Will India break the Rajkot jinx?

Written by: Suresh Parekh
Published: Monday, December 11, 2000, 16:20 [IST]
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Rajkot: Records show that Rajkot seems to have no luck for the Indian team. One of the driest cities of India, Rajkot has hosted as many as six One-day Internationals, out of which India have played five. But India have managed only one win at this venue and that too in a nail-biting finish.

Rajkot hosted the first ever One-day match at Rajkot way back in 1986 when the Allan Border led Australian side visited the country. This was the same series in which they also played the only second tied Test match at Chennai.

On a placid wicket India won the toss and made 260 for six, thanks to a sparkling century from 'Rambo' Raman Lamba (who unfortunately is no more - he died in Bangladesh while fielding at the forward short-leg, three years ago). Kapil Dev also hit a hurricane half-century. But the Australians were thorough professionals and thanks to Dean Jones and Allan Border they managed the winning score by losing only three wickets.

The second One-day International match was played between India and West Indies, which was a memorable one but not from the result point of view. West Indies won the match quite comfortably as 'King' Viv Richards took the centre stage wielding his willow to great effect. West Indies won the match by six wickets and plenty of overs to spare.

The very next year West Indians were here again to play another One-day International. This time their opponents were not India but Sri Lanka as Rajkot was one of the venues for the Nehru Cup played in 1989.The result too was shocking. The minnows of the game, Sri Lanka produced an upset win over the two-time World Cup champions in a low-scoring game.

The fourth One-day match was played between India and Sri Lanka in 1994, which India won and incidentally it is India's only win here so far. India made 246 runs thanks to a superb century from N S Sidhu, who made 108 runs. This was also the first match for Sri Lankan speedster Chaminda Vaas.

The fifth match played here, is now the most debatable and most talked about. It was played between India and South Africa and this was the match in which the CBI match-fixing report revealed Azhar and Co had allegedly "fixed" the match. Surprisingly in this match India were led by Sachin Tendulkar.

Srinath was promoted and was sent as the pinch hitter and made a half-century and India were placed nicely on 105 for three and a score of 250 was expected but then the so called 'fix' started. Azhar gifted his wicket and Jadeja made 29 but off 46 balls and from a strong position India folded up for just 185 runs. South Africa made it quite convincingly thanks to the half century by Jonty Rhodes. Hansie Cronje was run out by a direct throw from Azhar. What a co- incidence!

The last and sixth match played here was between India and New Zealand. India were coming straight from Ahemdabad where they played a Test, which again had a controversy regarding the follow on, which was not imposed on New Zealand.

New Zealand made a amazing start as Spearman and Astle went beserk and boundaries were seen flowing all over. New Zealand made 349 for nine, the highest score on this ground, thanks to a classic ton from Astle (120) and a knock of 74 from Spearmen. India challenged the score but in the end they managed to score only 306 runs. Ajay Jadeja was the top scorer with 95 runs.

Now, it will be interesting to see whether India will break the jinx and register a win here. Well the evening of December 14 will tell the story.

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