On this day in 1996: India beat Pakistan in a high-voltage WC quarterfinal

Exactly on this day in 1996, India and Pakistan were up against each other in the quarterfinal of the World Cup. It was the first-ever World Cup knockout game between the fierce rivals and unsurprisingly, there was a huge buzz around the tie at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. With a plethora of superstar cricketers on both sides, the cricketing fraternity was expecting a cracking game. The teams didn’t disappoint.

India bat first

The game had it all – drama, thrill, banter and sledging as a jam-packed partisan crowd in Bengaluru witnessed one of the best games between India and Pakistan. The game started in a dramatic manner as Aamer Sohail walked out for the toss instead of Wasim Akram. India captain Mohammad Azharuddin won the toss and decided to bat first in the high-voltage encounter. Akram’s absence, however, did not bring much respite for Indians as Waqar Younis bowled a fierce opening spell.

But Sachin Tendulkar and Navjot Singh Sidhu made sure to hang around and did not allow Pakistan to get the early breakthrough. The duo shared a 93-run stand for the first wicket but used 21.2 overs for the same. Ata-ur-Rahman broke the stand when he dismissed Tendulkar for 31. Sidhu, on the other hand, went on to score 93 before being dismissed by Mushtaq Ahmed. India were in desperate need of a quick innings from their middle-order batsmen but the likes of Sanjay Manjrekar, Azharuddin and Vinod Kambli failed to convert their starts.

Jadeja’s blitz

When Kambli departed in the 46th over with the scoreboard reading 226 for 5, it looked like India would just manage to touch the 250-run mark. However, a stunning cameo from Ajay Jadeja saw the home side pile up 287 for 8. The right-handed batsman slammed 45 runs from just 25 balls to guide India to the big total. Waqar faced the wrath of Jadeja, getting hit for 18 and 22 runs in his consecutive overs.

As India finished just 13 runs short of 300, a sense of complacency covered the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. The feeling was further strengthened by the fact that Pakistan had been fined one over due to their slow over-rate and thus needed to score 288 in 49 overs. But it did not take Pakistan long to give the Indian team and their fans a rude reality check. Sohail and Saeed Anwar came out all guns blazing and all of a sudden, the 287-run total started looking unsafe.

Venkatesh Prasad’s moment to remember

The duo added 84 runs in just 10 overs for the first wicket. Even after Anwar’s departure for 48 off just 32 balls, Sohail kept playing the big shots. The stand-in captain soon reached his fifty off just 41 balls with a six. In the very following over, the incident unfolded that continues to be hailed as one of the most iconic moments of the India-Pakistan rivalry. On the third ball of the 15th over, Venkatesh Prasad bowled a bouncer at Sohail and gave the Pakistan opener a stare.

Sohail replied by fiercely slashing the next ball to the extra cover fence for a boundary. Before bowler Venkatesh Prasad turned back, Sohail walked down to him and pointed to the fence with his bat. And on the next delivery, Sohail paid the price for trying to be too aggressive. He tried to replicate the shot but could only see his off-stump going for a toss. Prasad was fired up and gave Sohail a rousing send-off as the crowd erupted.

It turned out to be a defining moment in the game and India went on to win the game by 39 runs. After Sohail’s departure, Pakistan kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were eventually all out for 239 in the 46th over.