India and Pakistan’s World Cup matches have always thrown up memorable battles and none more so than the on-field duel between Venkatesh Prasad and Aamir Sohail in the 1996 edition.
Chasing 288, at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru, Pakistan were off to a flying start with openers Sohail and Saeed Anwar adding 84 runs for the first wicket. Sohail, was particularly lethal, scoring his half-century at less than a run-a-ball.
In the 15th over, he smashed a boundary off the former India fast bowler and sledged Prasad by pointing a finger and the direction in which he hit the ball. Prasad responded in the next delivery when he sent the southpaw’s stumps flying and gave his own send-off.
Speaking to R Ashwin on his YouTube show, DRS with Ash, Prasad recalled the incident and revealed what transpired in the middle.
“If I have to sort of talk about that particular incident, the point is it was a World Cup quarter-final game. If you lose, you are out of the tournament. Also, it was India-Pakistan, you know how the feeling is generally. With the expectations and hype given by the media, then it was very important for us to win to qualify for the semi-final,” Prasad said.
“It was actually sort of a slap (via the off-side), he came down the track and hit the ball towards the point and extra-cover region. I didn’t expect that coming. It was a high-pressure game. 35,000 people in the stadium.
“Before the incident happened, I was at the boundary line. They were smashing us. It looked like the match would get over in 45 overs. I was watching the crowd, standing at fine leg. I could see everybody was on the edge of their seats. They couldn’t believe what was happening. That’s how the situation was.
“He came down the track and gave himself a bit of room and hit me for a boundary, he showed his bat and showed his fingers towards the place where he hit the bat.
“He said, he doesn’t accept that but he told me and I could hear him. We are quite close, I had completed my follow-through, he said ‘I am going to hit you there next ball’. I just heard him say that, I just used a couple of words and went back. There was a lot going through.
“As such, they were smashing us and no one could believe what was happening. I, for some reason, though I was not as quick as Srinath, I would never want a batsman to dominate me. It’s been my character. The moment someone dominates me, irrespective of who it is, I would like to give it back.
“At the same time, you have got to keep your cool, make sure you’re in the game, make sure you’re able to think well and execute well. A lot of thoughts were crossing my mind when I was going back.
“I had to make a decision. Then I said ‘this is what I have practiced all my life. Bowl in the corridor, don’t give width to the batsman and bowl stump to stump’. And I just backed myself, kept my cool of course, didn’t really go back to what happened in the previous ball or what’s going to happen the next ball.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines