“Pushpa, quickly get ready! I have come to pick you up to watch the second half of the cricket match. India is all out for 125. I am surrounded in my portion of the stadium by Pakistan fans and they were at their loudest in supporting their players. I was the lone Indian supporter and got carried away to oppose them. To prove my loyalty, I have placed a friendly bet that India will win…200 UAE Dirhams each with a few of them. It is 2 to 1 in India’s favour. India is going to win this match. It would be interesting to watch.” I rushed home during the innings break to take my wife to the match.
Pakistan won the toss and elected to field. They demolished Indian batting stalwarts like Ravi Shastri, Srikkanth, Vengsarkar, Gavaskar, Amarnath, Madanlal, and Viswanath. Only Azharuddin and Kapil Dev were the major contributors. Imran Khan, Pakistan’s ace bowler was merciless in his pace and had 6 wickets to his name. India wound up for a paltry 125.
Driving a distance of over 20km in about 20 minutes from the Sharjah Cricket Stadium to Dubai, we were back in time before the second inning began. It was Friday, 22 March 1985, the weekend holiday. Anand (my son) developed Mumps and Pushpa stayed back with him. Meeta and Seema were with me all through the match.
Pushpa resisted my insistence, “How can I? Anand is unwell. Anyway, why do you want me to watch a match which we are certain to lose. Just 2.5 runs per over? Easy for Pakistan to win. ”
“No. Just watch. I have a strong feeling that we are going to win today.”
Anand was asleep. When I continued to insist, she had Kannan, our part-time helper come over and joined me to the match. I collected the money to pay for the stakes, in case India loses.
My boss was one of the of Committee members of the Sharjah Cricket Association and could manage to buy VIP seats. We had lunch at the stadium and there were some cricket players in the buffet queue too. Javed Miandad was just ahead of me with a friend. He said aloud, “I am going to blast India today. If we don’t win today, I will not return to Pakistan.”
Back on our seats in the stadium, all the Pakistan fans around us were mocking me. It was all in good humor. I knew some of them well. I handed over the bet amount to one of them, Mr. Jhumkawala.
Soon, India started getting wickets. One run out and two great catches by Gavaskar. Miandad came in to bat, struggled and could not get a single run in 15 balls. Frustrated, he tried to hit a lofty shot and was out for a duck!
Around the score of 40-45, they lost their fifth wicket! Gavaskar was in a mood to entertain the crowd. He had taken 4 catches and every time he put the ball in his pocket after taking the catch. Around the score of 85-87 they lost 3 more wickets. At the score of 87 for 8, my Pakistani friends started handing me the bet amount before walking out. They lost 2 more wickets at the same score!
All Indian supporters were enjoying their best. We were carrying a large Indian flag. The Bollywood super star Rishi Kapoor was in the balcony adjacent to us. He borrowed our flag and was waving for a long time. The flag never came back to us!
What a match to win! Well-worth the efforts to bring Pushpa! With pleasant memories we got back home. And Javed Miandad to Pakistan!