Over the years, India-Pakistan matches have enthralled cricket fans not just in the two countries, but all over the world. Some cricket experts even term them as fiercer than the Ashes rivalry between Australia and England.
With India and Pakistan set to lock horns in the T20 World Cup at Melbourne on Sunday, one of the most memorable moments in Indo-Pak cricket rivalry that comes to mind is the tussle for one-upmanship between Venkatesh Prasad and Aamer Sohail.
Who can forget the heated argument between Prasad and Sohail in the 1996 ODI World Cup quarterfinal in Bangalore. The two otherwise cool-as-cucumber cricketers confronted each other much to the surprise of players from both sides.
In the winners-take-all match, riding on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s 93 and Ajay Jadeja’s quick-fire 45 not out, India put up a challenging 287/8 in 50 overs.
But Pakistan openers, Saeed Anwar and Sohail, were on fire adding 84 for the first wicket inside 10 overs. Javagal Srinath then removed Anwer (48) in the 11th over to give some respite to the hosts.
The momentum swung India’s way in the 15th over following Sohail’s departure in dramatic fashion. Tensions were high when Sohail was timing the ball sweetly in front of the capacity crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
After hitting Prasad through cover for a four, Sohail, who was visibly pumped up, tried to unsettle the Indian pacer by pointing his bat towards the cover region, the direction in which he hit Prasad for a boundary. However, Sohail’s gesture did not go down well with the Indian bowler. Both exchanged heated words in the middle.
On the very next delivery, Prasad gave Sohail a befitting reply by shattering his stumps with a perfectly-pitched in-swinger. The stadium erupted in joy and to add salt to Sohail’s wounds, a pumped-up Prasad also gave him the marching order, gesturing towards the dressing room.
Sohail’s wicket changed the equation of the game as Pakistan failed to chase India’s 288 and lost by 39 runs.
In 2018, on a programme on Star Sports, the duo reunited and had a lot of fun reliving the memory.
Narrating the incident, Sohail said, “When Venky started his second spell, he was coming round the wicket and he was focused. He was troubling everybody. And I said okay, how to break his focus? And Javed (Miandad) had actually taught us over the years that when a bowler is troubling you, ‘thoda sa uska focus todo (unsettle him)’. But for India, it’s good that Venky didn’t (get unsettled). He kept on focusing. I was actually expecting a bouncer. I was ready to hit it.”