On this day: Invincible Mohammad Azharuddin guided India to fourth consecutive Asia Cup title

By: Sports Desk |

Updated: April 14, 2020 10:43:04 am

Mohammad Azharuddin (Express Archive)

Asia Cup 1995 final was a match where everything worked in Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin’s favour whether it was the toss, his batting or his pin-point fielding. Azharuddin won the toss and elected to field first at Sharjah against Arjuna Ranatunga’s side. The day ended with him

First innings

Batting first, Sri Lankan openers got their team off to a decent start. Whereas Sanath Jayasuriya was finding the gaps and hitting boundaries, Roshan Mahanama was negating the threat of new ball and working the ball around for singles. Seeing the partnership grow the Indian skipper made a change and brought leg spinner Anil Kumble into the attack. Kumble provided the breakthrough in the first over getting through Mahanama’s defenses with the wrong one.

Jayasuriya followed his opening partner back to the pavillion in the next over as Venkatesh Prasad induced an outside edge off his bat. Asanka Gurusinha and Aravindra de Silva tried to stitch a partnership but the latter was struggling to time. de Silva ended up edging Manoj Prabhakar’s delivery to the wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia adding to Sri Lanka’s woes in the final. Skipper Ranatunga had his work cut out but he was run out after a terrific direct hit from Azharuddin. He departed after scoring just three runs leaving Sri Lanka four wickets down with 89 runs on the board.

Hashan Tilakaratne tried to provide support with a slow 22. Gurusinha was holding on to one end while wickets were falling at another. The left-handed batsman reached his half-century from 94 deliveries. In the death overs, he tried to accelerate along with Romesh Kaluwitharna (17-ball 18). The southpaw added 35 more runs from the next 28 deliveries he faced but fell victim to a terrible mix-up ending up getting run out by Kumble off his own bowling. He missed out on a well-deserved century.

The tailenders Ruwan Kalpage and Chaminda Vaas helped Sri Lanka post a respectable score of 230/7 on the board in the final.

Second innings

Out to chase 231, Sachin Tendulkar, who had scored an unbeaten century in the previous game against Sri Lanka, got India off to a good start. The Master Blaster pierced the field and constantly looked for boundaries while Manoj Prabhakar struggled at the other end and lost his wicket for a single-digit score. Champa Ramanayke put a stop to Tendulkar’s innings with a slower delivery as he went for the big shot and mistimed it to square leg fielder. India lost their second wicket in the run chase for 58 runs. Two new batsmen at the crease — Navjot Singh Sidhu and Azharuddin.

Sidhu and Azharuddin did not let the required run rate get out of hand. They also had the cushioning of the fiery start from Tendulkar. The duo dominated Sri Lankan spinners in the middle overs and made them toil hard to save runs. Azharuddin came dancing down the wicket, hitting spinners over their head for fours and sixes while Sindhu relied on finding the gaps and picking up ones and twos.

The third-wicket partnership soon made the final a one-sided affair. Azharuddin went all guns blazing and finished the match with a boundary over Ramanayake’s head. He remained unbeaten for 90 from 89 balls including five fours and two sixes whereas Sidhu scored 84 runs from 106 deliveries sharing a 175-run stand between them.

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As a result, India chased down the total with 49 balls to spare and winning the final by eight wickets. This was India’s fourth consecutive Asia Cup title win. Apart from the match-winnings, the charismatic Indian skipper’s admirers gifted him a steel sword in a gold-plated scabbard.

What followed was a 15-year drought for India in Asia Cup. It was in 2010 under MS Dhoni’s leadership India would go on to win and get their hands on the Asia Cup trophy.

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