People are always excited to see the unexpected, aren’t they? Like how football fans love to see the goalkeeper trying to pop-up in the corner and try to sneak in the header. Or, defenders scoring, which rarely happens. Similarly in cricket, people love watching the tail wag and the tail-enders scoring; unless you’re on the receiving end. There have been some truly fantastic and memorable innings in the past by the lower order batsmen in International cricket. My pick for the all-time best 5 are listed below.
1. Shane Warne (99): This renowned spin legend who took close to a 1000 wickets in International cricket is also remembered for his fantastic innings of 99 in test cricket vs. New Zealand, falling short of a century by just one run. He was run out by Daniel Vettori as his excitement to get to his century in front of his home crowd took over.
2. Zaheer Khan (75) : Zaheer Khan, being a fantastic no.10 for India, has had 3 half centuries in his career. His best innings came at Dhaka in a test match, where he scored 75 in an incredible 148 run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar. This innings from Zaheer helped India in a miraculous fightback, as the tail-ender provided some game-changing crucial runs.
3. Ravichandran Ashwin (103*) : This fresh Indian off-spinner has always chipped in with some vital runs at the depth for India. But in the series against the West Indies in November, he scored a fantastic hundred in Mumbai at the Wankhede stadium where a jam-packed crowd was chanting his name. Ashwin made an incredible 103 not out of just 118 deliveries to see India save the follow-on and force West-Indies to bat again. Despite the heroics in what was a very dramatic game, India fell short of just 1 run and the test resulted in a draw.
4. Brett Lee (51*) : The Australian pace-man scored a quick-fire half century against England in 2006 to get Australia to a respective total. Lee, who has contributed with the bat a fair few times, scored a half century facing bowlers like Steve Harmison, Andrew Flintoff and Ashley Giles. This was a memorable win for Australian fans and Brett Lee as they went on to win the game.
5. Ravi Rampaul (86*) : Last but not the least, a powerful innings by Ravi Rampaul. Rampaul scored a staggering 86 of just 72 balls as he helped the West Indies to reach a respectable 269 in their 50 overs after they had lost 8 wickets in 31 overs. They were looking all certain to get bowled out cheaply, but Rampaul saved the best for the last and gave India some serious problems and remained unbeaten.
This goes onto show that the bowlers underestimate the lower order batsman by taking for granted that they will not cause too much of a damage. But, in recent times it has been the tail-ender contributions that have altered results of a match. They really are giving their stint with the bat a fair chance and are most often than not, succeeding at it.