If you talk about the India-Pakistan rivalry in ODI cricket, Indian fans will always point out their country’s superb record in World Cup matches. Pakistan fans, on the other hand, will almost always go back to April 18, 1986, when Javed Miandad struck a six off the final ball to help his team to defeat India in the finals of the Austral-Asia Cup.
Pakistan needed four runs off the final ball to win the Austral-Asia Cup. Miandad, ever the gladiator, decided to turn on the pressure on 18-year-old Chetan Sharma by standing out of his crease. Perhaps, the India paceman saw this, perhaps he did not.
Sharma decided to go for the yorker. But instead of a ball that should have been tough to hit, it turned out to be a full toss that Miandad calmly struck for a six. The sight of him running back to the dressing room with his arm aloft after hitting the shot has not been forgotten by supporters on both sides.
Pakistan, needing 246 runs to win the match, were in early trouble at 61/3. And that is when Miandad with a trademark combination of quick singles and fours started to turn things around. The right-handed batsman finished with a splendid 116 not out. The next highest score for Pakistan was Mohsin Khan’s 36.
Batting first, India had got to a score of 245 as Kris Srikkanth made 75 runs while Sunil Gavaskar went on to register 94 runs from 134 balls. But other than the six, not much is remembered.
Here’s how Miandad described the incident in his auto-biography Cutting Edge: My Autobiography:
“Poor Chetan Sharma. They say he did try for a yorker, but the ball slipped out of his hand. Or perhaps it was the fact that I was standing well forward of the batting crease that threw him off his length. Whatever the mysterious origins of that last delivery, it ended up being the perfect ball for me and for Pakistan - a full-toss at the right height, slightly towards leg, all I had to do was take a swing and it sailed out of the ground. After that, it was pandemonium. We had won, Pakistan had won, Tauseef had won, I had won. What a match! It is one of the best memories of my life.”
For Chetan Sharma, it was a moment he never forgot. Rather, a moment he has never been allowed to forget.
“I try to forget that six but people do not let me. People do not forget things – either good or bad – that happens during India-Pakistan clashes. People won’t remember the hat-trick against New Zealand in the 1987 World Cup or the good performance against England but that Miandad six is one thing they will never forget, I tried to bowl a yorker but that turned out as a low full-toss. But people should also remember that I was just an 18-year-old boy then and was facing a batsman of the stature of Miandad. Kapil trusted me. No one in the team said anything to me but I myself was upset.