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11 greatest big-match cricketers of all time

Krish Sripada
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What makes a big match cricketer tick? Is there really a formula? When Marlon Samuels played a second match-winning knock in World T20 Finals for his team (the first being his spectacular innings in the 2012 T20 World Cup Final), he demonstrated how some players just turn up on the big day.

Probably, these are the players whose special gifts are triggered by high-pressure environment. These are the players who probably love the big stage. These are the players who perform when it really counts, who can shoulder the burden of massive expectations.

Here we have tried to compile a list of some big match players who have done it for their teams over and over again. Mind you, players like Samuels and Gautam Gambhir (two crucial knocks in the 2007 World T20 Final and the 2011 ODI World Cup Final both of which India won) do not make it to the list because of the small sample size.

Also, there are players who have done well in tournament finals but not so much at the World Cup (Russell Arnold) and vice-versa (Kumar Sangakkara, AB de Villiers). Players like Gary Kirsten (second highest average for all batsmen with more than 500 runs in tournament finals – 67.93), Dean Jones and Michael Clarke just miss out from the list although they performed reasonably well in tournament Finals and at the World Cup, two important parameters for creating this list here.

Kapil Dev who averages an unbelievable 16.95 in 14 tournament finals with 18 wickets also misses out because of not-so-great performances at the World Cup compared to other legends.

Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar

Contrary to what most people believe, Tendulkar has more runs in tournament finals than any other batsman. He also has more runs than any other batsman at the World Cups. For those who believe this is largely because of his longevity, his averages do all the talking.

Sachin racked up 1851 runs in 39 innings in Tournament Finals at an impressive average of 54.44 (fourth highest average for all batsmen with more than 500 runs in Finals) and a strike-rate of 87.68 (seventh-highest) with 16 50+ scores (6 centuries and 10 half-centuries).

The next highest number of centuries in tournament finals is 3, shared by a bunch of other legends. Sachin also has 2278 runs at an average of 56.95 in 45 World Cup matches, more than 500 ahead of the next batsman, Ricky Ponting, who had the opportunity to play for a much stronger team in his 46 appearances.

The most incredible stat though is the number of 50+ scores Sachin has in World Cup matches – 21 (6 centuries and 15 half-centuries) out of 44 innings, almost one every two matches. The next highest is Sangakkara’s distant 12, with 5 centuries.

These numbers prove without doubt, how often Sachin contributed in matches that mattered, most memorable ones being against Australia in Sharjah, 1998 and in the semi-final and quarter-final against Pakistan and Australia respectively in 2011 ODI World Cup.

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Krish Sripada
And I prayed when Sachin bowled the final over against SA. And I smiled when Goran finally won the Wimbledon. And I wept when Zidane had to walk out. And I jumped when Bryant dunked. And I..and I..and I...sports..and I live to feel what they go through on the field.
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