Bengaluru, September 9: The 1980s were exciting times for cricket. Money began to flow in and the sport took its initial steps into the professional, corporate world. Matches were beamed on television more regularly and cricketers, especially in the sub-continent, attained super star status. There were some stunningly talented players too in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Now, the cunning businessman in Abdur Rahman Bukhathir realised the scope of cricket and he blended it with his natural enthusiasm for the sport. There was Asia Cup already being played among the sub-continental teams. But he thought a step ahead and pitted the best from Asia against the best from the Antipodean region - Australia and New Zealand. Result: the Austral - Asia Cup was born in 1986.
It was also, perhaps, the first global tournament besides the ICC World Cup and a precursor to multi-nation events like the ICC Champions Trophy. The first edition, where Sri Lanka granted a direct semi entry as the winners of the Asia Cup, itself witnessed some good contests and none was bigger than the final between India and Pakistan. There were some tremendously talented players on either side and the volatile political relation between the two nations gave the match an added edge.
Fifties by Sunil Gavaskar (92 off 134 balls), K Srikkanth (75 off 80 balls) and Dilip Vengsarkar (50 off 64 balls) took to 245 for 7 in 50 overs - a very competitive score in those days. At 216 for 1, India were poised for a surge but a Imran Khan and Wasim Akram curtailed the late charge with a flurry of wickets.
Pakistan replied through one man - Javed Miandad who made an unbeaten 116 off 114 balls. Mohsin Khan and Abdul Qadir chipped in with 30s but that match was all about just one ball. The last ball of the match, to be precise.
The last over began with Pakistan needing to score 11 runs off Chetan Sharma. To compound the matters, they lost Akram (run out) and Chetan castled Zulqarnain leaving the calculation straightforward - 4 runs off the last ball. Chetan's intention was to bowl a yorker but it became a waist-heigh full toss which Miandad hammered for a six.
The sight of Miandad and Tauseef Ahmed, the non-striker, running with their hands aloft remained an iconic image ever since. Miandad became a national hero and from that point started Pakistan's dominance over India in Sharjah. As for the Austral - Asia Cup, it was played two more editions in 1990 and 1994 - all won by Pakistan - before submerging in a busy international calendar.