Countdown to ICC Cricket World Cup 2007
The world cup of 1992 was one of the most memorable ever. It was the first world cup to be played under artificial lights, colored clothing and the white ball. However this was also a world cup marred by a stupid rain rule. In an effort to make the calculation of the target simpler, in case of the match being shortened due to rain interruptions, the organizers really botched it up with the most ridiculous rule ever. The absurdity of this rule was not realized until after the matches began and the rules actually implemented. We are featuring one such match now. It was also the first and only World Cup where the teams were not split into group and hence was conducted in a round robin fashion.
India came into the world cup on the back of an abysmal tour of Australia. They had lost the test series 4-0 and were comprehensively beaten in the final of a triangular tournament by the host, with West Indies being the other team. The world cup was being conducted at the fag end of that tour and the Indian team seemed to be devoid of motivation. Before meeting the Australians, India had already lost to England and their match against Sri Lanka was rained out.
Australia on the other hand came into the world cup as the firm favorites to lift the tournament in their own backyard. However they started poorly and came into the match against India having lost both their opening matches to New Zealand and South Africa.
Allan Border won the toss and elected to bat. They started really badly. They were at 2 for 38 at one stage when Dean Jones joined David Boon and began the recovery. The two took the score to 102 with some breath taking running between the wickets. After Boon fell for 43, Jones continued to take the Australian cause forward with partnerships first with Steve Waugh and then with Tom Moody. However the Australian innings fell apart after the dismissal of Jones, setting India a target of 238 runs.
To say that the Indian chase started off disastrously would be an understatement. Srikkanth got out for a duck when the team total was only six. The way Ravi Shastri batted then defied logic. When he got out he had taken up 75 balls for his 25 runs and the Indian total at that time was a paltry 58 with almost half the overs already gone. Tendulkar came next and was dismissed for 11 trying to up the tempo. Kapil Dev came in next and scored a rapid fire 21 off 26 balls thereby providing some much needed impetus to the innings. When he left India still was in a precarious position of 4 for128.
Then came the superb partnership between Azharuddin and Sanjay Manjrekar. The two took the score to 194 before Azharuddin departed for a well made 93. The partnership was broken in the only way it seemed possible, through a run out. Then the rain started playing its part in the match. 3 overs were reduced from the Indian innings while only 2 runs were reduced from the target. After the rain interval India kept losing wickets while inching towards the target.
Off the last ball India needed 4 runs to win with 1 wicket in hand. Javagal Srinath was facing the bowler with Venkatapathy Raju at the other end. To this day I remember vividly the commentary of that last ball by Bill Lawry while watching it on TV. Tom Moody bowls the last delivery. Srinath takes an almighty swing at the ball and hits it high towards long on. Bill Lawry screams “It’s a SIX!!!”. I start jumping up and down like crazy (I was 14 at the time). But I froze suddenly as both myself and Lawry realize that it’s not going for six but infact going into the hands of Steve Waugh. Incredibly Waugh drops the catch. Elation again!!! Waugh recovers quickly and throws the ball to the wicket keeper’s end. Raju sets off for the 3rd run which would make the match a tie. Lawry momentarily forgets that he is an Australian and yells “RUN!!! RUN!!! RUN!!!” The throw is wide and everyone including myself is praying that Raju does a superman. But the keeper recovers quickly enough to run him out and I was left with the biggest heartbreak of my life. That was the first and only time I had tears in my eyes after watching a cricket match. Just couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed!!!