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Thrill-seekers

Javed Miandad celebrates ESPNcricinfo Ltd

AustralAsia Cup final, Sharjah, 1986

This is the moment that fans from both countries recall whenever the two teams meet in one-day cricket: four required by Pakistan from the last ball of the final of the AustralAsia Cup, and Miandad swinging Chetan Sharma over the ropes.

Javed Miandad
The Indians were together, excitedly talking strategy. The whole contest had been reduced to getting four from the last ball. I came up with my own strategy. I was certain Chetan Sharma was going to attempt a Yorker, and aim for my legs. So I decided to stand well forward of the batting crease. My plan was to lean back, make room for myself and give it everything I had.

It was going to be a slog. I was not out on 110 from 113 deliveries and was seeing the ball extremely well. I had confidence that if the ball came on to the bat, it would reach the boundary. I surveyed the field again. I knew exactly where every fielder was, but still I took another look around, counting off the fielders one by one. Nothing was going to be left to chance. I took my time, calmed my nerves, settled into my stance, and said a prayer.

Poor Chetan Sharma. They say he did try for a yorker, but the ball slipped out of his hand. Or perhaps it was the fact that I was standing well forward of the batting crease that threw him off his length. Whatever the mysterious origins of that last delivery, it ended up being the perfect ball for me and for Pakistan - a full-toss at the right height, slightly towards leg, all I had to do was take a swing and it sailed out of the ground.

After that, it was pandemonium. We had won, Pakistan had won, Tauseef had won, I had won. What a match! It is one of the best memories of my life.

This passage is excerpted from Cutting Edge: My Autobiography by Javed Miandad, Oxford University Press, 2003

Chandrakant Pandit
I remember almost everyone came up to the pitch to discuss who should bowl the last over. We finally decided that Chetan's extra pace and swing would prevent the batsmen from getting the runs. Tauseef Ahmed walked in and I heard Javed telling him: "Whatever happens, we have to run. Hit or miss ... just run." The entire over was chaotic. Javed kept swinging wildly, and Mohammad Azharuddin missed a simple run-out. On the second-last ball, Javed got an inside edge and Roger Binny pulled off a superb stop down at short fine leg.

They needed four to win off the last ball. I still remember how Javed looked up at the sky and prayed to Allah.

Chetan's plan was to bowl a yorker but it was a waist-high full-toss. None of us expected Javed to hit it out of the ground.

And then we all felt a sort of blackout. It was like a funeral in the dressing room afterwards. Chetan was on the floor. None of us knew what to do for nearly an hour. Nobody looked at anyone; we all just sat with our chins down, thinking about the possibilities. We could hear the celebrations outside but it was extremely depressing inside.

Second ODI, Kolkata, 1987

At Kolkata in 1987, India breathed a sigh of relief when they dismissed Miandad cheaply during another Pakistan run-chase. But like a bolt from the blue came Saleem Malik, who smashed 72 from 36 balls from No. 7 and shepherded the tailenders past the target.

Chandrakant Pandit
Saleem Malik came in with around eight overs remaining and the asking-rate at around eight an over. To add to it, he lost Imran Khan soon, and there weren't many others left to lend him a hand. Maninder Singh had enough overs left and was bowling to Malik on middle and leg, trying to make him play to the on-side, and not give away many runs. But Malik started sweeping it very fine and got quite a few runs that way.

"I surveyed the field again. I knew exactly where every fielder was, but still I took another look around, counting off the fielders one by one. Nothing was going to be left to chance. I took my time, calmed my nerves, settled into my stance, and said a prayer" What went through Miandad's head before that six

Ravi Shastri and Lalchand Rajput were operating from the other end, and Malik was middling everything he faced from them. He was so calculating, nicely picking gaps for his singles, hitting boundaries mainly between square leg and midwicket, and taking last-ball singles to retain the strike. Eden Gardens was reverberating with nervous energy. India were on top most of the time, but slowly, without our knowing it, Malik had taken the game away. We knew he was the danger man, but we couldn't keep him off strike. Maninder was trying to get him out by trying to beat him in the flight. But Malik picked everything so well that he easily pierced the five-man leg-side field.

Unfortunately for Maninder, I missed stumping Malik when he had made 30-odd. It was an armer and Malik, going for the on-drive went onto the front foot and missed. The ball went off my gloves, and he got his foot back in time. You could say we lost the match there.

Ramiz Raja
When Malik came in at 161 for 5, we didn't really think we had a chance - we needed about 80 runs still and there were no batsmen left apart from him. In those days, that sort of run-rate was considered impossible to achieve - we needed six an over at the start, which was high, and then when he came in, it was about eight or nine.

We only thought we were in with a chance with about four overs to go, and in particular after Malik blasted Kapil Dev for five fours in an over. He square-drove him, hit him over fine leg, and through third man. Their field placings were just following the ball after that. Those boundaries were part of seven he hit in a row. All India needed to do was control the boundaries. They had a fairly decent attack with Maninder and Roger Binny. But they couldn't. Malik seemed in complete control of the situation. And he did it single-handed.

He won it with another drive, typically wristy, through cover-point for another boundary. Amazing.

Quarter-final, Bangalore, 1996 World Cup

Ajay Jadeja entered a different zone late in the first half of the World Cup quarter-final, and successive Waqar Younis overs went for 18 and 22 as India spurted to 287. Pakistan managed 248 in reply.

Ajay Jadeja
I just was in the zone during that knock. Everything went according to a perfectly executed script, except that it didn't go the distance - I got out off the second ball of the last over.

I went in to bat when there were about eight overs left. Scoring against the Pakistani pace bowlers at the death was difficult. I was good at playing spin and Mushy [Mushtaq Ahmed] still had one over left to bowl so it was too early to go for the shots. I concentrated on playing from ball to ball.

Then Nayan Mongia was run out in the 46th over and things turned around. In the 48th over, bowled by Waqar, I received a half-volley first ball, which I dispatched through the covers. From there on, everything I hit was perfect. I knew Waqar would not try to do too much and would rely mostly on his stock ball, the inswinging yorker. The first of the two sixes I hit in that over came against that ball. I picked it up early, stepped out, and flicked it over midwicket.

I was just playing my instinctive game that day, which I believe was the best in that situation, and it worked accordingly.

Centurion, 2003 World Cup

It was billed as the match of the tournament and it lived up to the hype. After Pakistan had scrapped and charged to 273, Sachin Tendulkar made his intentions clear with a six and two fours in succession off Shoaib's Akhtar's first over, paving the way for a famous victory. Tendulkar made 98 before he was out, fending off a short ball from Shoaib.

Sachin Tendulkar
Contrary to what people think, I hadn't really planned to bat that way. I was pumped up for the match all right, but when we went out to bat, the idea was to stay in for the first few overs and see off the new ball. When you're chasing 275, you don't want to lose three or four quick wickets. Obviously, you can't afford to fall too much behind the run-rate either, but we knew that if we played out the first 10 overs, we had enough batsmen to play strokes later. So there was no question of targeting Shoaib or anybody else.

It just worked out differently. I got a couple of balls to hit, they went nicely off the bat, and things started happening. Shoaib bowled short and wide. It was there to be hit, and I hit it well. It went for a six. I thought, this is working well so why not carry on? Cricket is about making plans and executing them, but you have to be prepared to change your plans if things change out there in middle. It was one of those days.

Shoaib Akhtar
Sachin is the greatest batsman in the game, and if he comes out with something like that, it's no surprise. I was the one who got him out first ball when I was a nobody [in the Asian Test Championship, 1999]. And if he smashes me it doesn't mean Shoaib Akhtar is finished. Yes, we make strategies, and I make a strategy for the whole team rather than only for Sachin. Obviously, he is a key player and it's always an advantage to get him out fast. I had a strategy at Centurion too, but I was unfit. I had a problem with my knees and went into the game after having taken six injections. My entire right leg was numb and I was only about 40 per cent fit. It was just a bad day for us. It was bad being hit for sixes. It was just bad to lose in that way. They asked me to play, and they made me play, and I had to play for the sake of my country.