Create

9 Times the middle-order won the World Cup semi-finals and finals

A young Inzamam-ul-Haq announced his arrival emphatically at the 1992 World Cup.
A young Inzamam-ul-Haq announced his arrival emphatically at the 1992 World Cup.
Vinay Suri

While India's top order is among the world’s best, it's good to remember that the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid also represented a dominating top order without winning a World Cup together.

A look at the number of match-winning performances by middle-order batsmen in semi-finals and finals of the World Cup shows just how important they are to the team. Can the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni or even Hardik Pandya do the same for India at the 2019 World Cup? It's still not certain and the team has just four months to get the combination right.

Here are nine times the middle-order was essential to the win.


#1) NZ vs PAK – 1992 World Cup Semi-final

Pakistan cricket changed forever when a young Inzamam-ul-Haq walked in at No 5 and scored a blistering 60 runs in 37 balls to take his team to the finals of the 1992 World Cup. He was well-supported by Moin Khan at No 7, who not only hit a quick 20 but also ensured that the tail would not be exposed. Pakistan would go on to become world champions, beating England in the final.

#2) ENG vs SA – 1992 World Cup Semi-final

A stubborn innings by Graeme Hick took his team to the final of the 1992 World Cup.
A stubborn innings by Graeme Hick took his team to the final of the 1992 World Cup.

All of us remember the bizarre fate of South Africa in the 1992 World Cup semi-final. Once the Duckworth-Lewis method was applied, South Africa ended up needing 22 runs in 1 ball. But they could have avoided all of this chaos had they stopped Graeme Hick, who came in to bat with England at 39/2, from producing a match-winning knock of 83 runs. It just proves that middle-order batsmen should know that troubleshooting is a major part of their role description.

#3) AUS vs SL – 1996 World Cup final

Aravinda De Silva hit one of the most important centuries in World Cup history.
Aravinda De Silva hit one of the most important centuries in World Cup history.

In 1996, the assumption was that if you get Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana out for cheap, a match against Sri Lanka is yours. But this was proven wrong in the semi-final and final as their middle order took command of the situation. In the final against Australia, with Sri Lanka at 23/2, a composed Aravinda De Silva took guard and scored an unbeaten 107, building partnerships with Asanka Gurusinha and Arjuna Ranatunga. A middle-order batsman should be a big match player.

#4) Aus vs WI – 1996 World Cup Semi-Final

Shane Warne will admit the middle-order was crucial in winning the 1996 World Cup semi-final.
Shane Warne will admit the middle-order was crucial in winning the 1996 World Cup semi-final.

Who doesn't remember the magical spell by Shane Warne that turned this match upside down, bringing down the West Indies from 165/3 to 202 all out chasing a meager total of 207 runs. But Warne would not have had enough runs to defend if Stuart Law (72 off 105), Michael Bevan (69 off 110) and Ian Healy (31 off 28) had not chipped in when Australia were struggling at 15-4. Sometimes the lower middle-order needs to protect the tail and ensure your team plays out as many overs as possible.

#5) Aus vs SA – 1999 World Cup Semi-final

Michael Bevan's contribution was overshadowed by the last-ball mix-up by the South Africans
Michael Bevan's contribution was overshadowed by the last-ball mix-up by the South Africans

The 1999 world cup arguably had some of the strongest teams of the past two decades. Some of the players from this tournament went on to become legends of the game while some of the matches have been etched in our memories forever.

Lance Klusener was the big factor for the South Africans despite being a lower middle-order batsman – but somehow the Proteas could not get past the finish line in the World Cup semi-final and continued to live up to their reputation of being chokers.

In contrast, the Australians proved once again just how effective their middle-order could be. When they were struggling at 68-4, Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan came in to make 56 and 65, respectively, to ensure they had something on board for their bowlers to defend.

#6) Aus vs SL – 2003 World Cup Semi-Final

During the big stages, Andrew Symonds was often a savior for Australia. Image Source: Getty
During the big stages, Andrew Symonds was often the savior for his team.

How many times has this man turned the tide for his team? Andrew Symonds walked in at No 5 in the 2003 World Cup semi-inal when Australia were struggling at 51/3. He remained unbeaten on 91 to take Australia to yet another modest World Cup total of 212 runs, which their bowlers were good enough to defend yet again. Sometimes even 250 runs may suffice in a high-pressure match.

#7) SL vs NZ – 2007 World Cup Semi-Final

If there was ever a Sri Lankan wall, it had to be Mahela Jayawardene
If there was ever a Sri Lankan wall, it had to be Mahela Jayawardene

Mahela Jayawardene walked in during the 14th over of the World Cup semi-final versus New Zealand and played a scintillating knock. He remained unbeaten on 115 runs off 109 balls, taking Sri Lanka from a potentially dangerous situation at 67/2 to 289/5. They won the match by 81 runs with Jayawardene chosen the man of the match. Middle-order batsmen should have the potential to play from the first to the last over of an innings if necessary.

#8) SL vs IND – 2011 World Cup Final

M.S. Dhoni - do we need to say more?
M.S. Dhoni - do we need to say more?

Fans in India must have been in a state of shock when Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar fell victims to Lasith Malinga and returned to the pavilion early. At 31/2, it was Gautam Gambhir and a young Virat Kohli who laid the foundation for a big chase. While Gambhir played the role of sheet anchor, it was MS Dhoni who led from the front and put the final touches on India's World Cup win. Special mention must also go to Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, both of whom played crucial knocks in the tournament.

#9) SA vs NZ – 2015 World Cup Semi-Final

South Africans had no clue of what had hit them
South Africans had no clue of what had hit them

This is another match that will haunt South Africa for a long time. They wouldn’t have imagined that New Zealand could chase 299 runs in 43 overs in a high-pressure semi-final. But Grant Elliott and Cory Anderson made it possible, building a match-winning partnership of 103 runs to take New Zealand to the final of the 2015 World Cup. Elliott, who walked in at No 5, remained unbeaten on 84 to take his team past the finish line. He became a national hero for his effort.

Edited by sam.abraham

Comments

Quick Links

More from Sportskeeda
Fetching more content...