Monday, April 18, 2011

Opinions on... Chetan Sharma

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Chetan Sharma did not have a particularly bad debut in Tests. It was against Pakistan in Pakistan and he bowled quite admirably. However it was Azeem Hafeez who stole the show for Pakistan in that Test. Yes, he was the bowler with the missing middle fingers.

Chetan Sharma's debut series had to be abandoned due to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Perhaps that was a bad omen. Its wasn't an auspicious start to Chetan Sharma's career.

Normally a cricketer who wins a Test for you at Lords, scores a ODI 100 in a global tournament as a pinch hitter and secures a world-cup hat-trick; at the time he accomplished these feats; should have had a decent career.

Chetan Sharma didn't.

That last ball six 25 years ago, defined Chetan Sharma's career. And the man who hit it was not an Ijaz Faqih or a Mansoor Elahi.

It was the great Javed Miandad.

Anyone lesser known; and probably the six would have passed as a freak incident. Javed Miandad made it count. For more than a decade he used it to play on India's phyche.

Its funny, I remember each of these Chetan Sharma's feats fairly vividly. I remember where I was and the emotions as the events were captured on the live TV, live radio or news reports.

It was the summer holidays when Dilip Vengsarkar's 3rd consecutive century at Lord and Chetan Sharma's 5 wickets negated Graham Gooch's 100 at Lords. Updates were largely via news reports on All India Radio. Being away from Bombay meant no Television. I don't know how, but even without Statsguru, Circinfo previews and pre-game shows, I was aware of the significance of winning a Test Match at Lords. I also knew its not something that's going to happen frequently. That is the pull of Test Match cricket, you somehow know what you need to know and appreciate the game.

I was at home, watching live TV and delirious with joy as Chetan Sharma claimed his hat-trick against New Zealand

The local train on the Central railway was jam packed; in a way only someone from Bombay can appreciate. Yet every run Chetan Sharma scored against England; on his way to his maiden 100; was relayed across the whole compartment. Someone had a transistor on board and was tweeting updates. Riding on Chetan Sharma's 100 India beat England in the Nehru cup.

When Javed Miandad hit that last ball six, I was at home alone watching it live on TV and relaying almost the entire last over to a stranger on the phone. The man had called through out the day to get updates. I think he was a co-worker from my father's work place.

I don't know his name. I did not ask. If he said it, I was not listening. He wanted to know the score and there was no need for any other formalities to be exchanged. Actually I am not even sure if he said he was my father's co-worker. May be I simply assumed. There are no pre-requisites or pre-conditions to share scores.

I remember telling him a run out opportunity was missed. That would have closed the deal for India and Chetan Sharma would have had a more celebrated career. With 4 needed off the last ball, as Javed Miandad deposited the tamest of full tosses to the stands, I said.. "Its a six".

The next thing I hear is the dial-tone.

How rude I thought. I was mildly angry, not because India lost the game after being so close, but because the man hung up on me. That's not how cricket enthusiasts; even if they are across generations; should treat each other.

I was probably 15 then.

Ever since, I can watch any game of cricket, even an India Pakistan game with a weird sense of detachment.

The combination of Chetan Sharma and talking to a rude stranger on the phone did it for me.


Govind Raj said...

Score kya hua hai ?

It broke me too. In that case, I was the rude one. I went to a neighbor's place to watch TV. The relay was like Amrish Puri's face. But we couldn't care.

When the last ball was bowled, I was near the door. As it sailed over, I just left the neighbor's house and ran home with a thumping heart and a seething mind. Never forgave Chetan Sharma till India finally exorcised the Miandad ghost with a new generation !

Golandaaz said...

When exactly did we get over that six? Perhaps it was that 300+ chase in Bangladesh

Or may be even much later when we won both the tests and the ODIs in 2004?

Anonymous said...

"When exactly did we get over that six?"

grod, there were a few false alarms in the following years as maninder used to dramatically run through pak in Sharjah low-scoring games only to be thwarted by a Manzoor Elahi or an Ejaz Ahmed in the end.

another false positive result much later was when Hrishikesh Kanitkar slammed a game-ending 4 off Saqlain somewhere. (post-1996)

Finally, it came to me when Peter Roebuck writing about the Indo-Pak WC game at Centurion park said something like "....Sachin's upper cut against Shoaib brought to an end a decade of cricketing inferiority...."

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Zaheer said...

I have seen all the comments, my dears just compare the statics of Pakistan Vs India matches and then count wins for both. That six from Javed Miandad will depict every good performance from Indian Players against Pakistan from ever.

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