Nehru Cup 1989 – Pakistan Beat West Indies in the Final at Eden Gardens Calcutta. What a finish! The climax must have gone beyond the wildest imagination of the scriptwriters. Sports have their own way of creating the dramatic effect of the theatre. This is life imitating art.
The extraordinary drama of the finish of the Nehru Cup 1989 made all the trouble everyone took to create such an event worthwhile. The frenetic rush from city to city should normally have militated against such good cricket in the final. The resilience of the teams in both mind and body led to the playing of a great final that will be remembered for a long time.
The ball was soaring out of Eden Gardens. Having accepted the chilling reality of that hit by Wasim Akram clearing the ground the West Indians began sprinting to the dressing room. But they did not forget to applaud the feat of Pakistan in meeting thus a target of 274. The ifs and buts will finger on. They will feature in any post-mortem on the final. What ifViv Richards had not bowled the final over when six were needed? What if he had kept back? Malcolm Marshall is for just one over to bowl a potentially decisive 50th over?
Viv Richards was to defend himself stoutly In fact. He came down very hard on a reporter who questioned his bowling in the 50th over. Viv Richards’s defense was based on the momentum attained by Pakistan never being slowed down. The runs were gathered at six an over against his best bowlers and Richards said he could not risk coming on then and getting taken at an average of 10 or 12 an over which would have meant the dash to the target becoming that much simpler for Pakistan.
The final featured such good cricket throughout the day that it would be churlish to pick on the ifs and buts and draw conclusions based on the imponderables. This was not the match for great technical analysis It was cricket that warmed the heart enriched the spirit and kept the mind in thrall. And that is far greater than who won or how they did it or even why they did it.
It was worth going miles to see an event of this nature a clean, non-contentious match that flowed from the very start. So well was the event rolling that Pakistan could for once, be complimented for bowling its 50 over’s quicker than in the scheduled 215 minutes.
Great Knock: There was this great inning from Desmond Haynes which made watching a very pleasant expert. He did not make runs with the blasting power and awkward innovativeness of cricket played in a hurry. He made his runs in the manner of a master of the art of batting — calm super in control of events and bowling Haynes was however not up to it physically to make more runs in the slog overs.
The West Indies ended with a score slightly below potential because Haynes got to his century only in the last over. But the century was a clear highlight of the match. He did not tear the spinners apart. He merely cut the leg spin into surrender. This was his finest contribution to the West Indian innings which then got to near the championship high of 279 set by Pakistan against India and which the side was to match before the evening was out.
Salim Malik is batting better than ever before. There is a rounded look to his presence at the crease which goes beyond the usual talk of nick and form etc. He is clearly at the height of his prowess. There cannot be a better good-wicket batsman in world cricket today.
Salim Malik looks leaner than most. But he packs power into his shot which comes from steely muscles, as the strength of his wrists is enormous. There is tremendous innovation in sending the ball around to where he places it. He keeps peppering the point fence with his square drives and cut drives.
Javed Miandad has been known to play the arrogantly powerful one-day innings. But even he would have been hard-pressed in his prime to play the ball in this kind of command performance that Malik is putting up these days Malik will be the India killer at the batting crease on this tour Some years ago the trio of Zaheer Abbas. Javed Miandad and Mudassar Nazar were taking the Indian bowling apart Salim Malik might well be the one-man army in this battle.
Imran Khan is the master of his own destiny Let there be some trouble in the innings and that is the day Imran will come good. He has shown how much he has changed as a batsman in the way in which he has made runs in the end overs. This he does by ensuring he does nothing silly to get out earlier. Imran Khan will not be the one to be caught trying to do too much too soon.
Vital breaks: Imran Khan had taken the ball in the morning like a martyr rather than a killer. The West Indian innings were too well-established for anyone to be able to check the run flow by bowling in a negative vein. Imran Khan took the wickets and so staunched the run flow. It was not an effort he wished to undertake but there was a crying need for him to bowl that day.
There was no great crisis when Imran came in to bat. The trouble came only when Salim Malik got out If Imran Khan had not been around to take the match to its conclusion there might have been a different result altogether. Ijaz Ahmed had done splendidly so too Rameez Raja and Malik had excelled. Still, there were more runs to be made if such a target was to be met.
Imran made many of them. Moreover, he played around with the order as is his wont. He brought Akram Raza up throwing the youngster into the batting fray as it were. Imran masterminded the stand that brought his side near enough to victory without having to rely only on Akarm’s strike power. What if Akram had been promoted as the last ace only to find that card being trumped?
Imran is a law unto himself. He has never been guilty of sticking to any batting order. Right from mixing the partners for Rameez Raja to sending Ejaz Ahmed up or down. Imran does just about anything he wants. There is no great argument against success Imran has always come off every time he has done something unusual. Wasim Akram smashed the first ball he received. It is almost as if he has programmed his bat to smack anything that comes within the range that swings to the onside. But then he is no ordinary hitter of the ball. He strikes it cleanly too often to be called a crude success.
Viv Richards smiled his way through the defeat. He was the sporting guy who knew the other side to win on that day. It is as well that Richards and his men stayed in the game up to the very end. That itself was a tribute to their spirit which must have been at its lowest ebb at the start of the MRF World Series for the Nehru Cup 1989. Pakistan won the match by 4 wickets with one ball to spare. Imran Khan was declared man of the match. The 22 men involved in the match contributed to the success that capped the championship. Could anyone ask for more? Here is the scorecard.