Watch: Following an initially dismal show behind the stumps, Tariq Iqbal caught Brian Lara in a World Cup 1996 match between Kenya and the West Indies. Kenya eventually went on to clinch a historic win.
The West Indies were no longer the greatest side in the world by the time the tournament rolled around, but few gave Kenya a chance against them. After the match, the Kenyan team were invited for dinner by the West Indies side.
Whatever optimism was there among neutral and Kenya fans fizzled out after Curtly Ambrose (2-21), Courtney Walsh (3-46), and Roger Harper (3-15) bowled out Kenya for 166.
But that was before Kenya took to the field to bowl. Behind the stumps was Tariq, keeping wicket only because regular keeper Kennedy Otieno missed the match due to an injury.
Tariq was a fine batter in his heydays. He made only 16 in the Kenya innings, not bad given that none of his teammates reached 30. But now he had to keep wicket, presumably because no one else could do the job in the side.
The problem was, to quote The Guardian, the “bearded and bespectacled” Tariq, “wearing a blue headband and a double chin…dropped the ball so many times before that his own bowlers were laughing at him.”
His “stout figure and village-standard juggling had hitherto caused much mirth,” reported the Wisden Almanack.
These were not exaggerations. Rajab Ali, who would finish the World Cup as Kenya’s highest wicket-taker, hit Richie Richardson on the pad. Tariq strolled towards his left, and the ball raced to the fence.
When Sherwin Campbell shouldered arms to a low ball outside off-stump from Martin Suji, Tariq knelt as well. The ball brushed against his left knee and ran for four byes.
In the next over, he dropped Richardson off Rajab Ali. The ball went for four. Some encouragement (“just regroup”) came from Aasif Karim at slip, but it was clearly not Tariq’s day.
Despite Tariq, the Kenyan fast bowlers bowled both Richardson and Campbell. Still, at 33-2, with Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul at the crease and Jimmy Adams and Harper to follow, there was not much to worry about.
Then Rajab bowled outside off, Lara slashed and edged, and Tariq somehow absorbed the ball. To quote the Daily Telegraph, “the ball sank somewhere into his nether regions and the gloves clutched desperately, trying to locate it. Then, glory be, it reappeared in his hands and was raised aloft in triumph and relief.”
Tariq took a couple of seconds before he could appeal. Maurice Odumbe (3-15) ran through the middle-order, while Rajab (3-17) finished things off.
There was a Tariq moment too, when Odumbe bowled an off-break across Harper. It took an edge, but Tariq, perhaps rejuvenated by his catch, had followed the ball to take an outstanding catch – by any standards – down the leg side in what turned out to be his last international match.
The West Indies collapsed to 93. The Kenyans did a lap of honour in front of the 5,000-strong crowd. The dinner still took place, though the West Indies players were in a mood they had not expected themselves to be.
You cannot blame them. The outcome was perhaps as rare as the date of the match – February 29.
“Lara is Shamed by a 15-Stone Shopkeeper, a Dentist and a Tennis Player,” ran the headline in the Daily Mirror (Kenya). They were referring to, in that order, Tariq, Dipak Chudasama, and Karim.
Watch Tariq Iqbal catch Brian Lara here:
— Rob Moody (@robelinda2) April 3, 2021