Sunday, November 18, 2007


I still remember that day like it was only yesterday. That was the time when my town did not have the television. To watch live cricket one had to go to friends who stayed ten kilometres away.

I and a couple of friends decided to cycle all the way to watch the 1986 finals at Sharjah featuring India and Pakistan. We chose a classmate who was having a colour television.

India batted first and made a score that was going to challenge Pakistan. Srikkanth and Gavaskar laid the platform and Dilip Vengsarkar scored a fifty. India lost wickets late in the innings and that prevented a truly big score. Pakistan’s innings mainly revolved around Javed Miandad. India was always in the match and just a couple of wickets away from a win. The last over was to be bowled by Chetan Sharma and Miandad hit the last ball-a full toss for a six to claim the win.

That one shot changed the equation between India and Pakistan on the cricket field in general and at Sharjah in particular. In most of the matches that followed, India finished on the losing side. Chetan Sharma became the villain. In those days, the issue of match fixing was not in vogue, otherwise, the public pressure would have forced the authorities to launch an investigation. Even when Chetan Sharma went on to take wickets in England helping India to win the series only for the second time, the tag stayed with him.

A couple of days ago while surfing the channels, I watched a programme titled “Remember the Titans” on ESPN or Star Sports. The programme featured Chetan Sharma’s exploits on the English tour of 1986. The tour is best known for the series win and the batting of Vengsarkar but the programme brought to the fore the invaluable contribution made by Sharma.

In a great coincidence, India secured a series win over Pakistan-the first in an ODI series on home soil in 24 years. Sharma is now an expert on Doordarshan. The win and the programme helped to banish the rather unforgettable pain of cycling all the way back home after the Miandad six when ten kilometres appeared a great distance.

Thanks a lot, Mr.Sharma for the win in England.

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