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The greatest game of them all

That's easy - that one where India won. Oh wait…

Sidin Vadukut

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Ricky Ponting will have to pick up his side after their astounding defeat in Johannesburg
The finest ODI ever. Definitely maybe © Getty Images
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Teams: India

As one of the world's leading cricket writers from a southern Indian state on ESPNcricinfo's Page 2 section, I am often approached by cricket fans for my views on several aspects of this sport. They want to know what my opinions are on various players, various teams, various formats, various cricket boards, and on the state of the international sport in general. And most of the time I am more than happy to spend time with fans and share my thoughts with them in detail, in exchange for modest considerations in cash or kind.

However, of all the questions I am asked, the most popular by far is:

"So Cricinfo is letting anybody and their father write for them, is it, saala !@£$^%%!^@?"

The next most popular question is:

"What is your favourite cricket match of all time?"

This is both an exciting and a frustrating question. This is exciting because it really makes me wonder what aspects of this great game I hold dearest and touch me most deeply - namely Preity Zinta.

At the same time it is frustrating because how do you choose a great cricket match from the long list of over 11,000 international cricket matches that have taken place in history so far, mostly between India and Sri Lanka? The smorgasbord of cricketing delights that forms the archive of this sport is so replete with delicious morsels of achievement and excitement that choosing just one is such sweet, sweet sorrow.

But let me try. First of all we need to narrow down the list of good games to great games. I shall do this by focusing only on the games India have won.

Now that I have surveyed this list, I have no doubt in my mind that my favourite cricket match of all time is the India-Sri Lanka match that took place at the 1999 World Cup in Taunton.

This was a match that went exactly according to every real Indian cricket fan's hopes. India batted first and an unnecessary distraction in the form of Sadagoppan Ramesh got out on the fifth ball of the innings, even before Indian fans at the stadium had had a chance to remove smuggled food items from inside their underclothes.

Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly then went on to put up a gazillion-run partnership that I believe is still going on in Taunton. Most of all I will never forget an exquisite punch shot through midwicket by Sourav Gang...

Wait.

I am so sorry. I got my shots mixed up. My favourite game of all time is actually the India-Pakistan match at the 2003 World Cup in which Saeed Anwar scored a defiant 101 runs off 126 balls*. India won this match thanks to a superb batting effort, but I will always remember it for that scintillating Saeed Anwar special. He hit a punch through midwicket where his bat hardly ever deviated from the vertical position. It was a shot sculpted out of air, willow and leather by a master craftsman with a laser cutting machine. The ball almost glided on a blanket of air to the Centurion bounda...

Wait. I think I have made a mistake.

Now I remember. My favourite game of all time was in South Africa, but not in Centurion. In fact, I meant to refer to the superb match between South Africa and Australia at the Wanderers in Johannesburg in March 2006. It was the fifth ODI of the Australia tour of South Africa and it broke almost every record in cricket, except the one held by Arjuna Ranatunga for "the largest in post-war cricketing history".

As all cricket fans know by heart, Australia scored a massive 434 runs in their designated 50 overs. Only to see the South Africans overtake the score with one ball to spare. For everybody everywhere in the world, except some Pakistanis, this result was absolutely unexpected.

This is why the Australia versus South Africa ODI of March 2006 is my choice for greatest cricketing match of all time. I will never forget it till my dying day.

Wait...

* February 11 6.30pm GMT This article had been incorrect on the number of deliveries Saeed Anwar faced

Sidin Vadukut is a columnist and editor with Mint, and the author of the Dork trilogy. Who Let the Dork Out? released in October

Tell us what you think. Send us your feedback

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Comments: 12 
Posted by Photoelectric on (February 12, 2013, 5:36 GMT)

A very good read! I must ask though, have you thought about or have you done one with your worst cricket games? Oh there sure have been some terrible ones.

Posted by sandeep1978 on (February 12, 2013, 5:01 GMT)

The early part of the article does seem a lot like Dave barry. Maybe it is Dhave bhari ?

Posted by xylo on (February 11, 2013, 18:21 GMT)

Oh good lord... Why do people expect a Page 2 article to be accurate!! Not used to satire, are we?

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 10:51 GMT)

Funny, but not original. The style is greatly inspired by Dave Barry.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

I watched that match with 2 bottles of bells by my side. At the break I still said to friends at the indoor cricket arena that only gibbs can match the ausies shot for shot, little did I know that he would score that brilliant innings that day. After the match I had made such a lot of friends and we all celebrated the win. I even forgot about my man of the match performance. I still have my trophy somewere. How did I get home again. God knows but what a match.

Posted by almeda_riddle on (February 11, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

Great article, you're rivalling Andy Zaltzman in the humour stakes.

As for people posting about the number of balls Anwar faced... yawn. Didn't care about the first correction and not sure why others need to say the same thing.

Posted by him18july on (February 11, 2013, 10:07 GMT)

"For everybody everywhere in the world, except some Pakistanis, this result was absolutely unexpected."

Hahaha, hilarious... :D

Posted by babubhaiyya on (February 11, 2013, 10:05 GMT)

Saeed Anwar's 100 was of 126 balls . . . he was there for 174 minutes . . . .

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 9:55 GMT)

yes... it is the greatest ODI of all time...

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 8:31 GMT)

everybody is so concerned about india that every record should belong to india there are other countries that are playing cricket too.

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Sidin Vadukut
Sidin Vadukut has been writing extensively about cricket since he started writing this column for ESPNcricinfo. He comes from a family of footballers, who all nurture virulent hate for cricket in general and Basit Ali in particular. Vadukut is the author of the Dork trilogy of office-culture humour novels. By day he is a columnist and editor with business daily Mint. At night, depending on when he gets off work, he goes home or fights crime. His favourite cricketer is Saeed Anwar. By which he means Sachin Tendulkar. Jai Hind.

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Sidin Vadukut has been writing extensively about cricket since he started writing this column for ESPNcricinfo. He comes from a family of footballers, who all nurture virulent hate for cricket in general and Basit Ali in particular. Vadukut is the author of the Dork trilogy of office-culture humour novels. By day he is a columnist and editor with business daily Mint. At night, depending on when he gets off work, he goes home or fights crime. His favourite cricketer is Saeed Anwar. By which he means Sachin Tendulkar. Jai Hind.
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