Javed Miandad has never done right by me, but I cannot bring myself to hate him. He could have made it to this list for his crazy attempted mimicry of Kiran More in the 1992 World Cup, but the pride of place goes to his fellow countryman Aamer Sohail and Indian bowler Venkatesh Prasad.
This duo played the hero and villain - the view depends on which side of the border you are on - four years after Miandad's antics.
I am not a Prasad fanboy, but will be eternally grateful to him for the magical experience of that March 9 night almost 19 years ago.
Riding on Ajay Jadeja's sparkling 45 off 25 balls at the end, India scored 287 in the needling quarter-final against Pakistan at Bangalore's M Chinnaswamy Stadium. For this Miandad-scarred fan, even this was not safe zone even though the Pakistani great was no longer the biggest threat.
I am not devout, but I sped to the market, bought a coconut and broke it at the feet of Lord Hanuman's statue at a temple. In my mind, it had to be done. I was aware Pakistan had started their reply and were going great guns, but this chat with Lord Hanuman on our personal hotline had to be completed.
Everything else had to wait because the end would justify the means. By the time I resumed watching the match, Sohail and the talented Saeed Anwar were taking away the game from us.
Sohail was leading from the front in more ways than just being the opener. He was Pakistan's stand-in captain and in imperious touch. The breakthrough came at 84, when Anwar fell to Javagal Srinath. Sohail, however, wasn't letting go.
If you are still reading, you don't need a recap of how he started baiting Prasad after repeatedly carving and smashing him for boundaries.
After a brutally smashed four to extra-cover, the Pakistani sledged Prasad (by extension the entire team) with swagger the kind I had never seen before. I know of Viv Richard's swagger, but this was arrogance at its best (or worst - the same which-side-of-the-border-you-are-on theory applies).
Some believe Sohail's verbal was on the lines of 'go fetch' and others swear it was more like 'I'll hit you there again'.
There was no place to hide. Not for the bowler, not for me. I pity what the crowd watching the action at the ground that night was feeling at that moment. Prasad said nothing and turned away from Sohail. His face looked drained of blood. Don't let him tell you otherwise.
Little did the world know, the payback was a ball away. Cricket, the great leveller was about to strike in the form of Prasad.
He continued from around the wicket. Sohail tried to smash it, was bowled and received a sendoff from Prasad that reverberated around the ground and India. What was said is not important, the stage, the drama and the climax are.If you think goosebumps in hindsight, this is the World Cup spat I vote for.
Parting shot for all cricket fans. If you don't have a hotline to the god of your choice or whatever supreme science you bank on, it's time to get one. Just talk directly from the heart, it works. Can't wait for the India-Pakistan clash on February 15. Bring it on.
(Views expressed by the writer are personal. If you want to share your thoughts on the game, mail your write-ups to firstname.lastname@example.org)
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