Nothing gets bigger in cricket than an India-Pakistan contest. When you win it for your side, you are the ‘hero’ and no excuses are enough during losses. September 30, 1997, saw Karachi stage a nail-biter between the archrivals amidst some serious crowd trouble. It was a game that made Rajesh Chauhan immortal in the annals of Indian cricket. Known for his tight off-spin bowling, Chauhan this time shone with the bat and hoisted the best off-spin bowler, out of the playing greens. We will come back to it later.

When Sourav Ganguly became the fifth player from the Indian side to be hit by a missile from the crowd, match referee Ranjan Madugalle decided enough was enough, and stopped the game. When play resumed India required 267 to win from 47 overs and it was Ganguly’s payback time. Merciless, Ganguly was at his fluent best. He drove elegantly and dominated a strong Pakistani bowling attack comprising Waqar Younis, Aaqib Javed, Azhar Mahmood, Saqlain Mushtaq and Shahid Afridi, in full confidence.

Ganguly’s 89 from 96 balls and partnership of 98 with fellow left-hander Vinod Kambli (53), helped India get to a comfortable position but a flurry of wickets and the scenario changed. Later, the sixth wicket stand of 62 between Robin Singh and wicketkeeper Saba Karim got India close to a win but Waqar turned things in the home team’s favour when he dismissed.

Last over, India needed eight and the bowler was Saqlain Mushtaq. Chauhan, who is not known for willow wielding skills, was on strike and all Indian fans hoped for was a single, so that Robin got the strike. However the Madhya Pradesh cricketer had other plans. And this happened.

Chauhan stepped out and cleared the ground. With the match in India’s clutches, two singles later, India had levelled the series 1-1. The video shows Chauhan speaking bout the flurry of congratulatory messages and Saqlain reflected upon his sleepless nights. Eleven years before this game, that’s exactly how India’s Chetan Sharma may have felt when Javed Miandad struck the last ball six in the final at Sharjah. This time it was Pakistan’s time to experience the heartbreak. That’s what a victory and defeat does in a India-Pakistan encounter.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sportsmarketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)