This, that and the other. Mostly the other
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...
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.
* 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
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