JUST A RUN AGAIN BETWEEN TWO OLD CHAMPIONS
Australia v India • Woolloongabba, Brisbane,
1 March 1992
1 March 1992
The winners of the last two World Cups did not begin the present tournament on a happy note. Australia, who started as one of the fancied teams, were beaten by New Zealand and South Africa to the dismay of the home crowds. India lost narrowly to England, and a supposedly easy match against Sri Lanka was washed out.
Both teams were, therefore, eager to register a win at the Gabba. The Australians elected to bat. But they were jolted by Kapil Dev as he removed both openers Geoff Marsh and Mark Taylor with just 31 on the board. David Boon and Dean Jones settled down to a fine partnership. They added 71 for the third wicket. Jones hit a typical 90 off 108 balls, characterised by hard running and flashing shots. He crashed 6 fours and 2 sixes. He explained his approach: "I try to come across as a player who enjoys the game and has a good time. The kids who see that will want to play the game as well. If you are full-on aggressive it gets through to people." Steve Waugh and Tom Moody also made valuable contributions. Then the Indian medium-pacers led by Manoj Prabhakar got into the swing of things. From 230 for five, Australia slumped to 237 for nine at the end of their 50 overs.
It was then that a flawed rule regarding interruption of play by rain began to cast a shadow over the tournament. As the weather gods intervened, three overs were lopped off the Indian innings, but the target score was reduced by only two runs. The reasoning behind this absurd rule was that while deducting the number of overs, the ones to be taken into account were those in which the team batting first had scored the least number of runs. So going through the scoring pattern of the Aussies it was found that in the three overs that they had scored the least, a sum total of two runs had accrued. This rule was to provoke much derisive laughter and anguish later in the tournament. Conventional logic, taking average scoring-rate into consideration, would have reduced India’s target to 224. But now India's target was 236 off 47 overs.
India made a dismal start as Krish Srikkanth was bowled for a duck. But skipper Mohammad Azharuddin was in prime form. On either side of the rain break, he was helped by Ravi Shastri and Sachin Tendulkar in rebuilding the innings. Kapil Dev, promoted up the order, scored a quick-fire 21. Then Sanjay Manjrekar joined his captain, and the two put on 66 for the fifth wicket.
Azharuddin was run out for a brilliant 93 off 103 balls with ten boundaries. Then the Indian innings began to come unstuck. Ajay Jadeja went for one, and Manjrekar too was run out for 47 off 42 balls with 3 fours and a six. India needed 13 off the final over with three wickets in hand. Strangely, the 6 feet 8 inches non-regular bowler Tom Moody sent down the pulsating last over. Kiran More flicked the first two balls to square-leg for fours. Now five runs were required off four deliveries. More got carried away, missed, and his middle stump broke into two. A single was scampered off the fourth ball. But Prabhakar was run out off the fifth.
Four runs were needed off the last ball. Javagal Srinath swung hard and high but straight to Steve Waugh who dropped the catch. But he recovered quickly and threw the ball back. Venkatapathy Raju was going for the run that would have tied the scores. The throw beat him and Australia won a dramatic match by one run. For the second time in the World Cup, Australia pipped India by this razor-thin margin.
Australia : 237 for 9 wickets (50 overs)
India : 234 all out (47 overs)
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email email@example.com).
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