The blow was struck by Javed Miandad, when he scored a match-winning six off the last ball in a One-day match that Pakistan had seemed destined to lose, according to the tongue-in-cheek study to be published in next Saturday's British Medical Journal (BMJ).
That shot -- "heard throughout South Asia and much of the world" -- had a dramatic effect on morale, lifting India and sinking Pakistan, in their confrontations over the next decade and a half, the authors suggest.
They painstakingly analysed all 133 India-Pakistan matches between 1952 and 2003.
There were 47 Test matches and 86 One-day matches.
India won five (11 percent) of the Tests, and 30 (35 percent) of the One-day contests. Pakistan won nine Tests (19 percent) and 52 (60 percent) of the One-dayers. The rest were drawn or abandoned "because of bad weather, crowd trouble and assassination," the authors point out.
Before 1986, Pakistan and India were equal in One-day wins, at eight apiece. After 1986, Pakistan became the unmistakeable top dogs, winning 44 One-dayers to India's 22.
In Tests, the score was six to four in Pakistan's favour before 1986. But afterwards, Pakistan's tally was three wins to just one by India.
Thanks to that single stroke by Miandad, Pakistan "achieved greater success in both forms of the game," the study says.
"These data suggest that in One-day matches, Miandad's performance inspired an improvement in Pakistan's performance or a decline in India's, or both, but this effect was small in Test cricket."
They add, prophetically: "A single shot had an enduring influence. Now India must have a landmark victory of its own."
The cricket-besotted authors are the BMJ's deputy editor, Kamran Abbasi, and Khalid Khan, a consultant gynaecologist at the Women's Health Care NHS Trust, in Birmingham, England.