Marnus Labuschagne added another interesting storyline to his career having emerged as Australia's game-changer in the first ODI against South Africa on Thursday, albeit as a concussion substitute.
The right-handed batter replaced Cameron Green, who retired hurt after a nasty blow to his helmet off Kagiso Rabada before being subbed out of the contest in entirety.
Labuschagne was drafted in as his replacement and he walked out with the score reading 72/5 on a pitch displaying a lot of uneven bounce at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein. Australia were tasked with chasing 223 but were pinned to the mat on 113/7 in the 17th over.
Time was never an issue but it was a Herculean task on hand no less. Labuschagne displayed incredible nerve in the company of Ashton Agar, remaining unbeaten on 80 off 93 deliveries as he steered the visitors to a thrilling victory.
The duo stitched together an unbroken stand of 112, begging the question if Labuschagne has to be drafted belatedly into Australia's 2023 World Cup squad.
While time will bear the answer to the same, there's no denying that the South African-born Queenslander has staked a solid claim for the same. Interestingly enough, it's not the first time he has made an impact as a concussion substitute either.
With that in mind, here's a look into the three best performances so far by a concussion substitute in the sport.
#1 Marnus Labuschagne vs England, 2019
Let's start with the man of the moment himself, shall we? International cricket's first-ever concussion substitute played an instrumental role in ensuring Australia didn't squander their 1-0 lead in the 2019 Ashes at Lord's.
It wasn't a friendly welcome to the crease though for Labuschagne, who received a taste of what Steve Smith got from Jofra Archer as it forced the superstar batter out of the game. Labuschagne also took a blow to the helmet but was up on his feet in an instant, determined to take the challenge heads on.
A fluent half-century followed with strokes right out of the textbook as it marked a turning point in his career. Labuschagne's 100-ball 59 ensured Australia saved the Test and he backed it up with twin fifties at Headingley in the third Test, with Smith ruled out of that contest.
Such were his performances that he couldn't be left out once Smith was available again. Labuschagne's career has only looked upwards since as he went on to establish himself as one of Australia's most important cogs in the Test team.
He briefly claimed the top rank in the ICC Rankings for Test batters as well and has gained a cult fan following owing to his amusing mannerisms and idiosyncrasies.
#2 Yuzvendra Chahal vs Australia, 2020
The first T20I between Australia and India in Canberra in 2020 saw a lot of drama. Ravindra Jadeja tweaked his hamstring while batting before a Mitchell Starc bouncer pinged him on the helmet.
That got India deploying the concussion substitute rule as they drafted in leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal for their defense. Australian head coach Justin Langer was also seen in a serious conversation with match referee David Boon, seemingly questioning the move.
Chahal spun a web around the hosts after Aaron Finch got them off to a solid start. Picking up three crucial wickets, he turned the game on its head with debutant T Natarajan also chipping in with a three-fer as Australia stumbled and fell short by 11 runs.
Chahal walked away with the Player of the Match honors as India took a series lead in incredible circumstances. India's fielding coach at the time, R Sridhar, later went on to reveal in his book 'Coaching Beyond: My Days with the Indian Cricket Team' that it was Sanju Samson who first thought of the idea of deploying Chahal as a concussion substitute once Jadeja took a blow to the helmet.
#3 Shabika Gajnabi vs India, 2019
West Indies' Shabika Gajnabi became the first-ever concussion substitute in women's internationals when she replaced Chinelle Henry in the first ODI against India at North Sound, Antigua in 2019.
India were in cruise control in their chase of 226 with Priya Punia leading the way with a solid half-century. In a bid to prevent a boundary, Henry hurt herself by crashing into the advertising hoardings, forcing her out of the contest.
Gajnabi made an impact herself though, taking the catch that sent Punia back for a 107-ball 75 before dismissing the dangerous Harmanpreet Kaur. She also prized out the wicket of Taniya Bhatia as West Indies stormed back and stretched the game to the final delivery.
Poonam Yadav was dismissed with India requiring two runs off the last ball as the West Indies pulled off a stunning heist to take the series lead. India bounced back to take the series by a 2-1 margin but Gajnabi's impact went a long way in producing a thriller in the series opener.
Which of these performances by a concussion substitute is your favorite? Have your say in the comments section below!
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