Sportstar's all-time sports classics: Indian hockey glory to Chang's tennis record

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.

Pargat Singh in action against Germany at the Champions Trophy in 1985.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

The coronavirus pandemic has forced cancellations and postponements of most big-ticket sports tournaments. If the lack of sporting action has left a void in your day, here's something to satiate that hunger — our pick of classic matches from the years gone by that you should revisit.

Cricket: West Indies beats Australia by one run, Adelaide, Fourth Test, 1992-93

The winter in Wayanad, unlike most parts of Kerala, can be biting cold. Listening to cricket commentary on Radio Australia on the blue-and-white Nelco, curling up under the blanket from 5.30 a.m. onwards at our home in Kalpetta, is an experience I will cherish always. The voices of Alan McGilvray, Jim Maxwell, Tim Lane, Neville Oliver, Max Walker, Norman O’Neill and Kerry O'Keefe still ring in my ears.

Till dedicated sports channels began beaming every Test live, radio was your only way to follow non-India matches. But those commentators of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC, along with the late Tony Cozier from the West Indies, were so good, you felt as if you were at the MCG or Lord's.

The Test match I am talking about was staged at the Adelaide Oval. It was the fourth in the five-match series and the hosts were 1-0 up, having won the second Test at Melbourne by 139 runs.

Merv Hughes.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

At Adelaide, Richie Richardson won the toss and chose to bat, but the West Indies could make only 252 before being bowled on the first day. Brian Lara was the only man to score a half-century (52). The big-bodied, big-moustached Merve Hughes took five for 64.

The fast bowler would also become the top-scorer in Australia's first innings, which folded up for just 213, giving the visitors a lead of 39. Hughes made 43 off 66 balls coming in at No. 8, one more than the more accomplished Steve Waugh. The towering Curtly Ambrose was mean as ever, claiming six for 74.

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By now it was clear that it would be a low-scoring Test. It became clearer in the West Indies' second innings, which ended at 146. But for the captain's knock from Richardson (72), the visitor would not have had enough runs to make a match of it. Tim May had mopped up the lower-order in no time with his off-spin. He took five for nine off 6.5 overs, which would remain his best Test figures ever.

Who would have imagined that May would also record his highest Test score in that match? When he took guard, the target of 184 had looked impossible at 102 for eight. Justin Langer, who was making his debut because fellow Western-Australian Damien Martyn was injured, was still there.

Langer showed the pluck that would help him play 105 Tests. He added 42 for the ninth wicket with May. But when his attempt to pull Ian Bishop turned into an easy edge behind the stumps to Junior Murray, it seemed curtains for Australia – 144 for nine.

Last man Craig McDermott and May were not willing to give up easily. First they delayed the inevitable, then they raised hopes of the impossible.  But when just two runs were required for what would have possibly been the greatest Test victory ever, McDermott, after batting bravely for 88 minutes, could not get out of the way from a brutal bouncer from the gentleman fast bowler Courtney Walsh. There was a noise, umpire Darrel Hair gave him out, caught behind.

But was it the gloves or the grills of the helmet? McDermott was convinced he did not hit that ball. That, however, was the end of the remarkable Test match, with May remaining unbeaten on 42. The West Indies won by one run.

Football: Argentina beats England 2-1, World Cup, Mexico City, 1986

Four years ago at the Taj hotel in Kozhikode, I had a lengthy chat with Peter Shilton, one of football's greatest goalkeepers. He hadn't forgiven Diego Maradona for the 'Hand of God' goal at the 1986 World Cup, but he also gave credit to the other goal the Argentine scored in that match.

Diego Maradona 2. England 0.

I recall vividly what the BBC commentator Bryon Butler said on the World Service radio when Maradona scored the greatest goal in history, dribbling past five English players and then Shilton at the goal. “That is why he is the greatest player in the world,” said Butler.

Nobody would have argued with that statement. Not even Shilton.

Gary Lineker's late goal – his sixth of the tournament – had brought England back into the match, but this was going to be Maradona's World Cup.

Since television hadn't arrived in Wayanad yet, I had followed that entire World Cup on the BBC radio. They used to broadcast the important matches. I had recorded some on them on my tape-recorder.

Tennis: Michael Chang beats Stefan Edberg 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, French Open men's final, Paris, 1989

Doordarshan played a big role in making tennis popular even in small towns which didn't even have a tennis court. That was the time when we had only one channel and everyone was forced to watch everything that was on television.

Doordarshan used to air matches live from Wimbledon and the French Open from the semifinals onwards. The time difference with Europe meant the Saturday and Sunday evenings would be ideal for the Indian audiences.

Michael Chang.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES

 

Though not a great sports fan, my mother also used to watch the tennis matches, along with my brother and sister. All of us watched that game in which a 17-year-old Michael Chang stage a magnificent fightback against Stefan Edberg to become the youngest Grand Slam champion in history. The match may have lacked the quality of Chang's fourth-round encounter against Ivan Lendl (it had also gone to five sets), but I will never forget the drama and the great comeback by this baby-faced Chinese American.

His Swedish rival, who had already won three Grand Slams, was leading two sets to one but Chang held his serves and nerves. His passing shots, strong returns and speed proved too good for the seasoned serve-and-volley specialist.

Chess: Garry Kasparov beats Anatoly Karpov 5-3, World championship match, Moscow, 1984-85

The first chess book I owned was the one on that great match between the two great Russians. It had a yellow cover with photographs of the two legends staring at the chessboard. It was authored by Mark Taimanov and Yuri Averbakh.

That was the time when I had started playing in tournaments and was advised by some to learn the game deeply from books.

The Karpov-Kasparov match had caught the world's attention, especially after it failed to produce a winner after 48 games and five months. Probably it was the most followed World title match since the one between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1972.

The battle for the World title had begun on September 10, 1984. It ended on November 9, 1985.

When Karpov went 5-0 up, it seemed only a matter of time before he scored the mandatory sixth win that would help retain his crown. But, his younger rival began to stage the greatest fightback in the history of a World championship final in any sport.

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When he made it 3-5, world chess governing body FIDE, which had favoured Karpov, stopped the match, stating that the players were too tired to continue. Kasparov protested, for the momentum was with him and FIDE knew that. The second match was announced with the condition that it would be limited to 24 games. The challenger would need to score 12.5 points to dethrone the champion. Kasparov scored 13 points and, at 22, became the youngest World champion in chess history.

Hockey: India 5 West Germany 5, Champions Trophy, Perth, 1985

It would be years before I got to watch a video of this classic, but I had listened to a report on the Sports Round-Up programme that the BBC World Service used to broadcast at 6.15 and 11.15 pm (IST). The 15-minute show was easily the best way to catch up with all the sporting action from around the world.

It was an incredible match, as Germany was leading 5-1 with just 18 minutes remaining. But India fought back.

A spectacular solo effort from the young Pargat Singh had made it 5-4 with two minutes left. Then Joaquim Carvalho scored the equaliser through a penalty stroke in the last minute.

Mohammed Shahid, M.P. Singh and Jalaluddin Rizvi were the other scorers for India, while Carsten Fischer (three) and Stefan Blocher (two) were on target for the Germans.
 

(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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