The game of cricket has produced many memorable moments. Some were chracterized by a sudden burst of energy, while others were culmination of days, weeks, or even years of hard work. Improbable, unbelievable, astounding, breathtaking - These are few of the adjectives you will recall when you go through the following list.
Jonty Rhodes – Airborne
It was March 8, 1992 and South Africa had been bundled out for a paltry 211. But they came out to field knowing that they have one of the best bowling units in the world. Because of rain, the target was reduced to 194 in 36 overs. Inzamam Ul Haq and captain Imran Khan were pulling Pakistan towards the revised total when Jonty Rhodes pulled off a sensational run out. Inzamam was on 48 when he flicked the ball from outside off stump and immediately barrelled towards the other side. Imran waved him back furiously, but it was too late. Rhodes charged from point with the ball in hand and literally flew to knock off the stumps. South Africa won that match by 20 runs, however Pakistan went on to win the World Cup.
Tied Test – India vs Australia
Almost 30,000 spectators had gathered in the Chidambaram stadium to watch the Test match between India and Australia. The latter were favourites to win the Test match. But the end result was unique and so was the run up to it. Surprisingly, Australia declared the second innings at 170/5 having already made 574 in the first. This meant that India had a target of 348 to win the match. They got off to a decent start with the score at one point reading 193/2. But then, Gavaskar and Kapil fell in the space of 2 runs. Azharuddin and Pandit chipped in with useful contributions, but the scoreboard eventually read 331/6. The lower order collapsed like a pack of cards and India needed 4 runs from the last 6 balls. Maninder Singh and Ravi Shastri were at the crease. By the 2nd ball, 3 runs had already been taken. But it was the relatively inexperienced Maninder Singh on strike. After 2 dot balls, Singh was caught leg before wicket and the scores were tied. Thus ended the second tied match in Test History.
Yuvraj Singh’s 6 sixes
Going into the T20 World Cup, Yuvraj Singh was in sublime form for India. In a match against England, Yuvraj did the unthinkable. Andrew Flintoff had hurled some comments at Yuvraj, when he walked on to the pitch with the scorecard reading 155/3. What came next was enough to knock Flintoff out cold. Yuvraj bludgeoned a young Stuart Broad for 6 sixes in an over. With each six that flew off his bat, the colour slowly drained from Flintoff’s face. He went on to make the fastest 50 in all forms of cricket – in 12 balls.
Lasith Malinga vs South Africa
Since his debut, Lasith Malinga has always been the most potent weapon Sri Lankans could wield against other team. He proved his mettle in a crucial Super 8 match against South Africa. Sri Lanka were staring at defeat as the South Africans needed just 10 from 36 balls. Kallis was well settled on 85 and Shaun Pollock was at the other end. Pollock was able to manage 6 runs from the next 4 balls. South Africa needed 4 runs to win with 32 balls and 5 wickets remaining. What happened next can only be called a tragedy. In the last two balls of the 45th over, Malinga got two wickets. Chaminda Vaas then bowled a tight 46th over, giving way just one run. Malinga returned in the next over and sent Kallis back to the pavilion in the very first ball. Makhaya Ntini followed him back after the second ball. Malinga’s bowling figures till then read, 4/4. Now it was South Africa’s turn to look down the barrel as Chaminda Vaas bowled a maiden 48th over. Lasith Malinga almost won it for Sri Lanka, but a thick edge off Peterson’s bat in the second ball of the 49th over raced to the boundary. The world thus witnessed one of the greatest bowling spells in history.
Australia vs South Africa – 1999 World Cup Semi Final
In the Semi Final, South Africans were asked to chase a total of 213. They got off to a decent start; but, as the innings reached its later stage, South Africa began to lose their rhythm. Rhodes, Pollock and Boucher ensured that victory was within touching distance and the equation was 9 runs of the last over. Lance Klusner and Allan Donald were at the crease. The former dispatched the first two balls towards the boundary. Now a single run kept South Africa from reaching their maiden World Cup Final. In the 4th ball, Klusener mishit the ball towards Mark Waugh at mid-off. Donald wasn’t looking at his partner and by the time he started to run it was too late. He was run out and the match was tied. But Australia went through, having finished above South Africa in the Super Sixes.
Shane Warne vs England (Magic Ball)
The year was 1993 and it was time for the Ashes to begin. Critics and pundits were doing their job - analysing teams, their potential etc. Most labelled England as favourites. They believed that Tim May and the rookie Shane Warne didn’t have enough exposure to rattle the English. The cricketing world also thought that the whole thing would be a cakewalk for England. Well, they thought wrong. The highlight of the series was Shane Warne’s magic ball which castled Mike Gatting. Steven Lynch who was deputy Editor of the Wisden Cricket Monthly recalled the incident, "He shuffled up: unprepossessing three- or four-pace run-up, nice sideways position, right arm snapping over in an exciting whirl. As the ball looped down, my first feeling was one of disappointment: it was headed down the leg side, a harmless start. Gatting obviously thought so too, and stretched forward slightly without quite getting to the pitch. The ball drifted even further down leg... and then it hit the turf. It fizzed back across Gatting - no mean feat - and clipped the top of off stump.” Richie Benaud’s television commentary brilliantly concluded it, ‘Gatting has absolutely no idea what has happened to him — and he still doesn’t know.’
Sachin Tendulkar vs Shane Warne
Sachin Tendulkar contributed immensely to his team and rose to the occasion, whenever needed. This particular innings was dubbed ‘Desert Storm’. Australia had set a mighty target of 285 for Indian which was reduced to 276 due to an actual desert storm. India needed 237 to qualify for the Coca Cola Cup Final. The cricketing fraternity watched on eagerly for the much awaited clash between the World’s best batsmen and spinner – Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne. The pitch may have slightly favoured Warne, but it made no difference. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar began to whack the ball around the park. Warne looked more and more clueless as time passed. This was the beginning of Warne’s greatest nightmare in his 14 year career. Sachin went on to make 143 in 131 balls, but India lost the match. However, they qualified for the final and won the Coca Cola Cup.
MS Dhoni’s World Cup winning six
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. MS Dhoni played a swashbuckling innings of 91 off 79 to end India’s 28 year wait for a World Cup. But this win wasn’t easy. Dhoni promoted himself up the order and entered the pitch when India were 3 wickets down at 114. Initially, the captain played cool and ran furiously between the wickets. Slowly, he upped the tempo and in the end India needed 5 runs to win from 12 balls. After Yuvraj put Dhoni back on strike, Dhoni cleared the ball over the boundary and gifted India its second World Cup and Sachin Tendulkar, his first.
Javed Miandad’s six vs India
Sharjah was again host to one of the greatest rivalries in cricket – an Indo-Pak match. Pakistan needed 4 runs to win on the last ball. The Indian captain Kapil Dev corked all gaps in the field to prevent a boundary and finally gave a pep talk to the young bowler Chetan Sharma who was chosen for his pace and swing. The inexperienced and over excited Sharma gifted Miandad a full toss which was pulled off over midwicket and into the sky. Green flags began to dominate proceedings while another part of the stadium was dumbstruck at the eventual result.
Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th ton
Breaking records was never a priority for Sachin. It just…happened to him as he played his usual game. But, there was always the talk of his 100th hundred . He reached this spectacular milestone on March 16, 2012. The century came against Bangladesh. But Sachin didn’t celebrate extravagantly on the field. He took off his helmet, looked up at the sky, flourished his bat, and acknowledged his teammates. The 138 ball century had taken more than a year to materialise.