Prasad wraps it up for India
Trevor Chesterfield - 8 June 1999
MANCHESTER (England) - Australian fast bowling guru Dennis Lillee can no doubt claim some of the responsibility for turning the unassuming Bangalore-born Venkatesh Prasad into a world class bowler fit to wear the mantle of a man of the match award in a key, if potentially volatile World Cup match.
Yet it needed a five wicket haul from the Karnataka swing and seam bowler to bury Pakistan's unfurled hopes in the chill of Old Trafford today.
He wrung three crucial lbw decisions in the Pakistan innings of 180 which saw India win the Super Six struggle by 47 runs: the first was Salim Malik, given by Steve Bucknor, but it was the second and third appeals which turned the tide in favour of the big bowler. Twice Prasad turned and went up and both times David Shepherd found Inzamam-ul-Haq and Saqlain Mushtaq guilty as judged under the lbw law. There was no argument either, even disgruntled Pakistan pressmen were ready to admit there could be no argument.
'On yer bike, Charlie,' as the aggressive Tony Greig would say in his robust commentary presentation.
It was the sort of limited-overs heroes act which turns a game. Before Prasad there had been four other five-wicket hauls in this tournament; the best return by Glen McGrath for Australia against the West Indies with five for 14. Ironically Robin Singh (5/31) for India against Sri Lanka and Saqlain (5/35) for Pakistan against Bangladesh have stencilled their name on the bowlers' honours board.
But Singh would be only to happy to step aside and allow Prasad to take the mangnum of champagne, cheque and glory as the man who can bend the ball both ways, has a wicked leg-cutter and seams it sharply quickly worked out the Pakistan batsmen.
Played amid the sound of whistles, drum beat, flag-waving and the potent sniff of mouth watering curry blends with supporters of both sides heeding appeals to allow the game to be played in the spirit is has always been designed. It was, in this sense blessed with partisanship support, but of a moderate nature; communities at ease with the game and what was taking place.
If India's World Cup hopes, so long on a respiratory system despite wins over Sri Lanka and England have been revived through this victory they need to carry it forward on Saturday when they play New Zealand. As it is Pakistan's defeat, after the soggy point earned by the Kiwis from the abandoned game at Headingley in Leeds 24 hours before, is not a good omen at all for brave New Zealand.
There were a significant number of supporters from both sides at Old Trafford, but apart from the odd hot head skirmish, the centre stage belonged to the players and for Prasad, the rewards were fairly conspicuous. Now India have to go through it all again and for Pakistan those elusive two points for a semi-final place seem to be more than a stretched finger-tip away.
Defeats by Bangladesh and South Africa and now their old rivals India has not made it any easier. They have to beat Zimbabwe at The Oval on Friday to make sure of that semi-final place.
Yet Pakistan's batting was not convincing either. There were times they battled to find gaps, and the batsmen who could, or should, have won it were cut down through a spicy mixture of Indian tactics and a game plan which worked in harmony with their bowling. From the moment Saeed Anwar departed there was always doubt whether others would score quickly enough to put India under pressure.
Malik's departure to a perfect delivery from Prasad along with the dismissals of Abdul Razzaq and later the ungainly Inzamam, saw Pakistan lose their batting equilibrium, especially when Moin Khan also gave it away when attempting to force the run rate.
After that it was a matter of time with the innings capitulating in the 46th over.