians refused to take their feet off the gas, as they wrapped up the Test series as well with a win by an innings and 46 runs in the fifth Test at Calcutta. The deadly Malcolm Marshall took six wickets in the second innings to help destroy India for a paltry 90.

  India’s ODI ignominy was complete at the Nehru Stadium in Guwahati on 17th December. The hosts could manage a total of only 178/7 in 44 overs, with Ghulam Parkar’s 42 the highest score. The West Indies achieved the target in the 42nd over for the loss of four wickets. The sixth Test at Madras was drawn, and is best remembered for Gavaskar’s record-breaking 30th century.

  The newly-crowned ODI champions were thus humbled in their own backyard. The West Indians would have possibly been vindicated that the loss in the World Cup final was but a blip, and that they remained the most feared unit in international cricket. Not once in 11 matches on the tour did they allow India the taste of victory.

  The West Indies went on to record the next three 5-0 ODI whitewashes as well – against New Zealand in 1984-85, against Pakistan in 1987-88 and against India again in 1988-89; all of them in the Caribbean. The first time they were at the receiving end of such a margin was in New Zealand in 1999-00. 

Famous Test Matches – India v Australia, Kanpur, 1959-60

  With India’s 500th Test match underway at Green Park in Kanpur, the time is apt to relive a significant result achieved by them at this venue, more than half a century ago. This was the second Test of Australia’s second visit to India; the visitors having won the first Test at Delhi by a massive innings and 127 runs.

  India had never got the better of Australia in nine attempts since 1947-48, and following the humbling at Delhi, the odds were clearly stacked against them coming into this Test, which was played from December 19-24, 1959. Gulabrai Ramchand had taken over the reins of the Indian captaincy for this series.

  Ramchand’s opposite number was Richie Benaud, who had starred at Delhi with a match haul of 8/76 and remained the biggest threat to the Indian camp. India had not won a Test in four years – their latest assignment being a catastrophic 5-0 whitewash in England. A new hero was needed, who eventually turned up in the form of a little-known off-spinner from Ahmedabad.

  Jasubhai Patel had a passable record of ten wickets in four Tests, at an average of 31, and had last played for India more than three years ago. The 35-year-old received a surprise call-up for the Kanpur Test from chairman of selectors Lala Amarnath, who believed that he could pose a considerable threat to the Australians on a newly-laid, spin-friendly surface.

  Openers Pankaj Roy and Nariman ‘Nari’ Contractor sedately added 38 runs after India won a crucial toss. It was not long before Benaud got into the act, however. The leg-spinner dismissed both the opening batsmen, thus initiating a wobble in the Indian batting. India slipped to 77/4 and never recovered from these early setbacks.

  Alan Davidson, the impactful left-arm paceman, dealt vital blows to the middle and lower order, finishing with a neat return of 5/31. Benaud continued his good tour by taking 4/63. India could muster only 152 on the board, and the fact that no batsman crossed 25 underlined the control that Australia’s bowlers maintained throughout the innings.

  Australia, resuming from 23/0, seemed to be moving ahead fast in the game on the second day as their openers Colin McDonald and Gavin Stevens produced a stand of 71. Though Patel removed the latter, the dependable Neil Harvey joined McDonald in the middle and the duo steered their team to a strong position of 128/1 at lunch.

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       Indian off-spinner Jasubhai Patel produced a stunning performance and created new bowling records in the Kanpur Test against Australia in 1959-60 (source – wikipedia.org)

  Patel was made to change ends after lunch, and this had a remarkable effect on his bowling and as a result, on the Australian batting. Exploiting the slow track and the footmarks on it to the fullest, he bamboozled the visitors with generous turn and drift. McDonald (53) and Harvey (51) were both clean bowled, and this was just the beginning.

  At the other end, Chandu Borde sent back Norman O’Neill – the only wicket in the innings that did not fall to Patel. Ken ‘Slasher’ Mackay was struck on the pads for a duck and Australia had now lost 4 for 31 to be 159/5.  Davidson bravely attempted to grind at one end, even as Patel, who had brought India right back in the contest, was running amok at the other.

  Such was Patel’s accuracy that none of the batsmen to ensue were allowed to settle in, and they sooner or later succumbed to his guile. Davidson’s resistance ended when he was the ninth man out, bowled for 41 with the score reading 219. Last man Gordon Rorke was caught by Abbas Ali Baig, restricting Australia to a lead of 67 and giving Patel a nine-wicket haul.

  Patel’s analysis read an astonishing 35.5-16-69-9. He single-handedly destroyed the Australian line-up – only one of his nine wickets was assisted by a fielder’s catch. These were the new best innings figures by an Indian, bettering Subash Gupte’s 9/102 against the West Indies at the same ground a year ago. The record stood until 1998-99, when Anil Kumble collected his famous 10/74.

  The onus to perform now lay on the batsmen if India hoped to nudge ahead in the Test. It was Contractor who rose to the challenge, compiling a fine 74 – his best Test innings according to him – to give India a positive start. With Davidson at his best, this knock provided belief to the rest of the batsmen to tackle his pace and swing.

  When Contractor was caught by Harvey off Davidson, India were 121/3; the lead being 54 and the match tantalisingly poised. Australia appeared to have the upper hand at 153/5, before the Mumbai pair of Borde (44) and Ramnath Kenny (51) put on 61 for the sixth wicket. The tide was slowly shifting towards the hosts.

  An even more crucial partnership followed for the seventh wicket, for which Kenny and Bapu Nadkarni (46) shared 72 runs. The displays of Patel and Contractor had undoubtedly rubbed on to the middle and lower order, leaving Benaud increasingly worried with every passing over.

  The last four wickets however fell for just five runs, as India were bowled out for 291, which was a great improvement from their first innings. Davidson bowled his heart out to return 7/93, giving himself 12/124 for the match – both career-best figures. This match haul is still the best by an Australian bowler against India.

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       Nari Contractor scored 74 in the second innings, a knock that enabled India to bounce back after conceding a 67-run lead (source – thehindu.com)

  Australia’s target of 225 was always going to be a difficult proposition on the wearing, final-day pitch. Patel expectedly struck early, dismissing Stevens with only 12 on the board. Late in the day, Polly Umrigar’s off-spin delivered the important wicket of Harvey, caught by Nadkarni in the slips. Australia ended the fourth day at 59/2.

  Umrigar (4/27) also accounted for O’Neill early on the fifth day, without any addition to the score, before consigning Mackay for his second duck in the match. Australia were now 61/4 and staring at a quick submission to spin. A double disaster occurred with the score at 78, as Patel added the scalps of Davidson and Benaud. This effectively sealed the game.

  McDonald top-scored for his team again, churning out a patient 34 before being the ninth man out at 105, stumped by Naren Tamhane off Patel. This was the final wicket, as Rorke was absent hurt. Patel fittingly had the last say as he finished with 5/55 in the second innings, his match figures being an outstanding 14/124.

  India had astoundingly turned the tables to record a historic win by 119 runs – their first ever against Australia. Patel’s startling recall from the wilderness proved to be a coup de maître. Though this match will always be remembered as ‘Patel’s Test’, one must not forget the invaluable contributions of Contractor, Kenny and Umrigar.

  Patel’s match return was a new Indian record as well, surpassing Vinoo Mankad’s 13/131 against Pakistan at Delhi in 1952-53. It was in turn improved by Narendra Hirwani, who took 16/136 on debut against the West Indies at Chennai in 1987-88. India’s best return against Australia currently is Harbhajan Singh’s 15/217, at Chennai in 2000-01.

  Australia bounced back to win the five-Test series 2-1, thanks to another big win – by an innings and 55 runs – in the fourth Test at Chennai. Benaud led from the front, taking 29 wickets at 19.58. Davidson performed even better, with 29 wickets at 14.86. As for Patel, Kanpur was his only moment in the sun as he never played for India again after this series. 

  Given India’s position in world cricket at that time, the ‘miracle at Kanpur’, as it was christened by the media back then, was a pivotal moment in their cricketing history. Two years later, India won their first series against England under the leadership of Contractor, while a maiden overseas series victory followed in New Zealand in 1967-68.

Match Scorecard