Throwback Thursday | Sachin Tendulkar defends six runs in last over to help India to Hero Cup final

no photo
camera iconcamera icon|

Tendulkar turned saviour for India in the last over

SportsCafe

Throwback Thursday | Sachin Tendulkar defends six runs in last over to help India to Hero Cup final

no photo

Bastab K Parida

06/18/2020

Welcome to the series where we present you a moment, a game in history that has shaped the way the sport has been played, in our weekly segment ‘Throwback Thursday.' This week, we revisit one of the most iconic moments in Indian cricket history as Tendulkar led India to the Hero Cup final.

24 November 1993. The City of Joy was still known as Calcutta, still eight years away from being renamed to Kolkata. The eastern breeze from the Ganges made the Eden Garden evening a scintillating affair, with spectators being at the edge of their seats as the venue hosted its first-ever D/N affair with the Hero Cup semi-final encounter between India and South Africa. Anil Kumble and Ajay Jadeja had reduced South Africa to a mere 145 for 7 before Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson added 44 to leave South Africa needing just six from the final over. 

Kapil Dev, of all people, had an over left to bowl, but captain Mohammed Azharuddin trusts a baby-faced 19-year-old prodigy from Mumbai, Sachin Tendulkar. Can he deliver the ultimate coup? There had been some screeching questions when the part-time off-spinner, the part-time leg-spinner, part-time medium-pacer started his short run-up. It was turning out to be a great climax to a stunning block-bluster, but the enormity of the occasion could only be detailed through the magnifying glass of the past. Let’s turn back the pages. 

After being cricket’s outcasts for more than 20 years due to the racial inequality policy, South Africa had been readmitted back to the sport in 1991 and it was a glorious time for a country that had started to embrace black cricketers in the national team. Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela started investing as much time in cricket as they did in national politics, bringing the tyranny down to create a level playing field. In all regards, this marked more than a fresh start for South African cricket and the country’s ambition of being recognised among the elites, once again.

After the 1992 World Cup, this was another great event that the South African public wanted on their screen. After all, the tournament involved India, Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka - some of the real big nations at the moment. This was also the first time in India that any event would be uplinked by a foreign broadcaster, Media Mughal Rupert Murdoch’s newly-acquired Hong Kong-based Star TV. South Africa’s national television SABC had the contract from the CAB to telecast in South Africa but India’s state-run Doordarshan’s Director-General Rathikanta Basu, with the backing of the Union Government’s IT Minister KP Singh Deo, argued against the same by saying the uplink would have an adverse effect on national security. The Telegraph Act brought to the picture while the customs department seized Star TV’s equipment at the airport.

It was in direct contrast with the liberalisation and privatisation policy by PV Narshimha Rao-government, but the decision had even put the South Africans in a spot. It forced Mandela to intervene in the issue himself and at the same time, the Supreme Court of India banished the Telegraph Act to declare that the satellite waves were public property and the board has the rights to offset the costs by breaking the rights up and onselling them to other offshore broadcasters while uplinking from Hong Kong. It worked like a charm as entire India and South Africa were glued to their TV sets for the match, which eventually turned out to be a huge modicum towards cricket’s digitalisation in the subsequent years.

After deciding to bat first, India were at the receiving end of a big jolt and in no time, were reduced to 18/3 when Mohammed Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar joined in the middle. Tendulkar, for all the promise he had in Tests, was no good in the ODIs then and had a point to prove. Mohammed Azharuddin’s wristy genius helped India get past 100, with Pravin Amre adding a substantial 48 to go with the former Indian skipper’s 90. Fanie de Villiers and Richard Snell put India to the ask, as the hosts reached a minuscule 195 in 50 overs.

In all honesty, for the kind of impact that the South African batsmen Andrew Hudson and Hansie Cronje had so far, it seemed like a cakewalk for the African nation. Add to that, India’s disastrous fielding displays during that time, it was a recipe for disaster. But every day is not Sunday and that particular evening in Kolkata proved that. "I wanted the bowlers to bowl an off-stump line so that we can contain them with a heavy off-side field. The idea was to frustrate the South Africans," Late Ajit Wadekar, who was also the coach at that time, recalled later.

While South Africa largely strung together, thanks to Hudson’s craftsman-like innings, a mongoose entered the field and the game had to be halted there. For the Indian team, however, that acted as a good omen. "I don't know how many of you have noticed this but because it was the first day and night match, there was a mongoose which kept coming in the second half of the match. We got some wickets when it came. Then there were some runs and again the mongoose came and we got wickets. So I was waiting for the mongoose to keep coming. The match got rather close,” Tendulkar had revealed it in 2017.

It definitely did as, after Hudson’s dismissal, Pat Symcox and Richard Snell followed suit, leaving South Africa at 145/7. McMillan and Dave Richardson’s brave partnership later, the visitors brought the matters down to 6 runs to win in the last six balls. But here was the decision to take? Who would bowl the final over? There was a mini-conference of sorts in the middle as Azharuddin didn’t know who to throw the ball to. It was then Wadekar sent twelfth man Venkatpathy Raju with the suggestion that it should be Kapil Dev. A natural suggestion indeed! “As I remember it, Kapil was a bit, just a bit mind you, reluctant to bowl. Sachin grabbed the ball". 

Everyone and their grandmother were stunned at the fact that the kid had been entrusted with the responsibility of delivering one of the most important overs in India’s short ODI history. Tendulkar bowled seam-up as McMillan ran for a single on the very first delivery but his eagerness to run for two costs de Villiers his wicket. South Africa were nine down now with Alan Donald coming to the crease. All Donald had to do was run for a single and give McMillan the strike. But history remembered it as Sachin delivered three consecutive dot balls, leaving South Africa to achieve five off two balls. 

A single later, the equation had come down to four off the last ball. A pompous situation, India had the advantage, with an eerie silence taking over a normally-deafening Eden Gardens. A four would have ended India’s campaign but on the other hand, another majestic Tendulkar delivery would have put India in the Silver Jubilee Final. For South Africa, their ray of hope was still at the crease, McMillan with an opportunity to hush the crowd that was having the home side's back for the entire proceeding. A lot was at stake as the Mumbaikar went back to his bowling mark to deliver the last ball.

Welcome to a Moment in History….

Cricket FootBall Kabaddi

Basketball Hockey

SportsCafe

Cricket FootBall Kabaddi

Basketball Hockey

SportsCafe

Cricket FootBall Kabaddi

Basketball Hockey

SportsCafe

Cricket FootBall Kabaddi

Basketball Hockey

SportsCafe

Follow us on Facebook here

Stay connected with us on Twitter here

Like and share our Instagram page here

SHOW COMMENTS drop down