SK Flashback - India chase 387 vs England on December 15, 2008
During the 2008 winter season, India played England in the 5th ODI of the 7-match series at Cuttack. India managed to win the match comfortably but the joy of the victory soon turned into sorrow after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. The whole country suffered a setback as hundreds of innocent lives were lost in the terrorist attacks.
Panic and chaos set in after the incident. Concerned about the safety of the players, the English team decided to make their way back to their country abandoning the remaining two ODIs of the series.
The ODI series was to be followed by two Tests starting 11th of December. The England team management was well within their rights to refuse to come back for the series given the second Test was to be played in Mumbai.
But after receiving assurances of adequate security, they returned to play the Tests. The venues were shifted from Ahmedabad and Mumbai to Chennai and Mohali.
The first Test was played at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. It was an emotional game as the whole nation along with the players were recovering from the terrible incident that struck them just 15 days back.
On a typical Chennai pitch, the visitors decided to bat first after winning the toss. They reached a respectable 316 courtesy a century from the opener Andrew Strauss and half-centuries from Alastair Cook and Matt Prior.
India, in reply, got off to a poor start and timely blows meant that they conceded a lead of 75 runs. Andrew Flintoff and Monty Panesar were the major destructors picking up 3 wickets each whereas debutant, Graeme Swann, bagged a couple.
In England’s second innings, Andrew Strauss got his second century of the match as he scored 108 runs and was well supported by Paul Collingwood who also managed the same score. England reached 311/9 and had a lead of 386 runs at one stage. There were speculations that they would look to stretch the lead past 400 but the then skipper Kevin Pietersen had other ideas.
A bold declaration just after Tea on day 4 meant that India had a target of 387 runs. The English believed that they were in the driver’s seat as the pitch had enough on offer for the spinners. But fate had something else in store.
Sehwag blitz hits England
Chasing 387 runs in the final innings is no joke as it had never been done in India before. The highest chase in the country previous to that was 275 by West Indies almost twenty years in the past. With close to 3 and a half sessions left, most teams would have opted to play out a draw, however, the Indian batsmen walked in to bat with just victory in their minds.
Virender Sehwag was at his flamboyant best and went after the bowling from the outset. He scored 83 runs off just 68 balls with 11 fours and 4 sixes that left the Englishmen shell shocked. India cruised past hundred in no time and the platform was set for an improbable victory.
Gautam Gambhir played the perfect foil for the fellow man from Delhi as he held one end up and let Sehwag express himself. When the swashbuckling opener was finally dismissed in the 22nd over, India stood firmly at 117/1.
Having to chase 256 runs on the final day, India got off to the worst possible start as the wall Rahul Dravid departed very soon. Gambhir, who had scored a fifty, was sent back by James Anderson just before lunch. Laxman stood firm for a while, but he, too, fell soon after for 26 runs.
Four wickets down for 224 and with 163 runs still to be made, doubts were beginning to creep into the minds of the fans as to whether India would still go for the target or settle for a draw. The pitch was deteriorating and misbehaving more and more as the game progressed.
India had Sachin Tendulkar at the crease accompanied by Yuvraj Singh. What followed became a golden part of India’s cricketing history.
A masterclass from Tendulkar
The country had seen pain, the game itself was crying for revival after the brutal attacks in Mumbai. Divine intervention was required to resurrect the spirits of the countrymen.
Mumbai’s and India’s favourite son, Sachin, was deeply saddened by the disaster his city had gone through and he took it upon himself to see India through. He milked the bowlers initially and brought India ever so close to the target. He was beautifully supported by Yuvraj Singh at the other end who scored 85 in quick time.
With close to an hour to go in the day’s play, India were 4 runs short of the target and Tendulkar was batting on 99. Swann bowled one outside the off stump to which the Little Master played a paddle sweep.
As the ball rolled to the boundary line, the 30000 people in the stadium and the whole of India were filled with joy as they witnessed Tendulkar’s 41st century in Test cricket and more importantly a historic win for the nation. Yuvraj lifted Tendulkar in the air as England literally surrendered to the genius that the great man was.
India won the match by 6 wickets and marked the 4th highest run chase in the history of Test cricket. It was the highest in the sub-continent and the second highest ever for India. Although Sachin scored a hundred, the man of the match award went to Virender Sehwag for his blistering innings that made India believe that they could produce a miracle.
It was an emotional victory that perfectly saluted the spirit of the people in Mumbai, who put the attacks behind them quickly and moved on with their lives.Published 15 Dec 2016, 15:30 IST