KALLICHARRAN TAMES THE TIGER
Kennington Oval, London • 14 June 1975
The clash everyone looked forward to in the 1975 World Cup was the one between Australia and the West Indies. They were the best teams at the time and were battling hard to gain the initiative in Group B. Both sides had impressive bowling line-ups, and the batsmen found runs hard to come by. That was till Alvin Kallicharran strode into the arena.
The pacemen had enjoyed themselves for much of the Australian innings. Rick McCosker went to the third ball of the day, caught off his gloves at backward short-leg as a Bernard Julien snorter took off from a length. Soon Andy Roberts and Keith Boyce got among the wickets, and Australia slid to 61 for five. Ross Edwards, showing fine form, and Rodney Marsh arrested the slide with a 99-run partnership, but all that the Aussies could manage was 192 in 53.4 overs.
The West Indies lost Gordon Greenidge at 29, and that was when Kallicharran took over the match. Kallicharran is Rohan Kanhai's cousin, and was often dubbed as the left-handed version of the former captain. Both diminutive and superb strokemakers, they could be astonishing on their day. Kallicharran also possesses an effervescent outgoing personality, and was always a likely candidate to be a crowd favourite.
Kallicharran's silken smooth strokes were in evidence right from the start. The elegant left-hander took the attack to the Aussies. He was particularly severe on Dennis 'Tiger' Lillee. The great paceman was left bewildered as he had rarely been treated with such disdain. As Kallicharran waded into him, Lillee bowled faster, only to be hit harder by the little man.
He brought the house down in the 31st over, hammering four fours off a fuming Lillee. In his next over Kallicharran hit a huge six high up above long-leg. In an exhilarating sequence, Kallicharran smashed 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.0.4 – 35 runs off 10 deliveries from the paceman. Lillee was at his wits' end. When he pitched up, Kallicharran was on to it like lightning and driving through the covers. If he tried to bounce, Kalli would hook fiercely. To use Dennis Compton's words: "The short-pitched balls held no terrors for the West Indian. He got on to the back foot and right behind the line and hooked them mercilessly".
Kallicharran raced to 78 off 83 balls with 14 fours and a six in an hour and three-quarters. He had put on 124 for the second wicket with Roy Fredericks when he finally mishooked a bumper from Lillee and was caught at mid-wicket. Lillee eventually had his revenge but it was too late as the West Indies were already on the road to victory, and his own analysis in shambles. Fredericks fell soon after but Vivian Richards and Kanhai saw the side to victory. Lillee finished with one for 66 off 10 overs.
It was a brilliant display by Kallicharran, worth going miles to see. Those who saw it or heard about it on the radio, shall never forget the excitement.
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email email@example.com).
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011
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