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Feature

Redemption songs in white-ball cricket

Four other instances of players redeeming themselves after a horrendous beginning

Debayan Sen
28-Sep-2020
Lasith Malinga pulled out one of his final-over specials  •  Getty Images

Lasith Malinga pulled out one of his final-over specials  •  Getty Images

On Sunday evening in Sharjah, after scoring just eight runs from 19 balls, Rahul Tewatia was completely out of sorts and fast proving to be the reason the Rajasthan Royals would fail in their bold march towards achieving the highest chase in the IPL. Then just in a matter of eight balls, including six sixes, Tewatia did the impossible, becoming a hero from a villain instantaneously.
Following are four such instances of players redeeming themselves after a horrendous beginning.
Malinga stops CSK's pounding heart
The 2019 IPL final in Hyderabad pitted the league's two most successful franchises against each other. The Mumbai Indians had posted a modest 149 on the board, and after a steady start, captain Rohit Sharma's best-laid plans were faltering in the face of controlled aggression from the blade of Shane Watson. Watson took a special liking to Lasith Malinga, scoring at a strike rate of 200 against the Sri Lankan spearhead, who travelled for 42 off his three overs with the last over looming, in which the Chennai Super Kings needed nine to win.
Malinga bowled the last over, with Watson taking strike on 76 from 56 - the only other options could have been either of the Pandya brothers or Kieron Pollard, who had not bowled in the match till that point. This is where Malinga showed his value, bowling full, fast, and with subtle variations of line. Watson could take just four off the first three balls and was run-out looking to come back for the second off the next ball. With four runs required, Malinga conceded two to Shardul Thakur and then executed the near-perfect bluff, a floating yorker on the middle stump that the batsman failed to connect.
Travis Head bangs into 2016
In terms of similarity with Tewatia's heroics, Travis Head's virtually single-handed blitz to help the Adelaide Strikers win a home BBL game on the last day of 2015 against the Sydney Sixers must rank right up there. The Strikers were chasing 177 and Head wasn't exactly smoking it around the Adelaide Oval, batting on 45 from 38 from No. 4, when Adil Rashid joined him at the fall of the fifth wicket in the 17th over. The equation at the end of that over read 51 needed from 18 balls, exactly the same facing Tewatia in Sharjah.
Head's scoring sequence from there read thus: 4, 6, 4, 6, 6, 1, 0, 2, 2, 6, 0, 1, 6, 6, 6. Sean Abbott conceded 45 from nine balls as Head scored 56 all off his bat to win the game for the Strikers with three balls and five wickets to spare. In the process, he brought up the small matter of the first BBL century for his team.
Ishant denies England Champions Trophy
The 2013 ICC Champions Trophy final at Edgbaston became a 20-over shootout thanks to the weather, but the odds were pretty much in the home side's favour with three overs to go, and 28 needed to gun down India's modest 129, especially with Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara both well set. Ishant Sharma had gone for 27 off his three overs, and with Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and spinners all yet to have bowled out, it seemed a gamble to hand Ishant the ball for the 18th over, especially after Morgan smacked a long hop second ball for six. Ishant then sprayed one wide from over the wicket and repeated the same after changing his angle, and all seemed lost.
A slower ball saw Morgan miscue one towards midwicket, and off the very next ball, Bopara picked square leg against another short delivery. R Ashwin had two catches in two balls, and the match had transformed in a jiffy. The next two balls fetched just a single for Tim Bresnan, and Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin combined squeezed the life out of the English chase in the next two overs, leaving India winners by five runs.
Watson joins dots for powerful finish
Another IPL final featuring the Super Kings, and another time Watson was at the forefront. The 2018 final in Mumbai featured the Sunrisers Hyderabad, who had set a competitive target of 179. Watson came out to open with Faf du Plessis and struggled for rhythm early on against the tight lines and swing obtained by Sandeep Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. At one stage in the fourth over, the Super Kings were at 11, and Watson had just faced his tenth ball without scoring. He drilled one boundary off the next ball, but du Plessis fell in trying to force the pace off the last ball of the over.
With 5 off 13 at one stage, Watson was really struggling, until a hoick off Sandeep through the leg side fetched him his first six, and from there, he was a man transformed. His unbeaten 117 came off just 57 balls, included 11 fours and eight sixes and gave CSK the title with a thumping eight-wicket victory against one of the best bowling attacks in the league.