Sportstar's all-time sports classics: Lord's to Wankhede, the Dhoni way!

As the coronavirus continues to affect sporting events across the globe, we take a look at five classic matches from the past that are worth revisiting.

India captain M.S. Dhoni with Virat Kohli after winning the World Cup in 2011.   -  FILE PHOTO/PTI

The coronavirus pandemic has forced cancellations or postponements of most major leagues while the ones that are still running have been closed to spectators.

If the lack of sporting action has left a void in your day, here's something to satiate that hunger - our pick of five classic matches from the years gone by that you should revisit.

1st ODI, India vs Pakistan, Chennai, 2012: For a billion people, the world would stop when two of cricket's superpowers meet, in what has always been one of cricket's greatest rivalries. Yes, it's India versus Pakistan. Having watched cliffhangers on television, it was a dream moment when I was assigned to cover the first of the three-match series at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk.

With overcast conditions and a green top on offer, Chepauk was buzzing till the first ball was bowled. Within a few minutes, there was pin-drop silence as Pakistan ran through the Indian top-order. Electing to bowl, Junaid Khan had India on the mat with a brilliant spell of swing bowling. By the end of 10th over, India was reeling at 29 for five when skipper M.S. Dhoni and Suresh Raina started the repair. It was a remarkable innings from Dhoni, who battled cramps and scored a masterful century that helped India post 227/6.

India captain Dhoni greets Nasir Jamshed of Pakistan after the match.   -  FILE PHOTO/V. GANESAN

 

But it wasn't a cakewalk for Pakistan, the Indians had other ideas. Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked a wicket off his first ball in ODIs with a peach of an in-swinger that knocked off Mohammad Hafeez's off-stump. Bhuvneshwar soon picked his second but thereafter India failed to wrest control. An unbeaten hundred from Nasir Jamshed saw Pakistan overhaul the target in 48.1 overs with six wickets in hand. Although India lost the match, the gritty hundred from Dhoni in testing conditions was a masterclass.  

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2nd Test, India vs Pakistan, Delhi, 1999: On a cold February morning, leg-spinner Anil Kumble entered record books. He became the second man in the history of Test cricket to take 10 wickets in an innings.

Anil Kumble is mobbed by photographers after the 10 wickets against Pakistan at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.   -  FILE PHOTO/S. SUBRAMANIUM

 

It was a must-win tie for India after Pakistan won the Chennai Test. Chasing 420 runs, the visiting team was off to a brilliant start as the pair of Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi forged a century opening stand. Once Kumble broke the stand, he was unstoppable. While the likes of Afridi, Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammed Yousuf departed quickly, Anwar held fort with skipper Wasim Akram.

The five-for came with Moin Khan's wicket and when Kumble had Anwar caught by Laxman, the team sensed something magical was about to unfold. Kumble then castled Saleem Malik. Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq soon perished and the team burst into jubilation when Laxman caught Akram to hand Kumble a perfect 10!

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2nd Investec Test, England vs India, London, 2014: For the first time after 1986, the Indian team — led by Dhoni — registered a historic victory at Lord's.

Ajinkya Rahane displayed a batting masterclass with a brilliant hundred and showed his colleagues how to counter the prodigious swing of James Anderson and Stuart Binny on a green wicket. England was bowled out for 319 in reply to India's 295. Come the second essay, it was Murali 'Monk' Vijay who batted for 378 minutes to carve out a gritty 95 along with a valuable contribution from Cheteshwar Pujara. Ravindra Jadeja then brought out his sword celebrations with an audacious half-century as India set England a target of 319 runs.

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India beat England by 95 runs, the former's first Test win at Lord's in 28 years.    -  Getty Images

 

India had a perfect start with an early breakthrough but despite losing wickets, England was very much in the chase. It was then Dhoni who came up with a plan and Ishant Sharma executed it perfectly. The chin music was on as Ishant produced one of the greatest spells in Test cricket by scalping seven wickets. The wait was over. India went on to win a Test match at Lord's after 28 years. 

2nd Test, Australia vs India, Adelaide, 2003: Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting must be wondering how his side lost the second Test in Adelaide.

Ponting smashed a brilliant 242 as Australia racked up 556 with Justin Lander and Simon Katich scoring half-centuries. Rahul Dravid then put up a batting exhibition with a magnificent 233 and was backed up by VVS Laxman who made a crafty 148 as the duo forged a massive 303-run stand to help India post 523.

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Rahul Dravid celebrates after hitting the winning run to give India a four wicket victory in the 2nd Test between Australia and India at the Adelaide Oval in December, 2003. He scored a double century in this game.   -  Getty Images

 

It was then fast bowler Ajit Agarkar who rattled Australia with a six-wicket haul as India was set a target of 230. It was once again 'The Wall' who stood tall with an unbeaten 72 to guide India to a famous away victory.

ICC Cricket World Cup Final, India vs Sri Lanka, Mumbai, 2011: India lifted the World Cup after a gap of 28 years against an emotionally-charged vociferous backdrop at the Wankhede Stadium against Sri Lanka.

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This iconic moment from 2011 was even honoured at this year's Laureus Sports Awards.   -  Getty Images

 

Electing to bat first, Sri Lanka rode on an unbeaten classic century from Mahela Jayawardene to post a challenging 274/6. Lasith Malinga then gave the Islanders a perfect start as a stunned Wankhede crowd watched Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar walk back without making any impact. However, a gritty Gautam Gambhir dug deep and made a match-winning 97 along with skipper Dhoni who finished unbeaten on 91. Dhoni, who was struggling for runs, promoted himself up the order and delivered when it mattered the most. Batting at No.5 ahead of an in-form Yuvraj Singh, the Indian skipper with his ice-cool attitude forged a 109-run stand to snatch the Cup from the Lankans. Dhoni smoking Nuwan Kulasekara over long-on to finish the match in style will always be a sight to behold.

(This is a part of a daily series where Sportstar's correspondents will pick their five favourite sporting moments worth revisiting. Reader contributions are welcome. Send in your picks to sportstar@thehindu.co.in)

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