Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Memorable Performances…..4 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh

CHETAN SHARMA STRIKES THREE OUT OF THREE
Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground, Nagpur  •  31 October 1987


A hat-trick is a coveted feat, no matter what grade of cricket you are playing. And Chetan Sharma was always an interesting character on the field. A tiny, bearded, dynamo of a paceman, he could surprise batsmen with his deceptive speed, no mean feat for a man of such slight build. He was not one to hide his emotions either, and his theatrical, strident and shrill appeals were invariably cause for mirth among the spectators.

Thus when a man like Chetan Sharma achieves a hat-trick, and that too in the World Cup before a capacity home crowd, the scene can well be imagined. Naturally, there was pandemonium. The crowd went berserk as Sharma lay spread-eagled on his back in sheer ecstasy, and his teammates ran towards him in a mixture of disbelief, jubilation and amusement. If ever there was a magic moment in Indian cricket, it was this.

As New Zealand were in the process of building a healthy total, there was no hint of the drama and excitement to follow. Ken Rutherford and Dipak Patel were consolidating the position after four wickets had gone for 122 runs. At 181, Patel was caught by skipper Kapil Dev off Ravi Shasti for a top-score of 40.

This is where Chetan Sharma took over. With the score on 182 he clean bowled Rutherford off the fourth delivery of his 6th over. Wicketkeeper Ian Smith came in next and Sharma went through his defence too, first ball. Celebrations gave way to a buzz of anticipation as Ewan Chatfield took Smith's place. Kapil Dev called in his field. Each fielder was on his toes, desperate not to let down the little speedster, now hyper-active with excitement. They need not have bothered. Sharma steamed in and let go, and amazingly, Chatfield missed. The ball crashed into his stumps.

The noise was deafening. Chetan Sharma had taken a hat-trick, and all clean bowled. The entire Indian team descended on the triumphant bowler, as the crestfallen Chatfield walked away unnoticed. New Zealand had slumped from 181 for four to 182 for eight.

Martin Snedden and Willie Watson took the score to 221 before the former was run out off the last ball of the innings. India's task was none-too-difficult if the sole purpose was to win the match. They had already qualified for the semi-finals. But to top the group and avoid a clash with Pakistan in the semi-finals - at that stage the final was billed as a showpiece encounter between the sub-continental neighbours - it was necessary for India to win in less than 38 overs, a run-rate of 5.85 runs per over.

Right from the first ball, Krish Srikkanth and Sunil Gavaskar left no one in any doubt that India were out to achieve the run-rate. It was a blazing opening stand as they put on 136 runs in only 17 overs. When Srikkanth holed out, he had scored 75 off just 58 deliveries, having smashed 3 sixes and 9 fours. Gavaskar reached his maiden One-day century off 85 deliveries. It was to be his only one in what turned out to be the penultimate match of his career. At that time it was the second-fastest in the World Cup after Clive Lloyd's blitzkrieg in the 1975 final. Gavaskar's unbeaten 103 came off 88 balls with 3 sixes and 10 fours.

But the most exciting moment of this exhilarating match was Chetan Sharma's hat-trick, the first in the premier tournament until Saqlain Mushtaq emulated the feat in 1999, followed by Chaminda Vaas and Brett Lee in 2003, and Lasith Malinga in 2007.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Memorable Performances…..3 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh

FANTASY KNOCK BY KAPIL DEV
Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells  •  18 June 1983


This was the quintessential One-day innings. As India found themselves in deep trouble against a razor-sharp Zimbabwe side, skipper Kapil Dev strode in and played one of the greatest knocks in the history of One-day cricket. Kapil Dev ranks among the best allrounders the game has known. Yet he was a far more talented batsman than his records indicate. This innings showed exactly why.

It was a lively wicket at the Nevill Ground and the Zimbabwean pacemen Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran exploited it to the hilt. Sunil Gavaskar was leg-before to Rawson for a duck: zero for one. Krish Srikkanth was caught by Iain Butchart off Curran, also for a duck: 6 for two. Mohinder Amarnath was taken behind off Rawson for 5: 6 for three. Sandeep Patil was dismissed similarly off Curran for 1: 9 for four. Wicketkeeper David Houghton completed his third consecutive dismissal as he caught Yashpal Sharma off Rawson for 9: 17 for five; and it was an unprecedented calamity for India.

Roger Binny now joined Kapil Dev, and the skipper decided it was no time for half-baked measures. He launched a blitzkrieg. Binny was a resilient partner, and he helped his captain add 60 for the sixth wicket. Binny fell leg-before to John Traicos for 22. It was now 77 for six. Ravi Shastri scored only 1 before Duncan Fletcher had him caught by Andy Pycroft. India were precariously placed at 78 for seven.

Madan Lal came in now, and his role was limited to keeping his wicket intact while Kapil Dev was on the rampage. Kapil attacked in his inimitable style, hitting the ball to all parts of the ground. He drove, off the front foot and the back, through the gaps into the fence. Anything short was cut ferociously. If the ball was anywhere near, or outside, the leg-stump, Kapil would swivel in a flash and, as was his wont with his left leg bent in the manner of Lord Shiva, smite the ball anywhere in the region between mid-wicket and fine-leg.

Kapil Dev was a master in the art of lofting the ball out of the ground. One step forward - and bang - with perfect timing, and the ball would next be seen sailing high up in the distance. It was Kapil at his swashbuckling best. Madan Lal, no mean hitter of the ball himself when the bowling was less than genuinely quick, was left applauding for the most part. Madan Lal scored 17 before he was caught by Houghton off Curran. He had helped Kapil add 62 for the eighth wicket.

Syed Kirmani came in at 140 for eight, and now Kapil really let himself go. There was a shower of fours and sixes. Kapil blazed to his century off 100 balls. The pair added 126 runs before the overs ran out. Kirmani's contribution was 24 not out. Kapil remained undefeated with 175 off a mere 138 balls, which broke Glenn Turner's World Cup record score of 171 against East Africa in 1975.

Kapil had batted for a mere three hours, and hit 16 fours and 6 sixes - a round 100 in boundaries - in a stupendous innings which will never be forgotten. Zimbabwe, as they often did, went down fighting. But Kapil Dev had obliterated everything in the blazing morning's play. It was an innings of rare brilliance, the like of which is seen perhaps once in a decade. After this, Kapil's team never looked back and went on to wrest the title, creating one of the most stunning upsets in history. Hail Kapil Dev.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Memorable Performances…..2 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh

KING AND RICHARDS LAUNCH FEROCIOUS ASSAULT FOR THE CROWN
Lord's, London  •  23 June 1979



For over a-decade-and-a-half, Vivian Richards was king. On this mid-summer day Collis King put him in the shade. The two were associated in an exhilarating partnership, and Richards went on to get a super hundred. But King was simply brilliant in this game, and the king would be the first to admit that such was the case.

The West Indies began the final in exactly the same manner as they had done the previous one, four years earlier. They lost early wickets, and three had gone around the fifty mark. In 1975 Clive Lloyd had taken over at that stage. In this match the skipper too fell at 99 in the 30th over as Chris Old held a brilliant return catch. The champions were a worried lot when allrounder Collis King joined Richards.

They need not have been so apprehensive because King was in awesome form. The pair first repaired the damage, and at lunch the West Indies were 125 for four off 34 overs. Richards was on 55, and King 19. Mike Brearley has been hailed by many as an outstanding captain, though others feel that he was over-rated because the opposition was often feeble. In this final his calculations went awry.

After lunch Brearley put on his non-regular bowlers. This was just the opportunity Richards and King were looking for. They pounced on it with glee. Geoff Boycott was smashed for 38 runs off his six overs, with 11 coming off the 4th, and 15 off the 6th. Graham Gooch was carted for 27 in 4 overs. Brearley then tried Wayne Larkins with disastrous results. He was thrashed for 21 in two overs, with 16 coming off the second. And so 86 runs were logged in those 12 overs.

Perhaps Brearley could have pressed on in attacking mode. Maybe he could have bowled the occasional trundlers in tandem with the accomplished ones. Even these tactics might not have worked. One will never know. The score now stood at 210 for four at the end of 46 overs. The partnership continued as King and Richards piled on the runs.

Finally, King fell in the 51st over. His blazing 86 came off a mere 66 balls with 10 fours and 3 sixes. The pulsating 139-run partnership spanned only 21 overs. King was simply breathtaking. Farokh Engineer wrote: "It looked as if the spirit of Learie Constantine lived again in his body." All this while Vivian Richards managed only 46 runs. Amazingly, he was overshadowed - for once.

Perhaps Richards' pride had been hurt. He went on a rampage thereafter and hit 43 of the last 48 runs in 9 overs. He lofted the last ball of the innings in his nonchalant manner for a huge six. The West Indies finished at 286 for nine as Richards remained unbeaten with 138 off 157 balls with 11 fours and 3 sixes. The crowd was satiated.

The score was too big for England. Brearley and Boycott did put on 129 runs for the first wicket but they laboured for 38 overs to get them. They had already batted their side out of the match, and when Joel Garner claimed 5 wickets in 11 deliveries he only hurried the inevitable. Needless to say, the match will be remembered for the scintillating batting of Collis King and Vivian Richards as the West Indies lifted the gleaming Prudential World Cup for the second time.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Cricket World Cup - Memorable Performances…..1 : Excerpt from ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’ by Indra Vikram Singh

KALLICHARRAN TAMES THE TIGER
Kennington Oval, London  •  14 June 1975


The clash everyone looked forward to in the 1975 World Cup was the one between Australia and the West Indies. They were the best teams at the time and were battling hard to gain the initiative in Group B. Both sides had impressive bowling line-ups, and the batsmen found runs hard to come by. That was till Alvin Kallicharran strode into the arena.

The pacemen had enjoyed themselves for much of the Australian innings. Rick McCosker went to the third ball of the day, caught off his gloves at backward short-leg as a Bernard Julien snorter took off from a length. Soon Andy Roberts and Keith Boyce got among the wickets, and Australia slid to 61 for five. Ross Edwards, showing fine form, and Rodney Marsh arrested the slide with a 99-run partnership, but all that the Aussies could manage was 192 in 53.4 overs.

The West Indies lost Gordon Greenidge at 29, and that was when Kallicharran took over the match. Kallicharran is Rohan Kanhai's cousin, and was often dubbed as the left-handed version of the former captain. Both diminutive and superb strokemakers, they could be astonishing on their day. Kallicharran also possesses an effervescent outgoing personality, and was always a likely candidate to be a crowd favourite.

Kallicharran's silken smooth strokes were in evidence right from the start. The elegant left-hander took the attack to the Aussies. He was particularly severe on Dennis 'Tiger' Lillee. The great paceman was left bewildered as he had rarely been treated with such disdain. As Kallicharran waded into him, Lillee bowled faster, only to be hit harder by the little man.

He brought the house down in the 31st over, hammering four fours off a fuming Lillee. In his next over Kallicharran hit a huge six high up above long-leg. In an exhilarating sequence, Kallicharran smashed 4.4.4.4.4.1.4.6.0.4 – 35 runs off 10 deliveries from the paceman. Lillee was at his wits' end. When he pitched up, Kallicharran was on to it like lightning and driving through the covers. If he tried to bounce, Kalli would hook fiercely. To use Dennis Compton's words: "The short-pitched balls held no terrors for the West Indian. He got on to the back foot and right behind the line and hooked them mercilessly".

Kallicharran raced to 78 off 83 balls with 14 fours and a six in an hour and three-quarters. He had put on 124 for the second wicket with Roy Fredericks when he finally mishooked a bumper from Lillee and was caught at mid-wicket. Lillee eventually had his revenge but it was too late as the West Indies were already on the road to victory, and his own analysis in shambles. Fredericks fell soon after but Vivian Richards and Kanhai saw the side to victory. Lillee finished with one for 66 off 10 overs.

It was a brilliant display by Kallicharran, worth going miles to see. Those who saw it or heard about it on the radio, shall never forget the excitement.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567

Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.