On the day of the summer equinox, two outstanding matches of different formats were held in the 90s. Pakistan played co-hosts New Zealand in Auckland in the 1992 World Cup semi final and India played Australia in Kolkata in a Test match in 1998.
In 1992, New Zealand under Martin Crowe’s innovative leadership, were one of the favourites to win the World Cup. They had to face Pakistan, whose form was lop-sided. The Kiwis won the toss and elected to bat first on a sunny day in Auckland. Crowe himself played a blinder of a knock, a perfect captain’s innings of 91 runs off just 83 balls to lead New Zealand to a competitive total of 262 in 50 overs. It was a tough ask for Pakistan and there were staring down the barrel at 140/4, until the young and burly Inzamam ul Haq decided to make the game his own. He alongside the experienced Javed Miandad struck a 87-run 5th wicket partnership to guide Pakistan home with one over to spare. Inzamam ended with 60 runs off 37 balls, unbeaten in the end. With this, Pakistan got an opportunity to win a World Cup for the first time and this was the beginning of Inzamam’s rise as one of the greats in world cricket.
Six years later, Australia toured India for a 3-Test series. India won the first Test at Chennai and today was the second Test at Kolkata. Australia were never in the game at 1/2 in the first innings, and India won by an innings and 219 runs. Mohd. Azharuddin, the Indian skipper scored a masterclass 163 not out on the way towards the team total reaching 633/5 declared. As a result, India won the series 2-0 and perhaps for the first time, Shane Warne was manhandled in a Test series.
Also on this day, Sunil Gavaskar scored the first Test century of his career against West Indies in Guyana, which led the way to a historic 1-0 series win for India in 1971. He scored 774 runs in the series, the highest aggregate by a batsman in his debut series. And also this paved the road for him to score a record 34 Test hundreds, which was broken fittingly by his ‘successor’, Sachin Tendulkar in December 2005.
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