Whenever a batsman plays exceptionally well and registers a big score, there is a sense of elation and pride associated with it. However, when a monumental effort as that ends up in a losing cause, the elation is nowhere to be seen and all the pride has been shattered. Rather, a stigma of self-doubt and gloom envelopes the impeccable performance of that batsman.
Recently, when Rohit Sharma scored 171* against Australia at Perth, all Indian fans were in a state of ecstasy and were on cloud nine. However, barely four hours later, Rohit’s heroics ended up on the wrong side, as the Australia strolled through the target of 310, and made their chase nothing but a cakewalk. Instances like the one at Perth often tend to deject a batsman, who despite giving his ultimate best on the park, has to finish second and end up on the losing side.
In the past, several Indian batsmen have played outstanding knocks, only to end up on the losing side. Virat Kohli’s flamboyant knock of 123 against New Zealand in the first ODI in 2014 was one such knock, where Kohli’s heroics were not good enough to seal the victory for India.
Below, we go through five great knocks by Indian batsmen, which ultimately ended in losing causes.
5. Rohit Sharma 171* vs Australia (Perth – 2016):
Sharma was India’s best ODI batsman in 2015 and the lad from Mumbai carried on his good form even in India’s first game of 2016. Electing to bat first on a cloudy day, Rohit got India off to a solid start. Once Dhawan was dismissed early, Sharma got along with Virat Kohli to torment the Australian bowlers. Their 207 run stand was the highlight of the Indian innings. Sharma was completely effortless and his strokes had a touch of class over them. Sharma went ballistic in the last few overs and it was due to his clean hitting, that the Indians could get to 309 in the fifty overs. However, India’s helpless bowling combined with the ultra-defensive tactics from MS Dhoni meant that the Aussie batsmen walked through and had no issues in scaling down the target. Sharma’s brilliance had all gone in vain!
4. Yuvraj Singh 139 vs Australia (Sydney – 2004):
This knock was the metamorphosis of Yuvraj Singh from a chocolate boy to the ultimate pillar of the Indian ODI team. In so many ways, Yuvraj’s career took a turn after this stellar knock against the world champions, Australia. Yuvraj joined VVS Laxman with the score reading 80-3 in 15.2 overs. Singh began delightfully and his shots were a treat to the eyes. He pulled, cut and drove the Aussie bowlers to all parts of the SCG and his innings included 16 boundaries and 2 maximums. After bringing up what was the second ton of his ODI career, Yuvraj went berserk and spared no bowler. He tore into the medium pacer Ian Harvey to propel India to 296-4 in 50 overs. Rain played its part in the second half and Australia needed 225 to win from 34 overs. Despite a blazing 95 off 72 from Adam Gilchrist, India were in control of the game. With 11 needed off the last over, L. Balaji should have defended the total. However, Brett Lee hit a six on the fourth ball of the over, and Australia eventually won the game with one ball to spare. However, the game will most probably be remembered for the brilliance of Yuvraj Singh.
3. Sachin Tendulkar 141 vs Pakistan (Rawalpindi – 2004)
“Sachin Tendulkar followed by five Indian batsmen”. This used to be the quote associated with the Indian batting lineup in the 1990’s. The quote, though, was applicable against Pakistan in the second ODI as well when the Indians were set a mammoth target of 330. Back in those days, any target over 275 was considered to be daunting. Tendulkar motored India’s run chase in emphatic fashion, as he stood the only batsman between Pakistan and victory. Barring Rahul Dravid’s 36, no batsman supported Tendulkar. Sachin got to his first ever ton in Pakistan and countered a rampaging Pakistani bowling attack with great panache. Tendulkar was caught spectacularly by Abdul Razzaq and who knows, had that catch not been taken, Tendulkar would have guided India’s to one of its finest wins.
2. MS Dhoni 113* vs Pakistan (Chennai – 2012):
29-5. Not even 10 overs had been bowled, when Indian skipper MS Dhoni made his way to the middle. Left-arm pacer Junaid Khan seemed to be unstoppable on an overcast Chennai morning. Khan had found a great ally in the moisture and he had made a mess of the Indian top and middle order. MS Dhoni’s first job was to save India from utter humiliation as the scope of being bowled out for less than the three-figure mark seemed on the cards. Dhoni not just rescued India, but played one of the most inspiring knocks in cricket history. Dhoni defended, rotated the strike and then attacked the Pakistani bowlers. It is often said that a great leader must lead by example. There is no better example than this knock of a leader leading from the front and by setting a precedent. The Indian bowlers though could not capitalize on the brilliance of Dhoni, and the visitors won the game with 11 deliveries to spare.
1. Sachin Tendulkar 175 vs Australia (Hyderabad – 2009):
This was without second thoughts the greatest knock in cricket history which ended up in a losing cause. Set a gigantic total of 351 to win, Tendulkar set off from the word go. This knock was a display of Sachin’s sheer brilliance the unadulterated artistry associated with the Little Master. Not even a single shot from Tendulkar’s willow was a slog or a mishit. Tendulkar was simply unstoppable and not even the heat of the Deccan could stop the world’s greatest batsman. His 141 ball 175 had set the stage for an Indian victory and it was just a mere formality to finish off the game. However, Tendulkar was dismissed with 19 needed off 17 deliveries. What followed ahead was simply frustrating as the Indian lower order failed to get to the target and lost by 3 runs. Despite losing the game, Tendulkar had that million dollar smile on his face. “I care about playing for India, it’s a passion and I have been absolutely honored to play for India so long,” said Tendulkar in the post-match presentation, which only depicted the greatness of the man.