5 greatest lower-order comebacks in ODIs
An ideal playing XI comprises of six specialist batsmen (including the 'keeper), one all-rounder, and four bowlers. When the sixth wicket falls, the floodgates usually open, as a lower order batsman of limited skills comes to the crease.
Strike bowlers usually clean up the tail in the matter of a few overs, but instances of obstinate resistance from the lower order are not uncommon.
In limited overs cricket, these serve primarily to mitigate the gravity of defeat. And amidst the efforts to salvage their pride, a few players have snatched improbable wins, leaving the opposition agonizing in their complacency of not delivering the knockout blow when it mattered.
Disclaimers: Instances where no specialist batsmen were in the crease are ranked higher in the list. Also, ICC tournaments and series deciders have been given more importance.
5. Dhoni inspires Bhuvneswar to his first ODI fifty (vs Sri Lanka, 2017)
Many regard MS Dhoni as the GOAT finisher, and this has been his latest exploit. Riding on useful lower order contributions from Milinda Siriwardana and Chamara Kapugedara, Sri Lanka scored 236-8 in their 50 overs. Chasing a revised target of 230 in 47 overs on a sluggish surface, the numero uno opening pair in the current ODI scenario - Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma- stitched together a century partnership.
Their departure in the span of 4 runs triggered a collapse as the rookie spinner Akila Dananjaya bulldozed through India's famed middle order with his well-disguised googlies. Having nosedived from 109-0 to 131-7, India was in dire straits.
Dhoni's indifferent form in the first half of the year meant even die-hard fans doubted a comeback.
MS Dhoni started sedately, taking his time to get accustomed to the pitch and steering the nervous Bhuvneshwar at the other end, reminding a certain VVS Laxman at times. When the latter started timing the ball well, the ex-captain was admirably content in settling for singles to rotate the strike and playing the second fiddle to his partner.
Upul Tharanga's defensive decision of not persisting with Dananjaya when he was on a rampage also gave the pair enough time to settle down. Once the tumbling of wickets was stemmed, Dhoni's sangfroid attitude ensured that there were no hiccups, and even as Dananjaya ended up with a stellar 6/54, Sri Lanka was left to blame themselves for what could have been.