Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya and Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi were two of the most destructive batsmen in the mid to late 1990s era. Both were at the peak of their form at the same time.
Jayasuriya broke the record for fastest 100 in ODIs [one-day internationals] in 48 balls against Pakistan in 1996 in Singapore. Afridi, on the other hand, broke that record against the same opposition in the same year when he scored 100 off just 37 balls in Nairobi.
I remember having discussions in school at that time on what would happen if Jayasuriya and Afridi were in the same team and they opened the batting together. I would regularly note down my World XI team and would include both the players in it.
The dream of watching Jayasuriya and Afridi in the same team came true all of a sudden when a match between India and Rest of the World [ROW] was planned.
The match was organized on 30 December 1997 by Sathya Sai Baba at his model village in Puttaparthi. A stadium was specially created for this match in a short time. It’s perhaps the only cricket stadium that has big statues of various Gods like Hanuman, Shankar, Jesus and Buddha on the boundaries.
The purpose behind the match was to promote unity among the various nations of the world through spirituality. The stadium offered a perfect setting to achieve the goal. More so with school students taking out a rally with the flags of every country in the world.
The dignitaries who attended the match included the then Indian Prime Minister IK Gujral, former Indian cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and EAS Prasanna, former Pakistani cricketers Zaheer Abbas and Hanif Mohammad and former West Indian players Clive Lloyd and Alvin Kallicharran. Syed Kirmani, another former Indian cricketer, was the commentator.
India was captained by Sachin Tendulkar and World XI by Arjuna Ranatunga. The latter consisted mostly of Sri Lankan and Pakistani players. The Indians came up with a full strength side despite it being an unofficial match. Apart from Tendulkar, they had the likes of Saourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Ajay Jadeja, Venkatesh Prasad, Sunil Joshi etc.
India won the toss and opted to bat in the 45-over contest and made a big score of 289 for 4. Tendulkar was the star of the innings as he scored 88 not out, followed by Jadeja (77) and Dravid (62). I have a slight memory of few aggressive shots by Tendulkar and Dravid.
Then came the moment I was waiting for as Jayasuriya and Afridi came out to open. They started off decently but their opening partnership didn’t yield much as Afridi was dismissed soon. But Jayasuriya scored a quick 45, followed by Arjuna Ranatunga’s 67.
However, no other batsman showed any form as the World XI was bowled out for just 165 in just 26.2 overs. Prasad, Joshi and Sairaj Bahutule had bowling figures of 4-37, 3-24 and 3-16 respectively. India comfortably won by a heavy margin of 124 runs.
For complete details of the match, click HERE.
Unfortunately, no video footage of this match is available anywhere on the internet. In fact, even a proper scorecard of the match isn’t available anywhere except a part of it here HERE.
Hopefully, someone might remember this match and try to find out any video after going through the article. The match was telecast by Doordarshan. They surely would have it in the archives.
Although it wasn’t a close contest by any means, at least the view of the beautiful stadium should be worth revisiting this match.