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The Most Controversial Test match between India and Pakistan

Lav Kumar
343   //    Timeless


There have been plenty of close encounters in games involving India and Pakistan. Players from both the nations feel the pressure to perform in those games and controversy is never too far away. One such controversial match took place in 1999 at Eden Gardens.

It was the first match of the Asian Test Championship. Tens of thousands of people flooded the ground for the encounter which saw Pakistan's then captain Wasim Akram win the toss and elect to bat first. Shahid Afridi and Saeed Anwar opened for Pakistan.

Venkatesh Prasad and Javagal Srinath opened the bowling for India and in no time Pakistan was reduced to 26 for the loss of six wickets. Saleem Malik and Moin Khan stitched together a partnership to take Pakistan out of trouble. Wasim Akram also added important 38 runs and Pakistan was bowled out for 185 on the first day itself. Srinath picked a five-wicket haul.

In reply, India was cruising at one stage for 147 for the loss of just 2 wickets. But in two successive deliveries, Shoaib Akhtar cleaned got rid of India's two best batsmen, Rahul Dravid, and Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin was even booed by the Eden crowd for his golden duck.

No batsman apart from S Ramesh was able to stay at the crease for a long time and India were bowled out for 223. Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram were the picks of the bowlers picking 4 and 3 wickets respectively. India had lost the advantage they had after the first innings as they could only take a slender lead.

In the second innings, Pakistan batsmen showcased plenty of grit. Saeed Anwar played one of his best knocks and carried his bat through scoring 188*. Mohammad Yusuf scored a valuable 56 and Pakistan were bowled out for 316. Srinath in the second innings took 8 wickets and finished with the figures of 13/132.

Pakistan had given India a stiff total to chase in the fourth innings. India needed 279 to win the match with more than 2 days left. India started the chase brilliantly and crossed hundred without losing any wicket. India lost S Ramesh when the score was 108 and VVS Laxman at 134.

Sachin and Dravid were in the middle and were expected to take India home. When on 7, Tendulkar played a shot to deep midwicket and ran for 2 completing his 5000 runs in Test matches. He ran for the third and would have made easily but he had a collision with Shoaib Akhtar and he was short of the ground. Steve Bucknor the on-field umpire referred it to the third umpire KT Francis who after a long delay gave him out.

Although Sachin was unhappy, he had to depart and that got the crowd riled out. The raucous crowd started chanting 'cheat-cheat' and pelting Shoaib Akhtar, who was standing at deep, with bottles and other objects. That prompted the umpires to call for an early tea.

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It was only after the appeal from Sachin himself and then ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya that the match was able to resume. India lost wickets at regular intervals and was reduced to 214 for 6 with Saurav Ganguly and Anil Kumble at the crease. India needed 65 runs with four wickets in hand.

The next morning Ganguly fell early and so did India's hopes. When Srinath got out India was 231/9 and Pakistan just 1 wicket away from the victory, the crowd started burning newspapers and throwing bottles on the ground. The match was stopped and the police were required to help facilitate the removal of the fans from the stadium. Once all of that was done and the match resumed, it took Pakistan just 10 balls to win the match by 46 runs.

Saeed Anwar was awarded the man of the match from Pakistan's side and Srinath from the Indian side.

Wasim Akram was very critical of the Indian media and blamed them for the crowd's behaviour.

“You have held the crowd responsible…but I will never blame them for this because they were all pre-occupied with those reports, (because of) which the saddest thing in Test cricket happened here today.”

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Lav Kumar
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