The evening of April 18th 1986 would scar a generation of Indian cricket fans for more than two decades. Javed Miandad’s six over mid-wicket off Chethan Sharma’s last ball snuffed out a nation’s belief in comebacks.
It was actually a great death over till that last ball. Wasim Akram gets run out in the first ball by a fierce throw from Kapil Dev from mid-on. Sharma then cleans up Zulquarnain in the 4th delivery. With 5 runs to get from 2 balls, Tauseef Ahmed, the last man, makes the greatest run of his life to hand Miandad the strike. His missed run-out would become the worst ever for Indian cricket. Javed did the rest.
Sharjah became a nightmare. Losing from winning positions became a trend. The ’96 semi-final in Calcutta. Bridgetown in ’97 when we folded up at 81 chasing 121. And many more. Comebacks were elusive
And then Chennai ’99 happened. Tendulkar along with Mongia resurrected India from 82/5 to get them just 53 runs away chasing 253 in the 4th innings against Pakistan. Mongia then goes for a glory shot and falls. Tendulkar shepherds the strike and gets India within striking distance of just 17 runs for a win. But a hurting back and a sudden need to finish the game induces the first and only loose shot. Even before he removes his pads after reaching the dressing room, Saqlain Mushtaq sends back the remaining 4 batsmen for 4 runs. India lost by 12 runs.
A nation wept with Sachin. And forgot comebacks.
It took five great men of character and the turn of century for the tide to turn. It started with Calcutta ‘01. Adelaide ‘03. Perth ’08. But most definitively in the Sept ’07 T20 final.
Last week, I had tuned into the third day’s play at Adelaide in the morning and stepped out to buy some veggies. In that half hour I was away, 10 wickets fell for 36. Worst ever. Lowest ever.
And now a week later, as we savour the historic comeback in MCG, I am seeing this from a different lens.
A new generation is showing us the only way to shake off the past and not remain a prisoner of it: Choose the story you want to tell. And listen.
So, what are you telling yourself into 2021?