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The Eden Garden in Kolkata has endured some of the most painful moments in India’s cricket history. It was at this ground where the hosts were knocked over against the run of play in the semifinals of the World Cup in 1996.
Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya had played that game when the Indians, after having contained the rampaging Sri Lankans, were merrily coasting along until a sensational collapse had turned the tide in a most dramatic fashion.
There was no such drama when India successfully chased down a target of 316, doing it in a most emphatic manner at the same venue 13 years later. There were not that many people sitting at the ground to celebrate the massive victory that sealed the fate of the five-match series.
It were the boys from Delhi, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli, who stole the limelight by scoring chanceless centuries. While it was the maiden ODI ton for Kohli, a former India Under-19 captain, the left-handed Gambhir achieved the feat for the seventh time in his career.
They were involved in a magnificent 224-run third wicket stand that adequately made up for the early exit of the celebrated duo of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar. Their superb effort didn’t put to test the relatively inexperienced middle-order with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh not playing the game for different reasons.
India did have a realistic chance of overtaking the highest ODI total at the Eden Gardens when Sehwag and Tendulkar came out amid thunderous applause. There was silience at the ground a few moments later when both of them perished inside four overs while trying to force Suranga Lakmal who was extracting unusual bounce off the wicket.
Sehwag was looking to extend his purple patch when undone by the one that hurried off the pitch while Tendulkar, also in sublime form, was caught at the edge of the 30-yard circle. He couldn’t keep his off-drive down and he had to pay the price.
Gambhir and Kohli didn’t waste much time in getting their eyes in and they were happy to deal in boundaries with the young Sri Lankan fast bowlers guilty of spraying the ball on both sides of the wicket.
The introduction of spinners applied the brakes as far as the rate of scoring was concerned as both the batsmen were not prepared to take risks. They kept rotating the strike at will and the asking rate was kept around run a ball all along.
They exploded only after reaching their centuries by which time the traget had come down to double digit. Kohli clipped one elgantly over deep mid wicket for the maximum but he was caught right on the fence at long on when he tried to loft a spinner.
Dinesh Karthik was content in passing the strike to the well-set Gambhir who was in complete command of the situation. He brought up his 150 with the winning stroke with 11 deliveries still remaining.
Earlier in the afternoon Sri Lanka’s left-handed over Upul Tharanga had scored his first ODI century in 53 innings and more than three years that allowed his team to post a challenging total. Their cause, however, was helped once more by the fumbling fieldsmen.
Syed Khalid Mahmood has had passion for writing and sports since childhood. After having edited wall papers and magazines in his student life, he had started contributing to various international publications from an early age.
He joined the mainstream journalism in 1987 and his first book was published later the same year. After having studied at the famed institutions like Cadet College Petaro and Delhi College, he graduated in civil engineering from the prestigious NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi, in 1986.
He has earned greater fame and recognition in the field of media being acclaimed as a leading international sports writer, having worked for some of the eminent newspapers like The Frontier Post and The News International besides a brief stint with The Mississauga News. He has also appeared regularly as an analyst on various television channels.
He has already authored 12 books viz Asian Glory (2012); Reflections (2010); Cricket Fever: A History of Pakistan-India Tours (2008); Mission Caribbean: A Guide to ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 (2007); World Cup 2003: Top of the Charts (2005); Spotlight on World Cup 2003 (2005); World Cup 1999: So Near Yet So Far (2000); Pakistan’s Sports Greats (1997); Pakistan: The Land of World Champions (1995); Pakistan’s Triumph in World Cup 1992 (1993); The Caribbean Challenge: A History of Pakistan-West Indies matches (1989) and Focus on World Cup (1987 and 1994).
He has had an active social life throughout. Having founded The Young Champs in 1984 he became the District Secretary of Rotary International District 3271 (Pakistan) in 2015-16. Besides being the Founder President of the NED Alumni Association, he is also the Vice President of the Delhi College & Schools Old Boys Association. He is also a member of The Petarian Association, Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi Press Club, Pakistan Engineering Council and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.
His write-ups are carried by innumerable portals and websites across the world while his exclusive articles on the web, having grown in popularity, could be accessed on his blog at www.skmsports.com
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