The basis for any cricket match is simple: the team that makes the most runs wins games.
With the three-match ODI series between hosts Zimbabwe and India underway on Saturday, let us go back in time to relive the most memorable ODI matches between the two nations.
Since their first meeting in the 1983 World Cup, the two teams have met each other in 60 ODIs, with India winning 48 times to Zimbabwe’s 10. Two matches have ended in a tie. 19 matches have been played in India, 20 in Zimbabwe and 21 at neutral venues. Here are the five best matches in chronological order:
Tunbridge Wells, 1983
Zimbabwe had proved to be a tough cookie in their maiden World Cup, having defeated Australia in their very first match. India had beaten them in the first round of the group stage, but this time there was the added pressure of a must-win game in order to remain in contention for the semifinals.
In the only international ever played at the picturesque Nevill Ground, Indian captain Kapil Dev elected to bat after winning the toss. The start for his team could not have been more disastrous as Peter Rawson removed Sunil Gavaskar off the second ball.
Things went from bad to worse as Rawson and fellow paceman Kevin Curran swung the ball around and made a mockery of India’s top order, reducing the score to a miserable 4/9 and then further to 5/17.
Kapil, who came out at number six, was joined by Roger Binny and the two put on 50 for the sixth wicket. However Binny and Ravi Shastri fell in quick succession as the score slid to 7/78.
Madan Lal shared a 62-run stand with Kapil for the eighth wicket as the Indian captain kept going in a free-flowing manner, as if batting on a different planet altogether. Syed Kirmani came in at number ten and what followed was one of the most sensational periods of ODI batting.
Kapil unleashed himself on the Zimbabwean bowlers, completely dominating an unbeaten 126-run ninth-wicket partnership – a record which stood for 27 years. It was a one-man show in the truest sense as Kirmani contributed only 24.
Kapil finished with a rampaging 175* from 138 balls with 16 fours and sixes, helping his team to 8/266 in 60 overs. It was then the highest individual score in a World Cup. Rawson and Curran took three wickets apiece.
Zimbabwean openers Robin Brown and Grant Paterson gave their team a good start by posting 44, but a combination of accurate bowling and quality fielding from the Indians ensured that the score slipped to 5/103. Curran (73) walked in at this stage and threatened to take the game away from India.
But the tail failed to support him and India tightened the screws. Kapil fittingly caught John Traicos off his own bowling to end Zimbabwe’s innings at 235 with three overs to spare. All the bowlers chipped in, with Madan (3/42) being the best of the lot.
Thanks to his stunning knock, Kapil had kept India alive and they would eventually go on to win the World Cup. Unfortunately there is no video footage of this extraordinary day as the BBC were on strike.
This thriller was part of the five-nation Hero Cup tournament played in Calcutta. Zimbabwe’s dynamic wicketkeeper-captain Andy Flower elected to field and David Brain provided an early breakthrough by removing Woorkeri Raman for nought.
Manoj Prabhakar and Vinod Kambli (55) then got together and put on 122 for the second wicket. Off-spinner Stephen Peall (3/54) evened things out with two wickets in as many balls, but Prabhakar (91) and captain Mohammed Azharuddin (54*) added a further 69 for the fourth wicket. Late hitting from Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar carried the total to 5/248.
The Indian pacemen tested the Zimbabwean top order as three wickets went down with 67 on the board. Captain Flower, who opened the innings, found support from Andy Waller and the duo stitched a 64-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Tendulkar accounted for Waller while Rajesh Chauhan captured the key wicket of Flower (56) who was stumped courtesy his off-spin. At 143/5, the contest was even and a close finish was expected. Guy Whittall and Ali Omarshah tilted the scales in Zimbabwe’s favour with an aggressive stand worth 64 for the sixth wicket, but Whittall’s run-out triggered a collapse of 3 for 5.
The tail hit around with intent and when Peall was ninth out to Javagal Srinath (3/44), 12 runs were still required. It all came down to the last over where ten runs were needed. Streak and John Rennie managed eight from the first five balls.
Streak scampered for a leg bye to level the scores off the final ball, but was run out going for the second run. The match was tied and points were shared. India went on to win the tournament, defeating the West Indies in the final.
The Indore result was repeated three years later in another multi-nation tournament, this time being a tri-series also involving hosts South Africa. Zimbabwean captain Alastair Campbell decided to bat but soon found his team on the back foot at 3/51.
Coming in at number five, Campbell (61) shared a partnership of 94 runs with Paul Strang (47). However India kept the runs in check with timely wickets before Craig Evans added meat to the total with 40 off 32 balls. Zimbabwe finished at 8/236.
Chicken farmer Eddo Brandes (5/41) gave his side a bright start with the ball as he sent back Sachin Tendulkar, Javagal Srinath and Mohammed Azharuddin to reduce India to 3/40. Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid attempted a revival but the asking rate was creeping up by the over.
At 5/110, Ajay Jadeja and Saba Karim came together and put on 56 before both were out within ten runs of each other. Robin Singh was however looking in good touch and he batted sensibly with the tail to give India a chance. Zimbabwe were favourites when India needed 25 in ten balls with two wickets left, but Singh’s aggression kept his side in the hunt.
It all came down to the last ball from which India needed two runs to win with a wicket in hand. Brandes was the bowler and he bowled it wide down the leg side. The batsmen started off for a bye, but Brandes ran out Singh (48 off 32 balls) at the non-striker’s end after the wicketkeeper missed the stumps at his end.
Amid the drama, Zimbabwe reckoned they had pulled off the win and started to celebrate, but the umpire had signalled the wide. The match was thus tied as India were bowled out with a ball to spare.
India had opened their World Cup campaign on a disappointing note with a defeat to South Africa. Four days later they faced Zimbabwe, who were coming off a win against Kenya. India’s star batsman Sachin Tendulkar missed this match as he had to rush to India to attend his father’s funeral.
After being put in by Mohammed Azharuddin, Zimbabwe lost Neil Johnson early to Javagal Srinath. India kept a lid on the scoring as Zimbabwe fell to 3/87 in the 22nd over. The Flower brothers Grant and Andy broke the shackles by adding 57 for the fourth wicket in ten overs.
Grant fell to Ajay Jadeja for 45 but Andy went on, putting on a further 60 for the fifth wicket with skipper Alastair Campbell. He remained unbeaten on 68, guiding Zimbabwe to 252/9. The total included a whopping 51 extras including as many as 21 wides.
India’s slow over-rate meant that they were docked four overs. Their target was now was 253 in 46 overs. The innings began with a healthy run rate but the Zimbabwean bowlers, led by Heath Streak (3/36) kept themselves in the hunt by picking regular wickets.
Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid as well as Azharuddin were all back in the hut by the tenth over with 56 runs on the board. Sadagopan Ramesh (55) and Jadeja (43) steadied the ship with a composed fourth-wicket stand worth 99. However within the next six overs, India lost three for 20 to slip to 175/6. The equation at this stage was 78 runs from 76 balls.
Robin Singh and Nayan Mongia rapidly added 44 for the seventh wicket before the former departed for 28 to Guy Whittall. 34 runs were now needed off five overs with three wickets standing. Srinath tonked a 12-ball 18 to put India ahead. With two overs to go, India were only nine runs away from victory. Henry Olonga was entrusted to bowl the penultimate over.
Two runs were scored from the first ball. Off the second ball, Olonga dismissed Singh for 35, caught at cover by Campbell. Three runs were scored off the third and fourth deliveries and India now needed four runs off eight balls. Would the match go into the last over?
Olonga (3/22) ensured it did not, as he castled Srinath and then had Venkatesh Prasad LBW the very next ball. India were bowled out for 249 and lost by three runs with a full over remaining. This defeat cost India as they crashed out after the super six round on account of not carrying forward any points from the group stage.
Douglas Marillier’s famous ‘Marillier Scoop’ sealed an unbelievable win for Zimbabwe in this first ODI of a five-match series in India. After Sourav Ganguly won the toss, India were served by fluent half centuries from Laxman (75) and the captain himself (57). The two put on 77 for the second wicket.
Zimbabwe pegged things back well as they limited the score to 6/211 in the 44th over, but Mohammed Kaif (39*) and Ajit Agarkar (40* off just 19 balls) blitzed an unbeaten stand of 63 from 38 balls to propel the total to 6/274.
In reply, Zimbabwe were in trouble at 21/2 in the fifth over with Zaheer Khan (4/47) crashing through the defences of Craig Wishart and Travis Friend. Veterans Alastair Campbell and Andy Flower stepped up to the task, sharing a stand of 111 for the third wicket before Flower fell for an attacking 71.
Zimbabwe were in the hunt at 186/3 but then they lost five for 24, including Campbell for 84, in less than eight overs to crash to 210/8. Enter Marillier, who immediately began to take charge. He repeatedly stepped across and dispatched the ball over the keeper’s head.
With 49 to win off 24 balls, Marillier collected 21 in an over from Zaheer, who had figures of 4/14 in eight overs until that point. The ninth wicket went with Zimbabwe still needing 23 to win off 14. But it was not a problem for Marillier, who took 13 more off Zaheer’s final over.
Ten were needed from the last over, to be bowled by Anil Kumble. Marillier began with a four to reach his fifty in only 21 balls before taking a single. Gary Brent smartly took another single off the third ball.
A dot ball followed, narrowing down the equation to four off two. Then the fifth ball (a no-ball) was top-edged over the keeper’s head for four to bring up an incredible one-wicket win. Marillier walked off the field unbeaten on 56 off 24 balls, laced with ten fours and a six.