Ahmer Naqvi Four years ago, on the eve of Mohali, a series of coincidences led me to be chatting quite regularly with Subash. I was an absolute wreck at the time, while he was in some serious zen state. So this time around, I decided to see if I could emulate my guru.
We are discussing the 1996 Quarter-final, a contender with 1999 WC final as the most painful of my life. This was my first tournament as a cricket maniac, and after this match the first stain of fixing on my fandom, which never went away.
I was 13 and living in Karachi, in love with Wasim and raised on a diet of biryanis and Indian thrashings on Fridays
Subash Jayaraman: I was 19 and in 2nd year of college in Varanasi. I was stuffed in to small hostel common room with a Solidaire color tv
AN: Were you as confident as you were before Mohali?
SJ: No fucking way. It was the 90’s bro. Indian team and Confidence didn’t go together in the 90’s.?
AN: hahaha. ok so shall we start?
SJ: [0:09] Richie Benaud picks it up from BBC London or somewhere, looking like a ghost in front of the Bangalore crowd, wearing a jacket that has the cigarette maker logo, Wills. Quite classy. It’s tough to imagine Cigarette makers being title sponsors for anything nowadays isn’t it?
AN: Definitely – felt the same looking at massive on-screen graphics for Wills in the 1987 Test highlights from Doordarshan. 2nd world cup in a row sponsored by cigarette makers right? Benson & Hedges in 1992
SJ: yeah! That was the last world cup with a Ciggie sponsor.. There was of course Rothman’s cup in Sharjah, right?
AN: Should also point out that you can see a typewriter to the left of the screen. How quaint.
SJ: Seeing Benaud as an anchor on the field, in front of the crowd and a typewriter. That is quaint. Another thing is Benaud mentions about Bangalore being the global tech-hub.
AN: Yes! Benaud could always tell which way the wind was blowing. That, or #AchheDin had come much before they were promised?
SJ: Playing XI
AN: NO WASIM
SJ: NO WASIM
AN: That was like a dagger through my heart. My uncle, who had long been going on about these new boys (and my heroes) being up to no good had a field day with this. I think there’s visual or an image of Wasim waving to the crowd form the balcony. i think this was a seminal moment. You had to accept fixing at some corner of your mind as a fan. This was its first real blow because as much as you love your hero, the pain of such a defeat demands explanations and none is as sexy as Wasim skipping the match because bookies were going to pay him a lot or kill him or something and so after being man of the final in the first WC of the 90s, Wasim ends the next two with dark clouds of fixing that would hound him forever.
SJ: I remember being quite happy to know Wasim wasn’t going to play. In fact, all the boys were happy and thought SRT would cruise to a hundred, considering the form he was in.
AN: TBF even when i look at the teams now i see there’s no way we could’ve lost
SJ: I think Wasim’s backing out, totally shifted the advantage to India
AN: yeah – the pakistani team was used to bossing the indians at this point. I remember a couple of years from this match i’d actually feel sorry for india. That’s what makes the 90s losses in the WC so much harder – we were easily better.
SJ: Let’s look at the Indian team first. Besides SRT, and to an extent Srinath and Kumble, no one else really stands out
AN: I’d add Jadeja, but this is the innings where he earns that reputation
SJ: Azhar bhai was.. well you know, off and on… who knows
AN: Pak btw have Aqib with the 7-fer, Waqar and Mushie who were great, but a bowler short with Ata already a liability. Still, better than Srinath Kumble Prasad Raju and a 5th
SJ: Benaud is actually reading out the names. This is from a highlights. Why would the producer have valuable seconds taken off by reading a list?
AN: [1:27] Toss. How young does Chappelli look!
SJ: But his voice is still the same. You’d think it would age with time
AN: Amazed at how awkward Azhar sounds – remembered him more princely. Aamir lying to himself by saying “we’re very confident 5 dozen times”
SJ: let’s talk about the toss
AN: Yeah. huge one to lose for us. HUGE
SJ: I think the coin hit the ground and Azhar was like, “we are going to bat”
AN: hahah indeed. the template of the 90s was bat first. Always. thats why SL were such a revelation and way ahead of their times.
SJ: Also.. both the captains.. they give the impression that they are quite fluent in English but make a meal of it..
AN: Aamir is giving his greatest acting performance. He will spend the next two decades talking about how he was forced to be captain – the team was in a mess.
SJ: Azhar repeats “Wicket is going to crumble”. I don’t remember any such thing happening
AN: Yeah, same. How much did it crumble? i always felt Pakistan bottled this
SJ: Pakistan gift wrapped it to some average bowling
AN: BTW i’ve never revisited this match since it happened. I hate it
SJ: I fondly remember this. This is the 2nd IND-PAK World cup i was seeing as a teenager. Previous one was in Sydeny 92.
Sachin mania was in a full flow. Shitty team (mostly) and a great player.
AN: moving on if i may, the ridiculously cut highlights have eaten up the entire start to the Indian innings, but straight away the fact that the openers are out there after 20 overs is just disaster. Esp for how Pakistan play. Wickets are the only way that team knew how to defend.
SJ: By the way, This is the first time PAk were back in India after the 1987 Test at the same venue
also 87, 96, 05 – every 9 years Bangalore served up a titanic indo pak clash, sadly 14 didn’t deliver
SJ: Pause at 2.43
AN: LOL. Saaachin. what a razzaq dismissal. hahaha
SJ: Ata ur rehman — Wasim’s replacement actually delivers
AN: delivers is stretching it
SJ: well, his figures were 10-0-40-1 i think
AN: The whole point of Wasim is his – the urdu word is dehshat – or his terror/fear. him not being there is defeat
SJ: and it was the wicket of the tournament topscorer
AN: Misses the point IMO – India are 90/1 after 21.1. They’re rollicking by 90s standards. I remember 100 by 25 overs was solid. Ata couldn’t have done more, I’d agree, but him being there was a defeat in itself
SJ: On air we have with us, the late Tony Greig. Keep an eye out for banalities from Shastri and Imran Khan later on
AN: LOVED TONY GRIEG. hahah IK was a terrible comm
SJ: What a delivery!
AN: India are 168/2 after 36.3
Sidhu looks a little tired there – fitness wasn’t the same or hot day? Magnificent flipper, Shastri said neck and crop #clichealert
but india are all set for a huge score. though not as big as the one they would get. This was still something that could be dragged back
SJ: He was getting up there in age. and had made 93, and it was the 37th over. Understandable.
So far, we have seen a couple of boundaries and the indian wickets. This highlights producer must be on dope. He let Benaud read out names of players but is now cutting out most of India’s innings!
AN: hahaha. That or the pakistani uploader has been making merry!
AN: uff that shot by azhar [04:20]
200/4 and that brilliant catch by Rashid – that should’ve been the catalyst for our comeback. Always would be stuff like this as Osman wrote in the Haal piece. Instead India score at 10/over
Waqar btw 7-1-24-1. Mushie had been most expensive, and fifth bowler had been bwoled out for 10-0-54-1, which wasn’t bad
SJ: Tony Greig has the premonition.. “could go wrong so quickly”
AN: he does doesn’t he?
i think this is the most atypical thing about this match – how India grabbed the initiative. Right when Pakistan would usually go on top and its of course been a hallmark of these recurrent losses
SN: Pause [06:00]
AN: FUCK I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW MANY WE WILL STILL CONCEDE
SJ: in Just 3 overs!!!
AN: AAAARGH. THIS IS MORE PAINFUL THAN I REMEMBERED
My heart is pounding again. Oh my god I can’t believe how much i blocked out of this.
We saw Indian platform from openers but Pak came back in with their studs
AN: Literally exploding in my chest now… hahaha
SJ: Dodgy running by Mongia of course
“Get ready for a blistering yorker – aww hes played it well, he’s played it for four” — Greig is calling this game like a prophet.
Kumblie is playing a blinder
SJ: That was Kumble playing it!!!! We all remember Jadeja but Kumble was key.
AN: Very true. Last two by Anil kutta.
That shot by Jadeja, that is one of my abiding memories. Waqar giving away more runs than in almost his entire spell so far
SJ: I think that was the original appearance of the helicopeter shot?
AN: Fuck how did they get so many??!?!? oh Waqarrrrrrr, WHY AREN’T YOU BOWLING YORKERS? AAAAAARRRGGGGHHHH.
SJ: “22 runs in the over when Indians would have settled for 6”
AN: WHAT THE FUCK IS HE BOWLING?
and again caught tho
fuck fuck fuck
oh man that sinking feeling at the end of this
SJ: 49.1 was a terrific shot
AN: yes it was, 49.2 even better
SJ: Adjusted to width and guided thru point
49.2 Original Couch Talk intro
“Waqar Younis is being slaughtered”
AN: I never thought of it this way before, but hard to reconcile with which W’s legacy was left more eviscerated after this match – Waqar’s 39 runs were perhaps the moment that he forever became slightly below and behind Wasim in the pantheon. And Wasim’s omission meant that he would forever be tainted as a fixer, particularly in Pakistanis’ eyes.
SJ: At that time – Wasim we thought was genuinely injured. So, Waqar Younis’s reputation took more of a beating tbh
AN: we didn’t and also wasim more than others was famous for playing through the pain. Not saying what i believe was true, but the popular perception
SJ: 40+ runs in last 3 overs.. What were you thinking ahead of the chase?
AN: Actually what comes next is what i hate most. Since i would give up at this point. The start of that chase, that for me was worse than the 3 overs
SJ: As India fan, quite confident with the total, and also the “momentum” playing at home, you felt great
AN: i think that total was massivebut you still backed pakistan owing to the record
40 runs more than what you thought was possible. I remember having a sutta with my buddies in the hostel and everyone seemed to be quite happy as if it was a festival or something. Proverbial champagne was on ice.
AN: [11.25] Saeed begins. Weird to see such a classy opener for us. So rare!
SJ: One over reduced too. wtf rules.
AN: oh yeah!. i remember that was another crushing blow and we felt ball had gone to stands so often wasn’t our fault
The silence of the crowd – its hostility was something my generation hadn’t seen
We only saw India in sharjah. This stayed with people
Shaiby at Kolkata was its catharsis
uff Saeed Anwar being so sexyyyyyyy
SJ: Anwar batting. Sohail slogging.
AN: 49/0 after 7. Belief is rising
SJ: Zandu balm sighting
AN: oh Saeeddd what a shot [13.00]
SJ: Well, THAT’S SICK. Pin drop silence in the hostel
AN: even now, 19 years later, i feel that something might change
SJ: and you see the rate at which they are scoring and you know Miandad, Malik and INzy are yet to come basically Pak can coast home now
AN: exactly – we would canter to the chase. it felt so real
SJ: It was so soul crushing. You put up a big score against the odds, really. Scoring against one of the greatest fast bowler ever. tail wags. Jadeja blinder and the indian bowlers come out to crap the bed
SJ: Anything else on Anwar batting?
AN: I think i should but i feel that i should be quoting Ghalib or something. There are no words of mine that can do justice. These shots are just sublime, there is so much artistry in them. its like Clapton playing the guitar to use an obvious analogy or that Dire Straits guy, although i feel wrong using white guitarists to compare Saeed with but yeah you get the point. I think the best example, guitarist wise would be Amir Zaki. For the pakistani readers Saeed was playing Mera Pyar right now
SJ: At this point, we were shitting our pants in hostel thoroughly abusing the entire ancestry of kumble, srinath and prasad
[13.20] That six off srinath! From off stump, whipped to sq leg
AN: Now Sohail creaming Kumble
SJ: shit bowling by kumble
AN: My god! Here it comes.
SJ: “Indians have come alive” says Tony Greig. 84/0 in 10 overs. Basically 200 to get in 39 overs.Pakistan odds on favorites. Srinath comes around the wicket. First ray of hope for india fans.. with Anwar out.. you knew there was always chance of getting sohail, but so lucky to get anwar
AN: oh man, i can feel that familiar shredding of my guts. this anwar dismissal, as i said, was always on the cards, but it was a huge blow since he was such a lucky omen against india.
Pakistan reach 100 with a massive 6. Ijaz just picking up the forlorn Prasad like he didn’t matter
Here it comes. Oh no. FOR FUCKS SAKE
SJ: here it is. PAUSE.
AN: The absolute worst moment of my cricket loving career. The absolute, definitive worst moment. Worse than Misbah’s 07 miss, worse than any one point of the 99 final, worse than the spotfixing expose, worse than anything. The absolute inversion of the entire Pakistan cricket mythology. If i would be so base to refer to patriarchal constructs, and this match was massively seen through those lens, then this was pretty much a castration.
SJ: This is where the game turned entirely for us. Let me set the scene up for you. So, after the inns break, all of us rushed in tot he common room, me and my buddy got the front seats.. absolutely 2 feet from TV. Sitting on floor watching, we watch Anwar-Sohail carnage. Anwar gets out, high fives but then ejaz and sohail batter some more. 113/1 in 14.4 overs. Still at 8 RPO
And we see the pointing of the bat. That too to a poor soft guy like Prasad which is why i always hated Sohail. He is a bully and picks on the weak kids in class.
AN: OK first up. Aamir, as much as I fucking hate him for this moment, was not quite a bully. He sledged Botham repeatedly in the 92 final and was more crazy than anything. But Prasad’s demeanour I think that is for me the thing that insulted me the most because this is the platonic ideal for pakistani. It is our dream. That a fast bowler, versus their fierce rivals, baying crowd, leaves stumps shattered.
and prasad’s reaction!
It was like watching someone brutally murder your family, and then go to peeling potatoes – to inflict such a grotesque attack, and then make it infinitely worse by treating it almost as a banality.
And i realise now that obviously Prasad must have been pumped but he was almost overcome by the act, despite kncoking the fucking stumps over. This is the opposite of shoaib at kolkata, the exact diametrically idelogically opposite.
and now to Sohail.
i mean we adore bharham, as long as you back it up. It’s why in their hearts all pakistanis love kohli even if they wont admit it. Bharham = ego+brashness but it has to be backed up.
I mean if Sohail had missed, it would’ve been ok but he got his stumped splayed. That was our thing. It’s like the world giving an award for best rajnikanth impersonator to a person from Haryana
As Sohail’s stump was ripped out, i remember a rain of chappals falling on me. The 200 guys in the room aimed the chappals at Sohail on TV. So, there were guys in shorts and baniyans, beating the crap out of the TV with their chappals. it was such an emotionally charged moment. Adrenaline was through the roof. This is how mobs are formed and attack things and people. At the moment sohail got out, the 200 boys there could have killed someone.
SJ: Dodgy Mongia. Drops Inzi off Prasad.
AN: uff Ijaz you chutia. Still Pakistan in control
INZI YOU KUTTA. At least Prasad celebrated this time
Fucking Inzi, how many times did he get out like this. And his wicket goes with two going to skiers caught just outside the circle. I mean why are you still going for those shots and this is why btw pak don’t chase well. This helter skelter bullshit that india mastered at some point and the rest of the world, we are even worse now.
Set up for a Miandad classic still
SJ: We were confident but still afraid of the old foxes…Salim Satta and Javed.
AN: yes, and older fans than me on both sides felt he was going to do it.
Though the RR now dipping 50 off 83.
SJ: btw srt and jadeja bowled tight
AN: and Kumble fucks us
SJ: we see boundaries off srt and jadeja but satta and miandad slowed so much
AN: Rashid’s six is at a time where things looked gone but Pak were still trying to do this. two sixes by Latif. Imran’s drawl not doing them justice
SJ: IK says exact same things
AN: and he always sets his voice up as if he’s going to give you something very insightful
SJ: Thats a great shot by ____
AN: Huge six by ___.
AN: 60 to get now, 8 overs. this is happening
SJ: 5 wickets in hand
AN: FUCK, Raju of all people
SJ: MR MUSCLES!
AN: that was the KHI partnership that was going to take us. Mushie in next i mean its over
We’ve made, what, 148/7 in 33.2 overs since that start
SJ: At this point, we were still scarred from sharjah
AN: yes true
SJ: but when latif — who was taking more risks than miandad – got out, we believed india were home
yeah, 33 overs 150 but 7 wickets lost.
AN: i think it comes down to that Sohail v Prasad. Pakistan just lost it there
SJ: and India started believing
AN: also, how sad that this was how Javed’s career ended. I remember Ramchandaran Guha writing about how he was only person to get up to applaud him off
SJ: Miandad — the ultimate street smart cricketer. To see him look defeated… that was the seal of approval for us to begin celebrating
AN: in an indian stadium. in a way i bet miandad blames the cosmos and his destiny for his end to come this way
SJ: bizarre end to one of the great ODI players! slow innings, brought india back in to the game when SRT and Jadeja got away cheap
AN: well, this is the innings he plaued in the 1992 SF
SJ: questions of whether he should even have played in WC
AN: and Inzi blasted us through (92 SF). same in final but yeah him playing in that WC was wrong
SJ: sad to see it end like that but happy that it did
AN: damp squib of an end from here
SJ: and re: Kumble, best bowler india has had to tail enders
AN: and pakistani top iorders
SJ: he was our waqar/wasim. LOLOL
SJ: win by 39 runs
AN: that score rather that difference, so crucial… so telling.
The end of the two Ws untouchable era in a way and the end of the post-Imran promise
SJ: 38 off 50 and 38 off 65 for satta and javed
AN: Misbah and YK type feels in 2011
AN: SIdhu man of the match hahahahaha
SJ: How was Sidhu MoM?? So retarded
AN: oh man, wow. that was something. im proud of muself for getting through that.
SJ: hahaha. well done boy
AN: but that match basically reduces to 13 deliveries. 12 by Waqar, one by Prasad, rest of it was fluff
AN: This match is in the context of its time, an anamoly. The dreamworld of the #Mighty90sSide would continue after it and we would boss India as well but in the larger context, this is one of the most significant losses for us and it really made us realise that the WC was a diff beast. We lose our heads there to the pressure so much more often now and India has arguably improved from each encounter since then. I feel in 92 it was a no hoper meets no hoper and in 99 also, the trajectories were different but this was the biggest pressure match of the 90s, and India took it and i suppose i can never get over it. I find it interesting to view it with a certain detachment, but despite all this time, there is a dense sadness in me and i can’t believe that the 12 year old humiliated then still hasn’t gotten a WC win to cheer. Damn but an epic match, and a reminder why this rivalary is just so huge. It captures so so much and even without a pulsating finish this was an absolute mythical level battle.
SJ: This was absolutely huge match to show that we can beat Pak on the biggest stage but it made us think about winning the cup.. You know, having a once in a lifetime player like SRT, you thought this was the world cup he was gonna just do it. little did we know we will wait for another 15 years!
AN: LOL. thanks for this. lovely as always