Many people are likely unaware that cricket is the world’s second most-watched sport. Those unfamiliar with it probably shun it as boring. Yet, cricket represents a contest rich in strategic complexity with unique team dynamics and individual brilliance. It has fierce rivalries and massive events that can create a sense of tension that few sports can match. Hence, it stands to reason that it has been responsible for many highly dramatic games that still get talked about the world over. In this article, we rattle off three such examples.
Australia vs. South Africa – 2006
The 5th One Day International game between South Africa and Australia happened on March 12, 2006, at Johannesburg’s New Wanderers Stadium. At the time, most experts regarded this as the greatest ODI ever played, and many still do, as in this iconic encounter, both teams scored over four hundred runs in their respective innings.
In a dramatic climax, few who watched this game will ever forget that South Africa needed seven runs off the last over. Andrew Hall and Mark Boucher’s efforts led to a tie, and the final ball saw Boucher hitting a four to secure South Africa the win, seen as a redemptive one for the nation. That is so because, for many, this victory made up for the 1999 World Cup semi-final choke against Australia.
England vs. New Zealand – 2019
In 2019, the twelfth edition of the Cricket World Cup got hosted by England and Wales. It was a tournament that featured ten participants and forty-eight matches. Over seven hundred and fifty thousand people attended the competition live. In other words, an average of around fifteen thousand per game.
The final of this World Cup got played at Lord’s in London, between England and New Zealand, who came up short in the previous tournament’s final. The last game of the event marked the fifth time this venue had hosted a Cup final, the most out of any stadium in the world.
The importance of this game was staggering as it marked the first time both nations would vie for a world title. In most viewers’ eyes, this match was a display of incredible strokes of luck and freak accidents. Almost nothing separated the two squads as the game drew to a close. And a Super Over (tied at 241) got required to decide the winner. That is something probably no bettor had laid money on UK punters’ websites to transpire. England was the side to come up on top in the contest that can only be described as on-the-edge-of-your-seat entertainment.
India vs. Pakistan – 1986
The 1986 Austral-Asia Cup, the first of its kind, got held between the tenth and eighteenth of April 1986 in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates, and told one of cricket’s finest stories. It was a knock-out competition consisting of five teams. These were Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand, Australia, and India. The final of this event saw India face off against Pakistan at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, with millions watching from home.
India made it to this final showdown via a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka, while Pakistan bested New Zealand to reach the tournament-closing game with a ten-wicket one. According to any hard-core cricket fan, one of the most enduring moments in this sport’s history is the conclusion of this classic final. The sight of Javed Miandad sending the ball for a six, for many, shall forever rank as one of cricket’s best moments ever. In the end, the scoreboard stated that India had lost to arch-rival Pakistan by only one wicket, with Sunil Gavaskar getting declared the Man of the Series.