Exclusive: For Srikkanth, India-Pakistan T20 clash brings back memories of Sharjah classics

Kapil Dev took three wickets in India's win in the Rothmans Four-Nations Cup game in 1985. — KT file
Kapil Dev took three wickets in India's win in the Rothmans Four-Nations Cup game in 1985. — KT file

Dubai - Former Indian opener played his part in many an epic duel between the two countries at the iconic Stadium



by

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Thu 21 Oct 2021, 5:06 PM

As millions of fans around the world brace for Sunday’s mouth-watering T20 World Cup clash between India and Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, memories of old epics between cricket’s two greatest rivals have come flooding back.

One such man who has become nostalgic is Krishnamachari Srikkanth, the swashbuckling former Indian opener who would have earned a rock star status in the IPL era with his fearless shot-making.

Srikkanth played his part in many an epic duel between the two countries at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Javed Miandad attained mythic status with a last-ball six in the 1986 Austral-Asia Cup final. — KT file
Javed Miandad attained mythic status with a last-ball six in the 1986 Austral-Asia Cup final. — KT file

“I have some really good memories of India-Pakistan matches in UAE. I think we started playing in Sharjah in 1984,” Srikkanth recalled, while talking to Khaleej Times over the phone from India.

While this will be the first India-Pakistan T20 game on these shores, it was in Sharjah that the two teams gave the sport some of the most unforgettable matches in the 50-over format.

For Srikkanth, two matches stand out for the absolute quality of play and the fluctuating fortunes.

“I remember the match we played against them in 1985 when we were all out for 125,” said Srikkanth, referring to the Rothmans Four-Nations Cup game in 1985 when Imran Khan (10-2-14-6) conjured a devastating display of fast bowling at the Sharjah Stadium.

And yet, India went on to win the match by 38 runs, thanks to a brilliant response from the Indian bowlers Kapil Dev (6.5-1-17-3), Laxman Sivaramakrishnan (7-2-16-2) and Ravi Shastri (10-5-17-2).

“We got them all out for 88 (87). That was one match I don’t think I can ever forget. I remember Imran bowled a brilliant spell. But then our spinners bowled brilliantly and we won the match,” Srikkanth said,

The former Indian captain then reflected on the 1986 Austral-Asia Cup final when Javed Miandad attained mythic status with a last-ball six to earn Pakistan the most dramatic ODI victory of all time.

Defending 246 in the final, India had Pakistan on a tight leash at one end, taking wickets at regular intervals. But Miandad (116 not out, 114 balls, 3 fours and 3 sixes) kept on defying the Indian attack from the other end and scripted an astonishing one-wicket victory with a last-ball six off Chetan Sharma.

“There were so many memorable India-Pakistan matches in Sharjah. And, of course, you have the famous Javed Miandad last-ball six match. It was a very interesting match, probably it was a match we should have won. But Javed played one of the greatest ever knocks in one-day cricket that day,” said Srikkanth who scored 75 off 80 balls with eight fours and two sixes in that match.

“It was one of the best knocks I have seen. He won that match with the tailenders. So, you know, there were so many matches, both the teams played some extraordinary matches and it was great to be part of those Indian teams.”

Now Srikkanth believes the hugely experienced Indian team led by Virat Kohli will have the edge over Babar Azam’s Pakistan on Sunday.

“The India-Pakistan cricket rivalry has always been intense. But, you know Pakistan have never done well against India in the World Cups so far. So, this is again a World Cup match. I think India have a huge advantage,” Srikkanth said.

“The Indian team is a very good team. As you know, India have always dominated Pakistan in World Cup matches. So I believe India will do very well in this match on Sunday.”

rituraj@khaleejtimes.com


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