The quarter-final between India and Pakistan in Bangalore was the showpiece game of the 1996 World Cup. There was controversy with Pakistan captain Wasim Akram pulling out at the last minute, there was the usual high-voltage tension that goes hand-in-hand with India-Pakistan encounters, there was quality batting from India led by Navjot Sidhu's fighting 93 and boosted by Ajay Jadeja's ballistic 25-ball 45, followed by a sensational riposte, with Pakistan openers Saeed Anwar and stand-in captain Aamer Sohail thumping 84 off the first 10 overs. The 35,000 spectators packed into Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium, who had gone wild during India's innings, were almost in a state of shock, silently praying for a breakthrough.
Anwar fell with the score on 84 but Sohail continued to shred the bowlers. He brought up his fifty at more than a run a ball and celebrated with a sizzling slash off Venkatesh Prasad, who was booed in certain stands despite being a Bangalore boy. Once the ball had raced away to the extra-cover fence, Sohail aggressively pointed the bat at Prasad, as if to say, "Go fetch that." Sohail tried to repeat the slash off the next ball, despite it being on off stump, and this time he was comprehensively bowled. A charged-up Prasad gave him a send-off ("Go home you f*****g bastard") and the quiet tension suddenly gave way to an eruption as the crowd realised the tide had turned.
Pakistan lost the crucial wickets of Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam-ul-Haq in the next few overs and veterans like Saleem Malik and Javed Miandad were not up to matching a climbing asking rate. India went on to complete a win and all those out on the streets of Bangalore witnessed a joyous victory parade. The reactions in Pakistan were vitriolic: one fan reportedly shot his television and then himself, while Akram, who didn't play after rupturing his side muscles, was burned in effigy. Sohail was vilified for his moment of indiscretion and the game also heralded the end of Miandad's career, one that had spanned three decades.
This article was first published in 2014