Cricket is an amazing game. After one Test it seemed certain that these Ashes would be the Summer of Steve. With just a few hours of the second Test remaining, Jofra Archer was set to be anointed 2019’s Supreme Being.
The first few matches of the 2019 Cricket World Cup have been one-sided, so let’s go back memory lane and revisit two more thrill-packed CWC encounters in this ongoing series. I hope you Roarers are enjoying it.
England defeats West Indies by a whisker at Gujranwala in 1987
There was another fluctuating match in 1987 with the result in doubt until the final pulsating over.
Sent in to bat, the West Indies made seven for 243, Richie Richardson (53 runs) and Jeff Dujon (46) adding 83 runs for the fifth wicket. Then Gus Logie scored 49. England’s medium-pacer Neil Foster was the most effective bowler taking three for 53.
England’s opening batsman, Graham Gooch, made 47, but wickets toppled at the other end against the off-spin of Carl Hooper. Then Allan Lamb played a cavalier knock of 67 not out with five fours and a six.
England needed 91 runs to win in the last ten overs with Lamb the only recognised batsman left. The target remained just as daunting with 34 required in the last four overs. Cool and calm, Lamb collected 15 runs from over 48, bowled by speedster Courtney Walsh. Another quickie, Patrick Patterson, conceded only five runs in the 49th over.
It came down to this, 14 runs needed from the last over. Man of the match Lamb hit fours off the first two balls from Walsh. Then there were four wides off the third ball followed by a single off a no ball before Neil Foster hit the winning four as England won by two wickets.
The Windies badly missed their express bowlers Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner, especially at the end. Walsh, who had conceded 29 runs from his last nine balls, was distraught and devastated.
Man of the match Lamb said after the narrow win, “It was absolutely boiling in the middle. When we came off I was completely dehydrated and had to replenish with a lot of liquids. Once back in the dressing room I just sat in the bathroom and they kept pouring cold water over me”.
So close was the victory by England that Nagraj Gollapudi of ESPNcricinfo summed up the match as, “Lamb’s Gujranwala jail break!”. Next day I had headlined my story in Sportsweek (India), ‘Lamb not to the slaughter’.
Zimbabwe beaten by Kiwis by three runs at Hyderabad, 1987
The 1987-88 World Cup was only two days old and three cliffhangers were contested on 9 and 10 October 1987.
New Zealand’s top three batsmen played confidently to take the score to one for 143, Martin Snedden (64 runs) adding 59 runs with John Wright (17) for the first wicket and 84 for the second wicket with Martin Crowe (72). But they could not keep up the tempo and totalled seven for 242.
Zimbabwe appeared all but gone at seven for 104. Just then No. 9 batsman Iain ‘Butchy’ Butchart joined wicketkeeper-batsman Dave Houghton and they doubled the score.
Houghton hit a magnificent 142 off 137 balls, a strike rate of 103.64, smashing 13 fours and six sixes. He added 117 with Butchart (54 run out) for the eighth wicket before being caught spectacularly by Martin Crowe. This catch was hailed as the catch of this World Cup.
In a climax watched by about 30,000 people Zimbabwe needed six runs in the final over, but left-arm spinner Stephen Boock conceded only two and New Zealand won by three runs with two balls remaining.
Man of the match Houghton recalled his partner’s huge six tongue-in-cheek, “Butchart had hit one straight out of Hyderabad, and I don’t know what the next city is, but it landed quite close to it!”.
Houghton explained what the inspiration behind his fours and sixes was: he was perspiring profusely, losing a few kilograms in weight, and he couldn’t drink water or run, so he smacked fours and sixes instead!
More World Cup thrillers will follow in the next few days.