Pakistani cricket has reigned supreme due to the individual brilliance of our players. Over the years, we have had the privilege of witnessing some great matches, especially matches we had nearly lost but won by close margins.
This never say die attitude is synonymous with Pakistani cricket and has resulted in various ODIs and Test victories. We were reminded of these particular nail-biting performances through Pepsi’s latest marketing campaign. Its tagline, Abhi Nahi Toh Kabhi Nahi, resonates with the way Pakistan plays cricket and its history of winning matches during desperate times. Here are my five favourite wins:
1. Javed Miandad’s six on the last ball, Sharjah
No Pakistani cricket fan, or Indian cricket fan for that matter, can ever forget the last delivery by Chetan Sharma in the AustralAsia Cup Final in Sharjah in 1986. With only four runs needed to win off the final delivery of the match, Javed Miandad had only one option – to swing it for a four or six. Javed Miandad’s swing at a full-toss from Chetan Sharma which sailed over the mid-wicket boundary is etched in the memory of every Pakistani. Chetan Sharma probably still has nightmares about that day.
That last ball sixer was more significant than our win in the final. Till that match, Pakistan and India has squared off in 16 ODIs, with India winning eight and Pakistan winning seven. That six changed everything for Pakistan. It was arguably the most defining six in Pakistan’s cricket history, since it helped sustain a psychological edge over India for the next decade and a half. It literally scarred an entire nation. Over the next 15 years, Pakistan and India played 61 ODIs with Pakistan winning 39 and India winning 19.
2. 1992 World Cup Win
The 1992 World Cup is another memorable event that no Pakistani cricket fan can forget. Unfortunately, it remains to be Pakistan’s only International Cricket Council’s (ICC) World Cup win to-date.
For us, it was a just a cricket World Cup, but for Imran Khan, Pakistan’s beloved skipper, it was a lot more than that. Having lost the semi-final of the World Cup in 1987, especially after being one of the favourites to win the title, 1992 was Imran Khan’s last chance. It was his last chance at holding the World Cup trophy, it was his last chance to build a cancer hospital and it was his last chance to realise a dream. But the start of the tournament was far from ideal for Pakistan, who, after just five games, sat on only three points.
Nearly everyone had ruled Pakistan out of the World Cup and we knew that only a miracle could save their campaign. However, there was one man, actually two, who believed Pakistan still had a chance – Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan himself, who trusted his team to go all the way.
Three wins on the trot and a result ensuring that the West Indies would not advance and Pakistan found themselves in the semi-finals. The rest, as they say, is history.
3. The near-century that was worth 10 tons
Inzamam Ul Haq had scored a Test century in every Test playing country except South Africa, so when he toured South Africa in 2007 he knew it would be his last chance to conquer the only nation he had not yet conquered.
With Pakistan 1-0 down in the Test series and having bowled South Africa out for only 124 in the first innings of the second Test, the stage was set for a rare Test win in South Africa and for Inzamam to capitalise on his bowlers’ performance.
But Pakistan being Pakistan, collapsed at 135-6 by the end of day one. Inzamam, lined up to bat at number six, did not get a chance to bat after the fall of the fourth wicket. He did not bat at the fall of the fifth wicket either in the penultimate over. Instead, a night watchman, Mohammad Sami, was sent in.
The next morning, Inzamam walked out to bat, at number eight, with Sami and only bowlers, namely Shoaib Akhtar, Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Asif to follow.
Pakistan managed to add another 130 runs to their overnight total with Inzamam contributing 92 of those runs. Unfortunately he missed the elusive century, but had he not run out of partners he would have definitely gotten there.
That unbeaten knock of 92 was as good as any Test century Inzamam had ever scored. It is one of the best knocks witnessed in a pressure situation.
For more than 30 overs, Inzamam toyed with Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, and Jacques Kallis as he manoeuvred the strike like a batting wizard. He played four or five deliveries off every over before taking a single and he continued with the same method for 36 overs. Never has a batsman played with such authority. That knock was as good as scoring 10 centuries in South Africa.
4. Two sixes in the final over to beat India
During the Asia Cup encounter against India, Pakistan had scored 200-4 in 43 overs while chasing a target of 246. But the word comfort and Pakistani cricket don’t go together. Soon they were at 236-9 in 49.1 overs. Five wickets lost for 36 runs in 6.1 overs; another 10 needed to win off five deliveries and one wicket remaining. Fortunately for us, one lifeline remained for Pakistan – the one and only – Shahid Afridi.
Junaid Khan walked out to face the second delivery of the final over following the fall of Saeed Ajmal’s wicket. Just like Tauseef Ahmed had done back in 1986, Junaid Khan took the all-important single to bring Afridi on strike.
Pakistan’s cricket fans usually have their hearts in their mouths every time Afridi is on strike, so one can’t even begin to explain what the feeling was when Afridi stood on that crease.
The next delivery could either go boom or bust; that’s just how it is with Afridi. For someone who had failed umpteen times to finish off games with the bat, it was an ideal situation to prove himself.
In just two deliveries, Afridi corrected mistakes committed over two decades. With two sixes off the third and fourth delivery of the final over from Ravichandran Ashwin, Afridi repeated history and steered Pakistan towards an improbable one wicket win.
5. Two Ws combine to win at Lord’s
Pakistan’s cricket folklore is filled with stories about Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis coming together to decimate the opposition and enabling Pakistan to wins matches they had no business winning.
Pakistan has won lost opportunities because of the famous duo. They have done this in Pakistan, Sharjah, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and England. They have defended meagre totals, initiated collapses and won games which no one could imagine winning.
And they did all this with a ball.
However, there is this one match the two W’s won for Pakistan with the bat. It was the second Test of Pakistan’s tour to England in 1992. Pakistan had dominated the Test from day one and were all set for victory after bowling England out twice and setting themselves a target of 138. But as is the case with Pakistan, nothing is simple.
Chris Lewis dismissed Rameez Raja, Asif Mujtaba, and Javed Miandad (all three for a duck) to leave Pakistan reeling at 18-3, which soon became 68-6 and then 95-8. That is when Waqar Younis joined Wasim Akram at the crease. The two had partnered well with the ball, but this time they had to try and do it with the bat.
While Wasim Akram, with a single Test hundred to his name, was still known for his batting; Waqar Younis was barely familiar with the bat. But Waqar Younis fought hard. The two W’s stayed at the crease till the very end putting together an unbroken 46 run partnership for the ninth wicket. Wasim Akram stayed on with an unbeaten 45 and Waqar Younis with an unbeaten 20, leading Pakistan to a two-wicket win.
We can keep writing about Pakistan’s Abhi Nahi Toh Kabhi Nahi moments in cricket. There are so many of them, especially the ones in the past, but the above five are definitely our favourite ones.
What are your Abhi Nahi Toh Kabhi Nahi moments related to Pakistani cricket? Share your memories with us in the comments section!
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