A talking point that often comes up regarding the state of cricket is the balance between bat and ball.
On Sunday night I stayed awake until 3am EST to watch Bangladesh beat the mighty South Africans by 21 runs at The Oval, London.
Exciting until the end, but not exactly a cliffhanger! For real cliffhangers read my series highlighting today two of the 1987-88 Cricket World Cup matches in Pakistan and India.
Pakistan wins by one wicket off last ball thanks to Qadir’s final ball six
This thriller was played at Lahore, Pakistan, against the West Indies in 1987. The result was in doubt until the final delivery.
The West Indies started well with a 91-run opening partnership between Desmond Haynes and debutant Phil Simmons. The latter scored 50 runs off 57 balls hitting eight fours.
Skipper and master blaster Viv Richards scored 51. Opposing captain Imran Khan took 4 for 37 to restrict the Windies to 216 off 49.3 overs.
For Pakistan Rameez Raja and Javed Miandad added 64 for the third wicket. Salim Yousuf was lucky to survive three chances off three balls off medium pacer Eldine Baptiste (a world record in good luck?) and went on to top score in the match with 56 off 49 balls, hitting seven fours. With Imran he added 73 runs for the sixth wicket.
In the 49th over, fast bowler Patrick Patterson conceded only two runs and dismissed Wasim Akram. Then Tauseef Ahmed was run out.
Now to the suspenseful final over from Courtney Walsh. Windies needing one wicket, Pakistan 14 runs from tail-enders Abdul Qadir and Salim Jaffer. The suspense was as electrifying as an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
Walsh conceded 1, 1, 2, 6, 2 and 2 runs and Pakistan won off the last ball by one wicket – and a huge crowd in Lahore was in raptures. Thirteen of the 14 runs were hit by Qadir including the fourth ball six and the winning run.
Off the last ball Walsh could have run out Jaffer for backing up too soon and win the game for West Indies but he did not.
Salim Yousuf was made man of the match. Qadir, the real hero, “received a gift worth £20,000 from a very happy and wealthy businessman”, wrote Mark Browning from A Complete History of World Cup Cricket 1975 – 1999.
Steve Waugh behind a nail-biting victory for Australia at Indore in 1987
In another thriller, Australia defeated New Zealand by three runs off the last ball.
It had poured buckets and New Zealand management wanted the match to be abandoned but did not succeed. Winning the toss, New Zealand captain Jeff Crowe had no hesitation in sending Australia in to bat. Man of the match David Boon (87 runs off 96 balls) and Dean Jones (52) added 117 runs for the second wicket off 98 balls and Australia was 4 for 199 in 30 overs.
The Kiwi batsmen took up the challenge, John Wright and the classy batsman Martin Crowe inching towards victory. Then came the sensational last over with New Zealand needing only seven runs with four wickets in hand. It looked easy but was not so.
The final over was bowled by the “ice-man” Steve Waugh. Like against India ten days earlier he worked another miracle. Off the first ball he dismissed the well-set Martin Crowe, caught behind for 58.
The next ball he clean-bowled Ian Smith. He allowed only three singles and ran out Martin Snedden off the last ball. New Zealand ended at 9 for196 to lose by three runs. What a heart-stopper!
There were two more heart-stoppers as England beat West Indies by two wickets and Pakistan defeated West Indies by one wicket.
So read on Roarers, from the edge of your laptop table. More to come.