The game of cricket has a way of making heroes out of players in the most unlikely of ways. Batsmen end up winning games with their bowling and vice versa. On Saturday, New Zealand pulled off the most unlikeliest of ODI wins when they recovered from 140 for 8 to chase down 209. James Franklin was well supported by the tail as the Kiwis got home to a win that will be much cherished. Here’s a look at a few other instances when tailenders helped their side to an improbable victory in the shorter versions of the game.
England vs Bangladesh (2011 World Cup)
England batted first in the game at Chittagong and managed only 225. When they had Bangladesh down at 169 for 8 though the match was well within their grasp. The Bangladesh tail though had other ideas. Number nine batsman Shafiul Islam slapped an unbeaten 24 off as many deliveries to take Bangladesh home by two wickets in a tense encounter. Mahmudullah was the other batsman undefeated on 21 as the home side won by six balls to spare.
West Indies vs England (2004 Champions Trophy final)
England were always in front on the big day at London, and with West Indies’ affinity to collapse under pressure, the title was up for grabs for the Englishmen. Batting first, England managed only 217. West Indies, however, fell way behind the target when they crumbled to 147 for 8 in reply. It was then that Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw joined hands and led West Indies to a memorable win. Browne made a resilient 35 off 55 balls while Bradshaw contributed a more aggressive 34 from 51 balls as West Indies lifted the gloom of underperformance that had overshadowed them for over a decade, and shocked the Englishmen.
India vs New Zealand (Wellington, 2003)
India’s tour to New Zealand prior to the 2003 World Cup in South Africa hadn’t been a very memorable one. They did manage to win a couple of close ODI games though, and Zaheer Khan was the architects of one of them. On January 8, 2003 in Wellington, India dismissed the Kiwis for 168 courtesy some excellent seam bowling by their pacers. In response, however, India found themselves in familiar territory, while chasing away from home. The visitors had collapsed to 116 for 7 in the 30th over. Khan though held his nerve piecing together an unbeaten 34 from 42 balls. He aided Yuvraj Singh (54) in a partnership that took India to within nine runs of victory. Khan eventually saw India home.
South Africa vs Australia (Johannesburg T20, 2011)
Australia batted first in the T20 and posted a challenging 147 on the board. South Africa would still have been confident of overcoming the target. It was far from the case though when they stumbled to 84 for 7 in the 15th over. The Aussies were then hit by the unimaginable. Wayne Parnell and Rusty Theron, till then known for their bowling, blasted 29 from 11 and 31 from 16 respectively to leave the Aussies shell-shocked.
--By A Cricket Analyst