By Hassan Raza
Throughout the 80’s and 90’s the growth of large expatriate populations from India and Pakistan across the world led to neutral venues hosting several bilateral and multilateral ODI series involving both countries. One such venue was Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates which had become a hotbed of India-Pakistan rivalry, its stands crammed full of expats and the enthusiastic South Asian cricket fans rooting for their respective countries. What Sharjah witnessed 32 years ago on this day is something it never witnessed before and something which is highly unlikely to be witnessed again.
The arch-rivals met in the final of the 1986 Austral-Asia cup after registering an unbeaten run in the tournament. Batting first, India put a competitive total of 245 runs. Pakistan had a poor start to their chase as they lost the first wicket with only nine runs on the board. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals and at one point they were reduced to 215/7. That’s when Javed Miandad took the responsibility of anchoring the innings with a well-timed century.
Photo Credits: S Kothandaraman
The equation came down to 11 runs off the last over and the Indian skipper Kapil Dev entrusted the pacer Chetan Sharma to deliver the over which would go on to become a legend for decades.
Thousands of roaring spectators and millions of fans back home all had eyes as well as hopes glued on Miandad, as Chetan prepared to deliver the final ball. With four requiring of the last ball, Sharma missed the yorker by a few inches which connected with Miandad’s bat and the legendary batsman smashed the low full toss for a six over mid-wicket. Even before it cleared the boundary, Javed Miandad had raised his arms, sprinting off the pitch in celebration as the commentator erupted.
“and that’s a six and Pakistan have won! An unbelievable victory by Pakistan and Javed Miandad the hero of the moment, this is unbelievable!”
Photo Credits: Dawn
32 years one, that miraculous six continues to be cherished as the most famous shot in the history of Pakistan cricket. With one shot Javed Miandad became a national hero subsequently making Chetan Sharma a villain in the eyes of Indian cricket fans.
Years after the incident, Chetan Sharma, while looking back at the match commented: “It was my bad luck that he really connected it well because you have a player like Javed Miandad in front of you. One of the best cricketers the world has ever produced and that’s why he is called the best because he sensed me way before I would have bowled him.”
Miandad, in his autobiography Cutting Edge: My Autobiography, recounted that six as he wrote, “Poor Chetan Sharma. They say he did try for a yorker, but the ball slipped out of his hand. Or perhaps it was the fact that I was standing well forward of the batting crease that threw him off his length. Whatever the mysterious origins of that last delivery, it ended up being the perfect ball for me and for Pakistan – a full-toss at the right height, slightly towards leg, all I had to do was take a swing and it sailed out of the ground.”After that, it was pandemonium. We had won, Pakistan had won, Tauseef had won, I had won. What a match! It is one of the best memories of my life.”
Photo Credits: Dawn
Numerous India-Pakistan matches have gone down to the wire but none of the matches had such a telling effect as the 1986 last-ball Pakistan win. One reason could be the fact that this match took place in an era when cricket was comparatively slow and the last ball sixes were unheard of. This is the moment that Pakistani fans recall every time they face the arch-rival in one-day cricket. As we complete 32 years of the historic six, fans look back at the moment that united the entire nation as every Pakistani, young and old, fan or no fan, came together to celebrate Javed Miandad’s unforgettable six off the last ball against India.