Javed Miandad was known as the stormy petrel of Pakistan cricket in his playing days. With a knack for creating controversies even long after his playing days, the master batsman continues to be a rebel.
In 1981, he raised his bat at Dennis Lillee following a quarrel with the firebrand Aussie. He was also involved in quarrel with a Sri Lankan spectator and had a brush with the English captain Mike Gatting during the 1987 World Cup.
True to his basic instincts, Miandad was at his fighting best -- literally as well as figuratively -- against India at Sydney on March 4, 1992, in the Benson and Hedges World Cup in the Antipodes. The target of his hostility was India's wicketkeeper, Kiran More, who had a history of provoking batsmen from behind the stumps by chattering away in encouragement of his bowlers.
It was the first instance arch rivals India and Pakistan had met in a World Cup match. In reply to India's 216 for 7 in 49 overs, Pakistan were precariously placed and Miandad was trying his best to pull his team out of a hopeless situation.
As was his wont, More started his brand of sledging by vociferously encouraging his bowlers. Actually, it was his ploy to disturb Miandad's concentration. He knew that the ace batsman's wicket was crucial to an India victory.
Miandad was already having problems because of the situation his team was in and also because of the way the Indians bowled and fielded. Suddenly More let out a stream of invectives, and Miandad paid him back in his own currency in no time. It resulted in a series of verbal volleys between the two.
Before anyone could understand what was happening, the Pakistani moved away from his crease, turned towards More and did three perfect monkey jumps, holding the bat in both hands. It was a crude yet hilarious imitation of More's manner of appealing. And to think the Pakistani was admittedly feeling "very weak" and had to be rushed to hospital in the morning because of stomach pain!
"A bit of clowning," was all Pakistan captain Imran Khan had to say about his star batsman's antics.
Surprisingly, neither the umpires, David Shepherd and Peter McConnell, nor the match referee Ted Wykes thought of punishing Miandad and More, simply because the language they had used was foreign to these officials!
"One of the big problems with the whole incident was that no one spoke in English," said Wykes.
It was a poor excuse, to say the least. The three officials were surely intelligent enough to guess that Miandad and More weren't exchanging pleasantries.
"You did not have to be a lip-reader to understand the words that were being used and it would be a pity if young people watching it thought that cricket is always played this way. It is not," wrote Sunil Gavaskar in his column.
A severe blow was dealt to the image of cricket, but neither the Indian and Pakistani teams, nor the managing committee of the World Cup, thought it wise to book the culprits who were clearly in breach of the Code of Conduct. The authorities played down the ugly episode, buried it and made us believe as if the Miandad-More theatrics were no more than a harmless piece of gamesmanship.
"The situation was tense because it was an India-Pakistan match. Everything was at a feverish pitch at that point of time. The two sides were under terrific pressure. In the heat of the moment, I said something to Javedbhai and he said something to me in return. We had some arguments. I made a sort of jump. He imitated me. I thought the umpires and Mohammad Azharuddin [India's captain] handled the situation very well," More told rediff.com.
"I must say we won the match because of Javedbhai. After doing those jumps he became over-conscious and the asking-rate began mounting. Then Javagal Srinath got him and our task became a lot easier. It was all part of the game. The match was crucial, the atmosphere tense and his wicket very important. But I respect Javedbhai. He is a great cricketer, a great fighter and one of the best players I've seen. On the pitch we had few problems, but after the game was over, we were good friends again," added More.
Just for record, Pakistan managed only 173 in 48.1 overs, leaving India victorious by 43 runs.
Sachin Tendulkar, who scored 54 not out, was adjudged Man of the Match by adjudicator David Gower.
Gower's parting shot at the prize-distribution ceremony bowled one and all.
"I first thought of giving the award to Miandad or More; or to both jointly! But it had to go to Tendulkar," said the former England captain, bringing the roof down.