Out of nowhere, we saw Deepak Chahar come in at No. 8 and smash India to a three-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second One-Day International (ODI) in Colombo. India seemed to be down and out at 193 for 7 when Krunal Pandya was dismissed for 35, but Chahar along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar added run-a-ball 84 for the eighth wicket and helped India take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
There have been only three instances where a batsman batting at eight or lower have registered a fifty in a chase for India. Ajit Agarkar did so against Zimbabwe in 2000, Bhuvneshwar Kumar joined him in 2017 and now Chahar is the latest entrant into this elite list with his unbeaten 69.
There have been many instances when the tail has wagged for India and have gone on to win the game from extremely difficult circumstances while chasing a target. Here, we look at a few of those matches:
India v Australia, Mumbai, 2007: India had lost the series and were playing for nothing but pride. After back-to-back losses in Vadodra and Nagpur, Australia had taken an unassailable lead, but India wanted to end the series on a high. They seemed to have a sniff in the final match after Murali Kartik’s six-wicket haul had helped bowl the Aussies out for just 193 inside 42 overs.
However, things did not go according to plan with the bat and India were soon reduced 143 for 8 in the 36th over. In walked Kartik once again to save the day. Along with Zaheer Khan, he added an unbeaten 52-run stand for the ninth wicket to see India home by two wickets. Zaheer remained unbeaten on 31 (43), while Kartik 21* (34), showed he is no mug with the bat either.
India v Sri Lanka, Pallekele 2017: Sri Lanka were on the receiving end once again, four years ago and it was Bhuvneshwar who was once again out there till the end. After being crushed in the first ODI in Dambulla, Sri Lanka looked to bounce back in the second match, played in Pallekele and seemed to be closing in on an easy win, until MS Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar’s unbeaten 100-run stand for the eighth wicket snatched away their joy.
With more than 28 overs to get 100 runs, Bhuvneshwar initially took his time, but once he settled in, he outscored Dhoni to eventually finish unbeaten on 53 off 80, while Dhoni remained unbeaten on 45.
India v Australia, Bangalore, 1996: India, Australia and South Africa competed for the Titan Cup in a tri-series in 1996. India had lost their first match of the series against South Africa and their fate seemed to be sealed when Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed by Steve Waugh for 88 with India still needing 52 from the last eight overs. It was up to Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble – both of them who could hold their own with the bat – to dig India out. However, in those days, if you get Tendulkar, you usually win the match.
But, Kumble and Srinath had other plans. While Srinath took the attack to the opposition, Kumble played sensibly and scored at almost run-a-ball. In the end, India knocked off the remaining runs with seven balls to spare. India eventually went on to win the tournament.
India v Zimbabwe, Cuttack, 2000: At 144 for 5, chasing 254 and with the likes of Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh back in the hut, it was never going to be an easy task against a resurgent Zimbabwe side. However, the match gave birth to a new hero in Hemang Badani who batted till the end to guide India to a three-wicket win.
Luckily for him, he had good support from the tail. After putting on 60 for the sixth wicket with Vijay Dahiya (35) and losing Sunil Joshi for a duck, Badani found a reliable partner in Ajit Agarkar, who was not just content to hang around, but slammed three boundaries on his way to a quickfire 16-ball 19. The du0 added exactly 50 runs for the eighth wicket and India crossed the finish line with 16 balls to spare.