This was the quintessential One-day match, the kind its founding fathers would have envisaged. Fortunes fluctuated wildly, and with just three deliveries remaining the outcome hung in the balance. The favourites were on the ropes, with the challengers poised for a long time, trying to deliver the knockout punch. This match has gone into the annals as one of the most exciting.
Pakistan elected to bat and steadily built up a formidable score. The innate lazy elegance of Majid Khan, deputizing for skipper Asif Iqbal, was in full evidence as he played a strokeful knock of 60. Mushtaq Mohammed drew on all his experience, and later Wasim Raja played some belligerent shots, both hitting up half-centuries.
The talented Pakistanis set a challenging target of 267 in 60 overs for the fancied West Indies. This was just the spur for the temperamental giant Sarfraz Nawaz to put pressure on the West Indies. In a devastating burst, he demolished the top order. Gordon Greenidge and Alvin Kallicharran were caught behind and Roy Fredericks was trapped in front of the stumps. Sarfraz had taken three for 8 in 3.4 overs. Veteran Rohan Kanhai helped his captain Clive Lloyd stage a minor recovery.
Then began a regular procession. At 166 for eight, with only wicketkeeper Deryck Murray and two tail-end pacemen left, an upset win for Pakistan seemed a certainty. The West Indies had long been rated as a team of brilliant players but often incapable of applying themselves under pressure.
On this occasion Deryck Murray dug in his heels. He found an able ally in Vanburn Holder. They put on 37 runs for the ninth wicket. But just when the partnership was assuming ominous proportions, the wily Sarfraz returned to have Holder snapped up. At 203 for nine, surely it was all over bar the shouting. The sight of the phlegmatic Andy Roberts emerging from the pavilion could not have inspired much confidence among the Caribbean supporters.
Amazingly, the West Indies were not ready to call it a day. Run-by-run they inched towards their target. As they survived over-after-agonising-over, a tiny ray of hope began to emerge. For the Pakistanis it became increasingly frustrating, and as the crucial final overs approached, the alarm bells were ringing loudly.
Murray and Roberts displayed admirable composure as they steadily chipped away. Leg-spinner Wasim Raja came on to bowl the final over in a desperate bid to coerce last man Roberts to miscue. The fast bowler was in no mood to fall into the trap with the goal so close at hand. He pushed the fourth ball to mid-wicket to pull off a sensational win for the West Indies.
A one-wicket victory with two balls to spare, and that as a result of an unbroken last-wicket stand of 64; it was not a match for the faint-hearted. Former England captain Tony Lewis wrote: "It was a superb triumph for the game of cricket which manages many things which politicians envy." As for the heroes, take your pick: Murray, Sarfraz or Roberts.
Pakistan: 266 for 7 wickets (60 overs), West Indies: 267 for 9 wickets (59.4 overs)Published 30 Apr 2019, 02:26 IST