ODIs April 28, 2009

From dire collapses to respectability

There is something romantic about teams recovering from totally disastrous situations to post respectable totals since invariably the late order batsmen come into play

Recently a tri-nation ODI tournament was held in Bangladesh. The teams were Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The normal script for such tournaments runs like this. Sri Lanka blasts away the other two teams. These two teams trade blows and one of them emerges winner on points. Then the final is played. Sri Lanka wins by over 100 runs or by quite a few wickets with overs to spare.

The script was thrown out right at the beginning. Bangladesh lost to Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe lost to Sri Lanka and, with their backs to the wall, Bangladesh defeated Sri Lanka and the two teams qualified for the final.

In the final, Sri Lanka dismissed Bangladesh for 152 and everyone must have thought, "Ok, we are back to norrmalcy". Sri Lanka would win comfortably with many overs to spare. But, 30 minutes later, the score was 6 for 5 (or the Australians would have called 5 for 6). Jayasuriya went first ball, then Tharanga, Jayawardene, Kapugedara and Thushara were dismissed by the 8th over for 6 runs. Were we going to see Sri Lanka dismissed for the lowest total ever or Bangladesh win by over 100 runs. Slowly but surely Sri Lanka stabilised, still slumped to 114 for 8 but won through Muralitharan's heroics by two wickets.

My mind went back 26 years, to Tunbridge Wells. Almost a similar situation but a match of far greater significance.

I thought it would be a nice idea to look at such ODI recoveries over the years. There is something romantic about such recoveries from totally disastrous situations since invariably the late order batsmen come into play. There is also a wonderful innings played in most of these recoveries.

Let us first look at the criteria for selection of matches. The fun in this exercise is in setting up of the criteria for selection, which is very different to what I normally do. I have worked on the following criteria. The criteria has been decided after a few trial-and-error steps. At this stage the result is immaterial and is not one of the selection criteria.

1. From <20 for 4 to 200+ or
2. From <25 for 5 to 200+ or
3. From <30 for 6 to 150+ or
4. From <50 for 7 to 150+ or
5. From <50 for 8 to 150+ or
The results are tabulated below. Quite an interesting collection of matches. There are overlapping situations in couple of matches which have been marked.
2005 2273 Ind 44 for 8 to 164 all out ( 4.21) vs Nzl Lost

2000 1612 Pak 49 for 7 to 153 all out ( 3.12) vs Saf Lost (Earlier 19 for 6, 18 for 5 and 13 for 4)

2009 2794 Slk 6 for 5 to 153 for 8 (25.50) vs Bng Won

1983 0216 Ind 17 for 5 to 266 for 8 (15.65) vs Zim Won (Earlier 9 for 4)

1997 1248 Pak 9 for 4 to 262 for 9 (29.11) vs Saf Lost 2002 1906 Zim 13 for 4 to 210 all out (16.15) vs Pak Lost 2006 2335 Nzl 13 for 4 to 204 for 7 (15.69) vs Win Won 1996 1082 Aus 15 for 4 to 207 for 8 (13.80) vs Win Won 1988 0487 Ind 15 for 4 to 205 all out (13.67) vs Win Lost 2008 2702 Bng 16 for 4 to 210 all out (13.12) vs Pak Lost 1999 1473 Ind 17 for 4 to 205 all out (12.06) vs Aus Lost 2000 1622 Saf 19 for 4 to 206 for 7 (10.84) vs Aus Won

In the first match, India were reeling at 44 for 8 while chasing a meagre total of 215 in Bulawayo. Then the unlikely pair of JP Yadav and Irfan Pathan stepped in and took the total to 162, raising visions of an impossible win. Then Bond came back and dismissed Pathan and India lost by 51 runs. Bond's opening spell was one of the greatest ever. He finished with 6 for 19.

In the second match, Pakistan slumped to 18 for 5, 19 for 6, 49 for 7 (and 98 for 9), Terbrugge doing most of the damage. Azhar amd Mushtaq took the total to 153. This total was overhauled comfortably by South Africa.

We have talked enough earlier about the third match. This and the following match should rank among the greatest of recoveries especially as the teams won.

Now we come to the match, which, if it had been scripted by a writer, would have been labelled impossible. India were reeling at 9 for 4 and then 17 for 5 against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells. Then Kapil Dev played one of the greatest ODI innings ever of 175 not out and took India to 266 for 8. The rest was history. India defeated Zimbabwe and went on to win the World Cup, the greatest of India's cricket achievements. The importance of this recovery cannot be over-emphasised since a loss would have meant a possible exit from the World Cup.

Then come a host of recoveries from nothing-for-4 situations. The most important among these matches is match # 1082, which was the World Cup 1996 Semi Final. Australia were facing a still strong West Indies. Ambrose and Bishop reduced them to 15 for 4. Then Stuart Law, Bevan and Healy took them to a modest total of 207. West Indies, after being 165 for 2, were well and truly Warne'd, as he captured 4 for 36, and fell an agonizing 5 runs short. Australia reached the final, surprisingly lost but went on to win the next three World Cups and launch years of Australian domination.

My next article will be a long-awaited one, on Test batsmen across the ages.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems