They say a cornered mouse never fights. It’s a saying that hasn’t been heard by Indian players maybe. Over the last couple of years, the Indian team has built a reputation of always putting up a fight in hopeless situations and even managed to come back in games. Although most of them don’t result in a win, the ones that do, stick with the players for the rest of their lives.
We’ve seen a few such tales in Indian cricketing history as well. These comebacks are what shape the personality of a youngster. Be it Yuvraj Singh’s growth following the NatWest Trophy final or Virat Kohli’s coming-of-age innings at Hobart in the 2012 CB series.
On that note, we take a look at Top 5 memorable comebacks of Indian teams over the years.
5) Sri Lanka vs India, 2nd ODI (Pallekele 2017)
Back in 2017, India toured Sri Lanka for a full-fledged series. They white-washed the Lankan side 3-0 in the Tests, and started the ODI’s off with a win. Things weren’t looking good in the second game though. While chasing a target of 231 in 47 overs following the DLS method, India slipped from 109/0 to 131/7.
The wrecker-in-chief was Akila Dananjaya, a mystery spinner akin to India’s old nemesis, Ajantha Mendis. He ran through the top and middle order, snatching 6 wickets in his spell. Luckily for India, MS Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar combined to stitch a match-winning partnership of 100* to take India past the line. They went on to complete a 9-0 rout in all the formats after the memorable win.
4) India vs Bangladesh, T20 World Cup (Bangalore 2016)
Almost every Indian remembers this famous win at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. On a slow track, India stuttered their way to a par total of 146/7 in their 20 overs. There were contributions all around, with Suresh Raina (30 off 23) being the top scorer. The Bangladesh bowlers exploited the spin in the pitch, and restricted team India. Since it wasn’t an easy chase, Bangladesh was under pressure.
They lost wickets regularly and found themselves in a precarious position at 95/5. Partnerships were built and experienced batsman Mushfiqur Rahim scored two boundaries in the final over to bring the equation down to 2 runs off 3 balls. Hardik Pandya, who was bowling the final over, managed to snare two wickets in two balls before an athletic Dhoni effected a run-out off the last ball to spark wild celebrations in the Indian camp.
3) Sri Lanka vs India, 2nd ODI (Colombo 2021)
The most recent comeback saw Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar at the forefront. After opting to bat first, Sri Lanka amassed 275/9 in their 50 overs courtesy of twin fifties from Avishka Fernando and Charith Asalanka. Also, a late cameo from Chamika Karunaratne meant India had a stiff target in front of them.
By the 20th over in the chase, India had lost half the side to poor shot making and unfortunate dismissals. The situation worsened when Suryakumar Yadav fell right after reaching his fifty. Luckily for India, they had able fighters in Chahar and Bhuvneshwar who put together an 84-run unbeaten alliance to seal the series for the Men in Blue.
2) India vs Bangladesh, T20 Nidahas Trophy Final (Colombo 2018)
Another memorable comeback for India came against a confident Bangladesh team. Led by Sabbir Rahman’s brilliant 77 off just 50 balls, the Tigers put up a formidable score of 166/8 in a jam-packed R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Yuzvendra Chahal was the pick of the bunch for India, snaring three-wicket for 18 runs in his four overs.
The pressure of the final was immense and India scraped through to 133/5 after 18 overs following a Rohit Sharma fifty. At the crease were Vijay Shankar and Dinesh Karthik, who had not spent as much time at the crease before. The latter turned out to be India’s hero, smashing a stunning 29 off 8 balls including a six off the last ball to seal the Nidahas trophy for India. It will go down for the Indian team as one of the most memorable comebacks ever.
1) England vs India, NatWest Trophy Final (Lord’s 2002)
The NatWest Final is remembered for Sourav Ganguly’s infamous shirtless celebrations at Lord’s Balcony. A formidable English side put up a massive score of 326 following centuries from Marcus Trescothick and Nasser Hussain. All the Indian bowlers were taken to the cleaners, including an in-form Zaheer Khan.
Team India got off to a flawless start. Ganguly and Virender Sehwag stitched a 100-run partnership before an unforeseen collapse left India reeling at 146/5. Two youngsters Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif then guided the chase, before the former was dismissed for a well-made 69.
Kaif stuck around with the tail-enders and took India home to record one of the best comebacks ever. He finished unbeaten on 87 off 75 balls, also earning the player of the match award.