With his last-ball six off Chetan Sharma at Sharjah, Javed Miandad had scripted his name in immortal letters in the annals of Indo-Pak encounters.
Six years later, in 1992, he literally ‘jumped’ on to the exclusive wagon reserved for rare comic moments that have sometimes graced the severely-contested encounters between the two countries.
The great Pakistani batsman did have the penchant for getting under the skin of the opposition. And often it did work for him.
But on this occasion, the ageing master looked a bit silly — especially in the prime days of the cricket-telecast revolution, with hundreds of sophisticated cameras trained on him, picking up his rather uncouth body language and transmitting the pictures worldwide. To cap it all, Pakistan lost the match — the first of their till now unbroken series of World Cup defeats to India – and captain Imran Khan did not sound too delighted with his senior batsman’s efforts.
Perhaps it was the pressure of the situation.
Not a giant leap for international relations
The conditions were not ideal for batting. Krishnamachari Srikkanth had struggled against the swing, Imran Khan and Aaqib Javed had tied India down in spite of some solid batting by Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja. It was left to the young Sachin Tendulkar and veteran Kapil Dev to inject the much needed momentum into the Indian innings, with a rollicking stand of 60 in eight overs.Kapil raced to a 26-ball 35, while Tendulkar remained unbeaten on 54 from 62. The Indian total of 217 did not look great, but with the Sydney atmosphere helping the prodigious swing of Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar, things did not look too easy for Pakistan either.
In fact, the two opening bowlers sent back a youthful Inzamam-ul-Haq and Zahid Fazal with just 17 on the board. Aamer Sohail and Miandad went about rebuilding the innings, finding run scoring a difficult proposition.
With Javagal Srinath bowling first change, and Sachin Tendulkar running in with his wicked little medium -aced swingers, the scoreboard ticked over sluggishly. The left-handed Sohail did enjoy a good period against Venkatapathy Raju, but by the 25th over, the score had trudged along to just 85 for two. Miandad was getting jittery. Behind the wicket, Kiran More was getting animated. In all honesty, it cannot be accurately described as the clash of giants, but glaring sparks did start to flow.
Tendulkar sent one down the leg side. Miandad tried a nudge, and it went through to More. In an extravagant appeal for a quite remarkable non-event, More shouted long and loud, with his little frame leaping up and down in entreaty. The umpire was not interested and Miandad was not amused.
As Tendulkar ran in to bowl again Miandad, crouching in his characteristic chest open stance, suddenly pulled away with the teenager in mid-stride. Turning towards More, the Pakistani pro asked what seemed to be some pretty pointed questions. More’s answers were not exactly brimming with apology. After the rather needless exchange of words, Miandad pointed towards More and complained eloquently to the umpire. More retorted with a gesture that made no secret of his exasperation with the batsman.
Luckily the umpire in question was David Shepherd, the most unflappable official around. He simply asked the players to get on with the game.
Miandad pushed the next ball towards mid-off and took off for a single, and made a fast turn and got back to his crease as the throw came in quickly. More whipped off the bails, with Miandad well inside – and this did not amuse the batsman either.
It was now that Miandad went through the peculiar leaps that have been packaged as one of the landmark slapstick moments of cricket history. The two ends of the bat clutched in two hands, the batsman executed several spot jumps, bringing his knees up to touch his chest. Apparently it was supposed to mimic More’s appeals, but as imitation left a lot to be desired. Besides, it looked undeniably crass in the middle of a cricket pitch.
Mohammad Azharuddin, moving in from cover, was seen fuming at Miandad’s antics.
It perhaps did not do wonders for international relations, but continues to be an oft-viewed and recounted sequence that has been reduced to hilarity. Thankfully, that was the last of the unwanted demonstrations, and the game continued.
More had the last laugh. He brought off two catches, a stumping and combined to effect a run out, while Miandad laboured for 34 overs to score 40 from 110 balls.
With Tendulkar dismissing Sohail and Azharuddin astutely bringing Prabhakar back to get rid of Salim Malik, the Pakistani challenge fizzled out. By the time Miandad was yorked by Srinath, the game was as good as over.
Tendulkar deservingly won the Man of the Match award, and Imran Khan mentioned that some of his batsmen had taken far too long over their runs.
Umpires Shepherd and Peter McConnell reported the incident to match referee Ted Wykes – without the exchanged dialogue about which they had very little clue. Fortunately Wykes asked the team managers to sort things out, and the combatants escaped without the penalties of fines and bans.
Brief scores: India 216 (Ajay Jadeja 46, Sachin Tendulkar 54*, Kapil Dev 35; Mushtaq Ahmed 3 for 59) beat Pakistan 173 (Aamer Sohail 62, Javed Miandad 40) by 43 runs. – 49 over match.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)
First Published: March 4, 2013, 10:52 am