No conversation with former India bowler Venkatesh Prasad is complete without the mention of his face-off with Pakistan batsman Aamir Sohail in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal match. (More Cricket News)
In the winners' take all match at Bengaluru between the two arch-rivals, India scored 287/8 in their 50 overs. But Pakistan openers Saeed Anwar and Sohail were on fire posting 84 for the first wicket. Javagal Srinath removed Anwer to give some respite to the hosts. Then, the momentum completely swung India's way in the 15th over following Sohail's departure in dramatic fashion.
Reminiscing his on-field tussle with Sohail at Bengaluru, Prasad said that "He [Sohail] should've just gone back to his crease probably after getting that, but there was some exchange of words and a gesture that he made which didn't really go well. Obviously, with the entire nation and spectators who were watching, and of course, with me as well. My blood was really boiling and we needed a wicket."
Sohail had hit the fifth ball of the 15th over for a four to sweeper cover and tried to intimidate Prasad by pointing his bat at the same region, indicating he will play a similar again. But it was not to be. Prasad clean bowled the left-handed batsman to have the last laugh and the ever reticent bowler sent off his rival in an animated manner.
"There's not even a single day that goes by without anybody, whoever sees me, come what may, would definitely ask me, every single day from the last 24 years," Prasad told FanCode.
Relive the moment here:
When asked about the send-off, the 50-year-old said, "I would've been penalised for that sort of gesture because that's when the ICC Code of Conduct had come into the picture during the '96 World Cup; so I had to be very careful. And Shepherd was the umpire, so Azhar, Srinath and Sachin, everybody came to my rescue, otherwise, I would've probably been penalised or may be banned."
India captain Virat Kohli had recently referred to Prasad castling Sohail as one of the most iconic moments in country's rich cricket history.
Kohli spoke about this dismissal during a candid chat with India football captain Sunil Chhetri on popular social media platform Instagram.
"Where were you exactly when Aamir Sohail hit Venkatesh Prasad for a boundary... trash talked... and then saw his stumps sent for a cartwheel right the next ball?" Chhetri asked.
"I was at home. I celebrated in the same manner as I do today. For me, there is no clean bowled as satisfying as that in the history of the sport. It is one of the most iconic moments," Kohli said.
"That day, not many people in India would forget, regardless if you were a cricket fan or not," Chhetri quipped.
"Those memories are golden memories," Kohli added.
Prasad also made an important point about the importance of pace bowlers, when asked about the saliva ban. "Yes, I think, it's definitely, the bowlers, the fast bowlers, the swing bowlers especially, are at a disadvantage. So you need to have pace, you need to have 140+ or 145+."
He compared this situation with hockey and said: "You know we were extremely good in our skills in hockey, so when they changed the layout, the astro turf came in, it all became speed and strength, so now cricket is going that way as well. There is no saliva so it's very difficult to swing the ball so it depends a lot on one's pace."
Prasad also admitted that he had in fact wrote to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to fast-track Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Piyush Chawla and Ravindra Jadeja into the national set-up.
Prasad was the coach of the Indian colts which finish runners-up in the U-19 World Cup in 2006.
"These three guys -- Piyush Chawla, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma I had no doubt about their talent and their capabilities. I knew very well that they're going to go a long way. In fact, the moment the U-19 World Cup (2006) was over, I did write to BCCI in my report saying that these players should be fast-tracked into playing Ranji Trophy or the zone matches, this is what I had said," he said.