It’s a hopeless situation. The fielding side has their tails up, smelling the scent of victory. The batting side is in dire straits, though one of them is entrenched at the crease, but despite his best efforts, the score just isn’t moving along at the required pace.
In walks a man not particularly known to score big. You could be excused for thinking that the fielding team has only to knock him over and grab the win.
What follows is an anti-climax of sorts. The man starts connecting the ball with the willow, and before anyone else realizes it, he has already scored thirty-odd runs. The choke-hold is released, the fielders stunned, and the rival skipper realizes he has lost the plot.
This is what a cameo can do for you.
It is a useful little innings, but its importance to the bigger scheme of things is paramount; it could well become the difference between a win and a loss, as the Indians found out to their cost the other night at Mohali.
Here is a look at ten of these terrific gems which changed the entire complexion of the games that were played:
Adrian Kuiper vs India (63* off 41 balls), 1991
In South Africa’s first tour after their recall to international sports following the end of the apartheid regime, Adrian Kuiper played a gem of an innings in the final game of a three-match series against India, which not only propelled his side to a consolation win but also marked their first win in an ODI after quite a while.
The home team had put on 287 on the board, courtesy a solid century from Ravi Shastri and an explosive hundred from Sanjay Manjrekar. In all fairness, they should have won this game.
But Kepler Wessels, the former Australian batsman, joined hands with Peter Kirsten as they chipped away at the Indian total, and the departure of the former only served to bring in Kuiper, who went after the bowling from the word go.
Relying on deft touches and impeccable placement, the 32-year old played his strokes all over the wicket, and nearly replicated his Eden Gardens six with another powerful hit into the stands. In all, his quickfire knock was laced with seven boundaries besides the mammoth shot, as he put on the remaining 105 runs with the veteran Kirsten to get the win.