Cricket World Cup History: Recalling the epic encounter between Aamir Sohail and Venkatesh Prasad
With little over a week left for the most awaited match of Cricket World Cup 2019 – India vs Pakistan – let us revisit one of the iconic World Cup moments between these two nations – the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal match at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore
On the 9th of March 1996, cricket fans saw one of the most inspirational comebacks by a bowler, Venkatesh Prasad, against Aamir Sohail. Only those fans who have watched this moment live either in stadium or TV will be able to appreciate the magnitude of this moment.
India finished at 287/8 in 50 overs, thanks to Navjot Singh Sidhu’s 93 and Ajay Jadeja’s cameo of 45 runs from just 25 balls. Jadeja’s onslaught on Waqar Younis in the death overs had ensured India got 87 runs in the last 10 overs. Pakistan were fined an over for slow over rate and had to chase down 288 in 49 overs.
The Pakistani openers Aamir Sohail (stand-in captain for the injured Wasim Akram) and Saeed Anwar got the team off to a flyer. At the end of 10 overs, the score was 84/0. The Indian bowlers were being flayed to all parts of the ground. The Chinnaswamy crowd had gone silent. Saeed Anwar got out to Javagal Srinath at 84/1 but Aamir Sohail was still going strong. Pakistan crossed 100 in the 14th over and Sohail got to his 50. Sohail was slowly but surely taking away the match from India. At the end of 14 overs, Pakistan had raced to 104/1. With 185 runs required off 35 overs (less than 6 runs per over), Pakistan were clear favourites to win the match.
Venkatesh Prasad came running in to bowl the 15th over. Ijaz Ahmed took 5 runs off the first 2 balls. The next 2 balls were dot balls. The match changed in the course of the next 2 balls
The 5th ball was a good-length ball. Sohail flat-batted it between point and cover for a four. However, Sohail did something which stunned everyone. Sohail walked down to Prasad, pointed his finger in the direction of the boundary either in arrogance or in triumph. He did not know the impact of that small action on the match. That act fired up Prasad. It also got the crowd up on their feet. The next ball was a defining one in the context of the match.
Prasad came in running, Sohail tried to move away and repeat the previous boundary shot and missed the length. Credit to Prasad, he held his nerve and bowled a “you miss, I hit” ball.T he rest, as they say, is history.
Venkatesh Prasad sent Aamir Sohail’s stumps cartwheeling out of the ground and gave him a sending off to the pavilion. The Chinnaswamy erupted in joy as their local hero had bagged the prize wicket. Sohail had suffered a concentration lapse and that was enough for Prasad. Post Sohail’s wicket, Pakistan crumbled and lost the match by 39 runs. When Sohail departed, their run rate was 7.16 per over and the required rate was 5.23 per over. But Sohail’s lapse in concentration ensured he not only gifted his wicket but also gifted the momentum to India.
Prasad bowling Sohail out was the turning point of the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal. The Prasad vs Sohail contest became part of cricketing folklore. Fans who have watched the 1996 World Cup will agree that it is one of the most unforgettable memories of an India-Pakistan Clasico till date.
Let us hope that the World Cup 2019 encounter between the two teams turns to be another classic encounter, which cricket fans will remember for a long time to come.
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