Slaughtered by the Lamb

Allan Lamb, with just the tail-enders for company, took England to a thrilling win againt West Indies in Gujranwala.-PICS: THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

“Lamb’s leg leaves England limp,” quipped The Guardian when Allan Lamb’s injury had hindered his side. That the South African native was crucial to his adopted country’s cause became evident in the 1987 Reliance Cup.

Against West Indies’ 243 for seven, England wobbled at 162 for 7. Like a seasoned general attuned to the carnage of battle, the No. 5 batsman took charge, with the tail-enders for company. Victory was 82 runs away but the Caribbean quicks came in for slaughter.

Five boundaries and a six adorned his 68-ball 67. Secure on his shoulders, England sneaked home with three balls to spare. “I had been in such situations before, so I was fairly confident that we could get the runs as long as I remained at the crease,” reminisced Lamb later.

At his sober best

Nicknamed the ‘keg on legs,’ for his beer drinking feats, David Boon was at his sober best for Australia in the final against England. His 75 off 125 balls proved to be Australia’s pillar of strength from which the assault on the old enemy was launched. The stocky opener had lent it an air of solidity, with Dean Jones, Allan Border and Mike Veletta chipping in for Australia’s total of 253 for five.

The Calcutta crowd, cheering wildly for Australia, sprang to its feet each time the rotund run-getter’s rapier sent the ball to the ropes. After England’s chase stuttered to a stop, seven short of target, Boon, adjudged Man of the Match, broke into song in the dressing room, the walrus moustache rising, as if in tribute to Australia’s maiden triumph.

Gentle genius

Down to its last wicket pair, Pakistan needed 14 off the last over against West Indies. Four came from the first three balls. Abdul Qadir struck Courtney Walsh for a six and then took a couple. Two more were required off the last ball.

Walsh running in to bowl the last delivery saw non-striker Salim Jaffar back up too far. Had the wiry speedster broken stumps at the bowler’s end to run out the tail-ender, a Caribbean victory was assured.

Instead he stopped, cautioned Jaffar and returned to his bowling mark. “I was let off with a warning by the bowler. We went on to win the match, while the defeat cost the West Indies a place in the semifinal. But that was the true spirit of the game,” Jaffar acknowledged.

Masterstroke

Sunil Gavaskar... scintillating century against New Zealand.-

Sunil Gavaskar was blamed for a dropping net run-rate, which bore the risk of India running into Pakistan in the semifinals. A 114-ball 50 against Zimbabwe in the previous game hardly helped when facing New Zealand in Nagpur.

To top Group A, India, in 42.2 overs, had to overhaul the Kiwis’ total of 221 for nine. The Little Master matched Krishnamachari Srikkanth’s flamboyance, soon outshining his partner. The total touched 50 in just 7.1 overs with Gavaskar logging 30 against Srikkanth’s 17. The team total reached three figures in an almost identical span.

Though Srikkanth fell at 75, Gavaskar batted on, helping himself to 10 fours and three sixes for an unbeaten 103. India’s objective was attained in just 32.1 overs. Not least of his travails was a high fever Gavaskar was suffering from!

Back with a bang

Licking his wounds after leading Australia to losses against Pakistan, England and India in the Sharjah Cup, the last ODI tournament before the World Cup, Geoff Marsh had more than a few scores to settle at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, Madras against India. Conditions weren’t exactly conducive, with temperatures upwards of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Neither was he at the peak of his form.

In battling the odds, the Western Australian partnered David Boon, Dean Jones and Allan Border for a Man of the Match award-winning 110, with one six and seven fours. Marsh’s knock helped his side post a sizeable 270 for six. At the end of the tournament he was Australia’s second highest run-getter (the tournament’s third) with a tally of 428.

A. Joseph Antony