Yorkers for Sixers & Prasad’s Anger

As I look back on 2 decades buying essays online of watching cricket, some matches stand out etched in my memory. Not entire matches, often not scores or statistics – I’m not that kind of fan. Ask me cialis super active how much Kambli made against Sri Lanka in the 96 World Cup semi final and I’ll probably get it wrong. But I’ll never forget my heart wrenching as he walked off crying, and then my blood boiling with rage as my cousin remarked – ‘laaj waatli shevti tyala’ (Finally he’s ashamed of himself). Yeah, I’m that kind of fan.

So when I sat down to write something about cricket, it had to be about memory – nay a collection of memories. Many occasions carefully stashed away in my mind and heart, full of remembered events and emotions.

The memories will not always be accurate. I will not research and will stay away from data. If after reading this you should remember more things about the same match, or remember same instances, or remember them differently, please let me know! Your comments are welcome. However, if you go through statistics (or indeed if you’re THAT kind of cricket fan) and find that some of my memories are in fact wrong – don’t let me know. My memories are precious to me, and based on an interpretation of events. If I remember a cracking pull shot, please don’t watch the video on Youtube and tell me it was a mistimed ugly hoik. You get the picture.

So what do we have today?

The 1996 World Cup Quarter Final

India playing Pakistan. In India. NOT on a Friday (in those days this mattered a lot for some reason, since all finals in Sharjah, including the ‘Chetan Sharma final’, were played on Fridays). I’d bunked college – I was in my first year of medical school, and stayed in the hostel. For such special events though, I would rush home. A special cricket match had to be watched with family, and ‘building-friends’. My new found ‘cool’ mates in Medical school were awesome for Pink Floyd and Ayn Rand discussions, but my heart always ached for the guys I grew up with when I was fuming at a fielder or delirious about a delivery (alliteration not intended)

So here I was, home on a Saturday (not sure of the day actually. Here’s an example of what not to research and point out). All set 30 minutes before the first ball would be bowled in the afternoon, discussions on who would make afternoon tea over (since no one wanted to miss an over), fights over seats settled, curtains drawn, volume on full blast. The house was packed with family, and friends.

And then, Imran Khan began to whine.

Here are my top 10 memories of that day

1)     Imran Khan whining – I had never before (and I’m glad to say very rarely after) heard Imran Khan commentate. The man started the day responding to something like ‘how do you like it here in Bangalore’ with a ‘I am deeply disappointed with Pakistan’s defensive mindset’. He repeated that every 4 overs. Apart from praising Rashid Latif later on (see memory 9), all he did was whine. And he kept talking about how, in the absence of Wasim Akram (who didn’t play this match) they should have picked this world class off-spinner who’s an attacking bowler and a genius. Imran came across as an idiot, because this bowler was 19, uncapped in any form of international cricket, and basically no one had heard of him. I wasn’t laughing at Imran 3 years later on that one! He was talking of Saqlain Mushtaq, the guy who invented the ‘Doosra’

2)     Sidhu’s shots in a long innings – 90 some? Oh, how I loved that man. I’d never heard him speak then, of course. As a kid, I was sickly thin – so when I got into fights (occasionally), I would have to muster every ounce of rage in my body, focus it into the bicep of my right hand and swing from the hips to register anything on my opponents face. Watching Sidhu bat, was like that. This innings was typical. Strenuous drives to mid-wicket, one six over long off with a swing from shoulder to shoulder, frenetic (but slowwww) running between the wickets. Later, I was to find out this guy beat up a man to death in a parking lot in Punjab with a stick. Hmm…

3)     Sachin playing on – Waqar Younis, it was. A short of good length ball, hurrying on, Sachin standing tall on his toes to play his trademark backfoot cover drive. Except the ball came in, and he played on with an angled bat. Heart break. Disgust. For the next 15 minutes half the audience in my house was distracted, 3 friends went downstairs for a smoke, my dad went in and made tea, my mom declared we were losing and went in for a nap. Yep, that’s our God alright

4)     Kambli’s cover drive – Kambleeeeee Kambli! Let no one forget that this chant (a Mumbai chant) was invented for Vinod Kambli, and at the Wankhede. It wasn’t Indyaaaa India! It wasn’t Sacheeeeen, Sachin! It wasn’t Kumblaaaay Kumble! It was Kambleeee Kambli! (One other example of what not to correct me on). But I digress. Kambli played an outstanding on his toes flowing graceful cover drive to – mmm – I think Ata-Ur-Rehman, This shot, and his pull off Curtly Ambrose were to me, the shots of the world cup.

5)     Kumble’s shot off Waqar – and Tony Greg’s commentary. So Greggy goes – Get Ready for a Waqar Yorker, Anil. He’s SMASHED it! The leggie’s hit the Yorker fo-FOOOEEE.. What a Playa! What a terrific playa!

6)     Jadeja’s 2 sixes. HE HIT A YORKER FOR A SIX! I’d never imagined that possible. He also smashed a good length ball (also from Waqar) over long off with a top spin forehand for six, but the scoop over mid wicket will never be forgotten. Everyone was standing. I was jumping. ‘Ball Kuthe Gela?’ yelled my father. ‘B…C….’ yelled my friend. No one noticed (thank God). ‘Khodun Kadhla! Six!!’ I was yelling too. Translation would be superfluous. Our man made 45 off 25 balls. Greggie went ballistic again.

So yeah – we hit 287. In those days a winning score. Everyone was confident. And then..

7)     Saeed Anwar’s timing and top spun shots. Man, this guy could bat. His shots were spine chillingly well timed. And he had a curious twirl of the wrists on off-side (yes, off-side) shots, which made watching him a delight. Except the heart would sink. He played a special innings that day. Thank god it didn’t last

8)     Angry Venky!! – The second moment of the match for me. I am sure all of you remember this. Aamir marched down the wicket and square cut a poor ball from Venky for four. Venky went timidly back and bowled a slow (not slower, just slow) ball on good length, hitting top of off. Straight ball. Aamir bhai missed it. Stumps in disarray. Bedlam. Venky goes ‘F –off, F- off’. Hahaaa, it was so funny seeing our ‘Gauuu’ in anger.

9)     Rashid Latif’s humungous hits – he came in to bat somewhere near the end, and unleashed 2 or 3 monstrous sixes. Crowd was silenced, we were scared. Very scared. My mom reminded us that we were going to lose, and she had said so when Sachin had played on 6 hours ago. ‘Ugich wel waya ghalavala’ (You wasted your time unnecessarily) Aso (So be it)

10)Kumble’s toe crusher > Waqar’s toe crusher. IN YOUR FACE GREGGIE! 4 hours after Greggie was warning Kumble to be ready for Waqar’s Yorker, Jumbo delivered a toe crusher of his own! I forget the batsman. Plumb LBW.

I don’t remember the winning moment. Funny.

This match ended with me and my friends going downstairs to celebrate. Much mirth. Someone actually had a dhol! Aah, yeah.

2 things happened later which come to mind too. One, Akram’s house was damaged as angry mobs in Pakistan attacked it. Second, I came to think of this match as the last one where Steve Bucknor was fair to the Indians (he gave 2 LBW decisions) and didn’t show disrespect. I wonder whether something happened here. We shall never know.

We lost the next match of course. But that’s for another day.

(Images courtsey : Rediff.com and Indiatimes.com)
About Mandar:
Mandar started playing cricket when he was 10. He started watching/hearing the game in earnest when he was 14. On the playing field, he barely graduated to the leather ball, but with the rubber ball, was a master tactician, no. 6 batsman and no. 5 bowler for his team. His friend once described his bowling as ‘doesn’t spin enough to be a spinner, isnt fast enough to be a fast bowler, but somehow irritatingly difficult to hit’. He’s much better at watching the game though, and over the years has developed what he believes is an uncanny knack of predicting immediate events in live situations. Mandar enjoys entertaining his friends, much of which is via conversations – and given his love for cricket, ever so often these conversations are about the game. His posts here will capture some of these for you! Enjoy..