In the 2nd ODI in Jaipur, Australia was destroyed by two young Indian batsmen as India chased down a mammoth 359. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli unleashed their brutal selves on a hapless Australian bowling attack and made a mockery of the huge total.
The most impressive part about the Indian chase was the shot selection from the Indian batsmen. Everyone in the top three came out with a positive intent and played proper cricketing shots to pierce the field, hence proving that run scoring at a faster clip has almost nothing to do with slogging.
However, there are times when even the best make the worst shot selections. Every batsman has a favourite shot that they love to play. For someone like a Sachin Tendulkar, it may be the backfoot punch, while a Dilshan will have the “Dil-Scoop” topping his charts.
On the contrary, every batsman hates one shot that they wished they had never played. Not because they aren’t equipped to play it properly, but on a particular day, they failed to execute that shot and it changed the course of the game.
Here is a collection of 5 shots that the batsmen wished they hadn’t played on that day:
Mike Gatting’s reverse sweep – England vs Australia, World Cup finals, 1987
Mike Gatting, the former English batsman, has always managed to attach himself with the a few legendary incidents in cricket. However, he has always ended being the person at the wrong end, whether it’s being the victim of the ball of the century or playing the impulsive reverse-sweep that cost England the 1987 World Cup.
You can’t do much when a ball turns the entire circumference of your body and kisses the bail of your off stump, but to play an audacious reverse sweep when your team’s cruising to a World Cup final victory, isn’t the most sane option.
Chasing a total of 253 put up by Australia, England were coasting at 135 for 2 with captain Mike Gatting and Bill Athey at the crease. Australia looked desperate for a wicket, and that’s when the Aussie captain Allan Border stepped up with his variety of left-arm orthodox.
Though Border was not a frontline spinner, the gritty Aussie captain was well known for providing important breakthroughs. And he did it again that day, thanks largely to his opponent number.
Border’s first ball pitched around the off stump, Gatting got down on his haunches, which itself was quite a feat, and reverse swept the ball. However, the execution was anything but good. The ball bounced more than Gatting thought, caught the top edge of his bat, hit his shoulder and looped up to Greg Dyer, who almost dropped it in disbelief!
A stunned Eden Garden’s crowd saw the big figure of Mike Gatting disappear into the pavilion along with England’s hope of taking the trophy home.
An inspired bowling change turned into magic for Australia, and a moment of madness became tragic for England.
Misbah -ul-Haq’s scoop to short fine leg – India vs Pakistan, T20 World Cup finals, 2007
Another captain who messed it up for his side, big time. After a late blast from Rohit Sharma, India propelled to a fighting score of 157. Pakistan however, collapsed while chasing. At 77/5, no one gave them a chance to come even close but the captain had other ideas.
Misbah-ul-Haq, along with Yasir Arafat got into damage control mode and strung a 104-run partnership. After Arafat departed, Sohail Tanvir did his bit to lift the Pakistan total to 138 in the 18th over.
Suddenly the game turned, and Misbah smoked Harbhajan Singh for three huge sixes to keep abreast with the scoring rate. As Ravi Shastri would say, the game looked like going right down to the wire and going into the final over, Pakistan needed just 13 runs to pull off a sensational victory.
Then came the master-stroke. A long-maned Indian captain threw the ball to Joginder Sharma. The move seemed to have backfired as Misbah whacked a full toss for six to long-off.
But Misbah definitely didn’t read much cricket history and didn’t know much about Mike Gatting. He committed the same mistake – the ball pitched on off and middle, Misbah went down on his knees and attempted a scoop over short fine leg. However, he didn’t middle it, and it traveled only as far as Sreesanth at short-fine leg.
The Indian team went into frenzy and Misbah crouched on his knees in complete disbelief as he threw away the inaugural cricket T20 World Cup.
Sachin Tendulkar’s lofted drive – India vs Pakistan, Chennai Test, 1999
This was an epic that ended in complete tragedy. This innings against Pakistan was a tale of pain, determination, class and tears. It was perhaps one of the greatest Test innings ever played, yet it ended up as one of the saddest days in both Indian cricket and the remarkable career of Sachin Tendulkar.
India needed 271 to win the historic battle, but they had to go past the terrific trio of Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq to achieve it.
India, as usual, lost their openers cheaply to Waqar when Tendulkar walked in. With India stranded on 6/2, the master began his crusade. If Waqar steamed in from one end, Akram breathed fire at the other. On the last day, India was tottering at 86 for five at lunch with Tendulkar on 44. The nation prayed for a draw because winning looked way beyond the reach.
However, it all changed when Tendulkar decided put his foot down on the pedal after lunch. He dispatched Saqlain to the point boundary and then steered Akram to third man. With able support from Nayan Mongia, Tendulkar took the attack to the Pakistanis in one of the most gruesome Test battles ever seen.
The Pakistanis threw everything at him, but Tendulkar fought on with bouts of back spasm. However, after losing Mongia, the spasms took control of his lower back and Tendulkar wanted to chase down the target in a hurry.
A crisp cover drive saw Akram thud into the cover fence and with 25 runs left, Tendulkar chose Saqlain Mushtaq for one final showdown.
Tendulkar paddle swept the first ball, but Ijaz Ahmed, standing at first slip, moved in a flash to the leg side to deny him a boundary. It didn’t matter because the next ball saw Tendulkar step out and hammer the ball straight over the bowler’s head.
As soon as he finished the stroke, he bent down in pain because the follow through of the bat strained his back further. Undeterred by pain, he stood up, took guard, rocked back and deposited the next ball to the mid wicket fence.
That four brought the target down to 17, and then the moment of madness arrived. Saqlain floated up the doosra, Tendulkar did not pick it but still reached out to lift it over the bowler. The ball skied off leading edge, and Akram pouched safely at mid off.
The Pakistanis broke into celebration as the master walked back crestfallen. The “knowledgeable” Chennai crowd applauded a herculean effort that showcased class, technique and grit. But then again, only if he hadn’t played that shot!
Sachin Tendulkar’s paddle scoop – India vs Australia, Hyderabad, 2009
Another Sachin Tendulkar epic that didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. Chasing a mammoth score of 350 against Australia, Tendulkar decided to celebrate reaching his 17,000 runs in ODIs with a hurricane hundred.
Virender Sehwag went back after a breezy 30 and Gautam Gambhir didn’t last long. Yuvraj Singh walked in but couldn’t add much and so did skipper MS Dhoni. And when Suresh Raina walked in, the crowd had already given up, but Tendulkar didn’t.
Along with Raina, Tendulkar went on a complete rampage ransacking the Aussie attack. Raina too joined in the party, and the two diminutive Indian batsmen suddenly made the target look achievable.
Tendulkar took to the spinners, especially Nathan Hauritz, while Raina flawlessly hoicked everything over mid wicket. Tendulkar reached his hundred in only 81 deliveries and Ponting had a few problems as the master continued bludgeoning his bowlers all over the park.
But Watson struck in the 43rd over, not once but twice. Raina and Harbhajan Singh walked back as Ravindra Jadeja joined in the chase. Jadeja looked completely at ease and raced to a 17 ball 24 but with 19 needed off 18 balls, not McKay but tragedy struck!
Tendulkar, batting on 175, looked to scoop the first ball from Clint McKay over the short fine leg fielder. The ball was pitched on middle and leg, and the shot was on. However, Tendulkar misread the pace of the delivery and played the shot just that bit early. The ball caught the edge of his bat and skied up for a dolly catch to Nathan Hauritz.
As Tendulkar left the field, the Aussies found a way in and the Indian tail-enders lost their marbles! India lost the game by mere 3 runs, and a classic was rendered useless thanks to that one shot!
Mark Boucher’s block – South Africa vs Sri Lanka, World Cup 2003
The world labels them as “Chokers” but the South Africans seem to find out the most outrageous ways to knock themselves out of various ICC tournaments. Be it the 22 run in 1 ball fiasco in 1992 or the brain explosion that Allan Donald and Lance Klusener suffered in 1999, the Proteas are masters in crumbling in the crunch situations.
But the game against Sri Lanka in the 2003 World Cup was an evidence of lack of game awareness. Chasing 269 for victory, the South Africa skipper Shaun Pollock and Mark Boucher added a valuable 63 runs for the sixth wicket after a mini collapse of the middle order.
Pollock was sent back by some brilliance from Muttiah Muralitharan on the field, but Lance Klusener and Boucher kept the hosts in the hunt.
At 229 for 5, rain forced the players off. The players and the officials hounded on the Duckworth-Lewis sheets to find out the that the match would end in a tie if the rain continued.
The rain continued, and South Africa were shown the door in their own country by a cruel tie. But the funny part was what happened before the rains came in. According to the Duckworth-Lewis par score, South Africa had to score 229 to be level with Sri Lanka but needed 1 more to win the contest.
The Proteas misunderstood the entire calculations and Boucher was handed a message that said 229 was enough. Mark Boucher, who was in cracking form, hit Muralitharan into the stands to take the South African total to 229 and thinking that he’s done his job played the last ball of the 45th over tamely to mid wicket and didn’t even look for a single.
That became the last ball of the game and South Africa fell short by a single.
People play horrendous shots to get out that often leads to the defeat of their team but a simple block from Boucher to mid wicket turned out to be the worst shot he ever offered on a cricket field.