5 times when the tail helped India achieve famous victories
Zaheer Khan has been crucial for India with the bat as well In cricket, it is often seen that the batsmen get most of the credit. Whether it is a blazing start at the top of the order, or a sheet anchor’s innings in the middle or a calculated finish in the slog overs, it is all about the batsmen. While bowlers also get their dues periodically, the batsmen sit pretty on top of the cricketing food chain.Even while selecting a team, most teams go for strengthening their batting over their bowling. A 7-4 team is often called the most balanced, but a 6-5 team suits as well. In no team do you see more bowlers than batsmen, which goes to show how important the art of batting is. But it is not always batsmen who dominate the art in a cricket match. The bowlers have also had their say with the bat. The tail, a ridiculed bunch of batsmen who occupy the top positions in unwanted statistical tables – most ducks and lowest averages to name a couple – have also shone where the batsmen have failed, leading their side home in the most surprising circumstances.Perhaps the most famous of them all is Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne’s impeccable ninth wicket stand of 71 that helped West Indies win the Champions Trophy in 2003. Another incident involves Brett Lee and Shane Warne almost pulling off a stunner over England in the Edgbaston Test in the 2005 Ashes series, which is widely regarded as one of the best Test matches ever played. But how many times has the tail saved India from a certain loss? Have they been nearly good enough as other teams? Let’s look at 5 times India’s tail saved the team in international cricket:
#1 5th ODI - New Zealand vs India, 2003
India was touring New Zealand in a much-hyped series before the World Cup, but it had gone all wrong for Ganguly’s men. They had been thoroughly outplayed in the two Tests as they didn’t reach 200 in any of the four innings.
Their misery continued in the ODI series, with India getting all out for 108 in the first ODI. A chase of 254 in the second ODI went awry, and once again, a poor performance with the bat saw India all out for 108 in the 3rd ODI and 122 in the 4th. Suffice to say, India were not in a very good place.
So after six straight losses, India went into the 5th ODI looking to set things right. They started well, with Zaheer Khan picking up Nathan Astle and Mathew Sinclair off successive deliveries. In his second over, he accounted for Chris Harris, leaving New Zealand reeling at 3-3. The Kiwis never really recovered from that despite decent scores from the middle order, and finally huffed their way to 168, courtesy 20 extras. It wasn’t a particularly threatening target, but India managed to lose their heads anyway.
Captain Ganguly went first ball, and Tendulkar followed him for a duck. Sehwag biffed his way to 45 off 40, but his dismissal sparked a collapse. From 66-3, India slumped to 116-7, looking done and dusted.
New Zealand was looking at a seventh straight win, but Zaheer Khan had other ideas. Joining Yuvraj Singh, the pair added 44 runs in 63 balls in a brilliant display of counter-attacking cricket. Zaheer, in particular, was severe on the bowlers, lashing three fours and a six.
With Yuvraj getting out and India still 9 away from victory, it seemed New Zealand still had a chance. But Zaheer Khan assuaged Indian hopes by taking them over the line with two wickets to spare.