January 22, 2009

A tail of victory

Memorable ODI come-from-behind victories featuring tailenders

Tailenders have been having their say of late in one-day internationals with Muttiah Muralitharan and Ray Price leading their teams to victory. A look at XI memorable rearguards

Gary Gilmour was too much for England at Headingley in 1975 with bat and ball © Getty Images

Gary Gilmour v England, Headingley, 1975
This was Gilmour's Game. He destroyed England with 6 for 14 as they batted in typical Headingley conditions, but his efforts were threatening to come to nothing as Australia stumbled to 39 for 6 in their run-chase. Up stepped Gilmour for the second time in the match. He only played five ODIs, batting in just two of them, but here he managed to steer Australia from their parlous position, past a target of 94. He added an unbeaten 55 with Doug Walters and managed to outscore his senior partner with five boundaries in his 28. "The huge crowd rose to him," said Wisden, and well they should have.

Andy Roberts v Pakistan, Edgbaston, 1975
He was fearsome with the ball - part of West Indies' great bowling attack of the era - but on this day he had his moment with the blade. Deryck Murray, the wicketkeeper, ended unbeaten on 61 at the other end, but without Roberts the ultimate victory wouldn't have happened. This was just his second ODI and he helped Murray add the 64 runs needed for victory to bring a pulsating conclusion. It was far from the strongest attack Pakistan would ever field, but few would have expected such a finish.

Malcolm Marshall v Pakistan, Adelaide, 1984
Marshall could have scored more runs than he did at international level, but his volume of wickets meant it barely mattered. In a typical display of controlled swing he had already claimed 3 for 28 in this game, but with his team in trouble he showed his batting ability as well. More than 100 were still required when he came out, but he negotiated the legspin of Abdul Qadir and Wasim Raja - part of a depleted Pakistan attack - to carry the team home. "Marshall followed some impressive fast bowling with an admirable combination of resolution and aggression," said Wisden.

Javagal Srinath/Anil Kumble v Australia, Bangalore, 1996
Neither of this pair were rabbits, but few would have blamed them for being caught in the headlights when the match against Australia appeared to be slipping away. Sachin Tendulkar had done his best to hold the chase of 216 together with a composed 88, but when he fell it was 164 for 8 and Australia were nearly home. However, slowly but surely Srinath and Kumble ticked off the runs and the target came within view. Srinath clubbed a vital six during his 23-ball innings to ease the tension, and victory actually came with a comfortable seven balls to spare. The joyous scenes at the end were a far cry from the near-riot that had accompanied Mohammad Azharuddin's lbw dismissal. There had been a 17-minute delay as bottles were thrown but in the end that was forgotten. Panic, what panic?

Heath Streak v New Zealand, Auckland, 2001
In the days when Zimbabwe were a competitive nation, Streak was to the fore in many of their best performances. Often it was with the ball but on his day he was more than able to win a match with the bat. His unbeaten 79 remains the highest score by a batsman batting at No. 8 and below in a winning situation. He arrived at the crease with Zimbabwe 146 for 6 chasing a more-than-useful 274 for victory and it wasn't long before Andy Flower departed for 81. But Streak added 69 with Travis Friend to bring the target in sight, only for two more wickets to fall. It came down to Zimbabwe needing 19 with one wicket left, and Streak's fifth six secured a memorable victory.

James Anderson wonders "what if" as Andy Bichel hits another boundary © Getty Images

Andy Bichel v England, Port Elizabeth, 2003
Nasser Hussain still wakes up in a cold sweat about this match. England had it sewn up: defending 204, Australia were 135 for 8 after Brett Lee was run out by Craig White. However, 12 overs later Michael Bevan hit the winning runs and England were out of the World Cup (although it was not technically confirmed until the following day's washout between Zimbabwe and Pakistan). However, while Bevan was known as a world-class finisher, Andy Bichel wasn't. Yet he played his role to perfection, taking his fair share of the strike and moving along comfortably at a run-a-ball. And it was Bichel who really killed the game, taking James Anderson for a six and a four off consecutive deliveries in the 49th over to sap any lingering belief away from England. And by the way, Bichel had already managed a seven-wicket haul in the game.

Zaheer Khan v New Zealand, Wellington, 2003
Quite fairly, Zaheer Khan could have been thinking he'd done his job after collecting 3 for 30 off eight overs. But out he strode with India in a pickle at 116 for 7 and the home side favourites to defend a low total in a series dominated by seaming pitches. Zaheer, though, showed more gumption than some of the top order and accompanied Yuvraj Singh in a stand of 44 for the eighth wicket. Yuvraj fell with nine still needed, but Zaheer wouldn't be denied and hit the winning runs in the 44th over. For India, though, it was nothing more than a face-saver - they were already down 0-4 in the series.

Nuwan Zoysa v Australia, Colombo, 2004
This may have been a dead game, but it was livened up by the efforts of Zoysa. A tall left-arm quick, Zoysa never quite fulfilled his potential at the top level, but this was his day. Bowling success clearly translates into batting heroics if this list is any guide and Zoysa followed his three wickets with a match-winning knock of 47 off 42 balls. "He played proper shots from No. 9 to take his side home after being neglected for 19 months before this series," Wisden reported. He left his senior partner, Russel Arnold, grazing in the shade as he took on the Australian attack. If only it had come earlier in the series.

He can bat as well: Stuart Broad celebrates victory against India at Old Trafford © Getty Images

Courtney Browne/Ian Bradshaw v England, The Oval, 2004
Played late in the English season, it was deep into dusk when Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw secured a famous victory for West Indies, which was greeted by emotional scenes and dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Ivan. England looked a near certainly to end a successful summer on another high, with their first global title, but hadn't factored in some late West Indies resilience. When Browne and Bradshaw joined forces, 71 were needed, but crucially they realised that England were gambling on bowling out their main quicks. First they survived, then they scored, then they savoured the win. It didn't signal a long-term West Indies revival, but at it least allowed some temporary joy.

Stuart Broad v India, Old Trafford, 2007
Another player destined to move out of the lower reaches of the order, this wasn't Broad's first occasion of leading England over the line. After being called up as a late World Cup replacement he helped them to a one-wicket win in a dead game against West Indies, but this time it really mattered. He joined Ravi Bopara with 99 still needed, against a charged-up India attack, but calmly ticked off the runs needed. Some of his shot play wouldn't have disgraced a top-order batsman - especially his back-foot driving - and India slowly began to run out of options. In Broad's favour was that the overs were never a factor, and such was his composure that England had two to spare at the end. That barely told the story of an intriguing match.

Zaheer Khan/Murali Kartik v Australia, Mumbai, 2007
Another double-header and again against Australia. In defence of the visitors, this time they had the series in the bag, so motivation may have been slightly down, but still, at 143 for 8 with 51 needed they would have fancied wrapped up the match. Kartik, though, was having the game of his life, having already taken six wickets. If anyone was going to win it, he was. But he couldn't do it alone. Together with Zaheer they resisted the Australian attack. They weren't afraid to play their shots either - Zaheer even managed to deposit Brett Lee over long-on for six. And when the ball brushed Kartik's pads and went to the boundary, India had their consolation victory.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo