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Dravid's use of the Pathan-missile
by Gulu Ezekiel
Oct 31, 2005
Irfan Pathan's promotion in the ODI against Sri Lanka at Nagpur on Tuesday was not the first time such an unusual move has paid off.

Here are some more examples down the years:

Chetan Sharma, Nehru Cup, Kanpur, 25 Oct. 1989

India had beaten Sri Lanka but lost to the West Indies in this six-nation tournament staged to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

In the third match at Green Park, Kanpur, England had run up a useful total of 255 for 7 from 50 overs with medium-pacer Chetan Sharma picking up the wickets of captain Graham Gooch and Allan Lamb.

Sharma had scored 7 not out batting at number 10 against the Windies. Now in a surprise move, captain K. Srikkanth promoted him to number 4.

India had lost the wickets of openers Srikkanth (32) and Raman Lamba (16) when Sharma joined Navjot Singh Sidhu at the crease at 65 for 2.

The pair smashed the bowling in a stand worth 105. Sidhu was out for 61. But Sharma went on to remain unbeaten on 101 from 96 balls as India won by 6 wickets.

He had never hit even a half-century in ODIs before or after.

Sachin Tendulkar, bowling last over v. South Africa, Hero Cup at Calcutta, 1993

India under the captaincy of Mohammad Azharuddin was involved in a tense semi-final with South Africa in the Hero Cup five-nation tournament in Calcutta in November 1993

Tendulkar had disappointed with the bat in the tournament with scores of 26 not out, 2, 24, 3 and 15 in this game. But it was with the ball that he made the vital contribution.

India could only muster 195 from 50 overs, the captain contributing a masterly 90.

But South Africa, still fresh to international cricket lost their nerve in front of a raucous crowd of nearly 100,000 at the Eden Gardens.

With the last over to bowled, they needed six to win with two wickets in hand and the pendulum had swung back to them in a topsy-turvy match. The question was: who would bowl that last over?

Even as his captain and senior bowlers were hesitating, the young Tendulkar snatched the ball from Azhar and marked out his run-up.

Fanie de Villiers was run out from the first ball going for a second run and then Allan Donald and Brian McMillan were tied down to just two runs from the last five balls with Tendulkar bowling a bewildering array of deliveries. India had won by two runs and would win the final against the West Indies three days later.

Tendulkar opens for the first time, v. New Zealand at Auckland, 27 March 1994.

The home side had won the first of the four matches at Napier with India's openers Ajay Jadeja and Sidhu adding 66. Tendulkar was out for 15.

But on the morning of the second game, Sidhu woke up with a stiff neck and declared himself unfit.

Tendulkar himself had thought he was being wasted lower down the order and had been dropping hints in the media that he was keen to open. It would be his 70th ODI.

The think-tank of captain Azhar and coach Ajit Wadekar took the decision on the morning of the match and Tendulkar has never looked back since.

The Kiwis crawled to 142 all out in 49.4. The total was overtaken in a trice with Tendulkar's innings inspiring awe all round the ground.

The 100 of the innings was posted in 12.5 overs. Tendulkar's 82 consisted of just 22 scoring shots (49 balls), came in 69 minutes and helped wrap up the match with 26.4 overs to spare. There were 15 fours and two sixes in his blazing knock.

Even the umpires applauded him off the field when he was out! India won by 7 wickets, the series was tied at 2-2.

Kaluwitharana and Jayasuriya open for Sri Lanka, Australia 1995-96.

Even though Chetan Sharma had been promoted to the pinch-hitter's role in 1989 (see above), that was a one-off move. The tactics of taking advantage of the fielding restrictions for the first 15 overs was actually perfected by Sri Lanka's skipper Arjuna Ranatunga in the World Series Cup in Australia in 1995-96.

Roshan Mahanama and Sanath Jayasuriya had opened in the first four games with little success. In the fourth against Australia at Melbourne, it was wicket-keeper Romesh Kaluwitharana who was promoted with immediate results.

Little Kalu smashed 77 from 75 balls and the Lankans won by three wickets. The pair helped Lanka reach the finals where they were beaten by the hosts.

Though they failed in both the finals, the experiment was persisted with in the Wills World Cup that followed a few months later with devastating results. Jayasuriya was the man of the tournament and Lanka lifted the World Cup for the first time. It heralded the arrival of power openers.

Dipak Patel opening the bowling for New Zealand, 1992 World Cup

Kiwi captain Martin Crowe stunned the cricket world by opening the bowling with off-spinner Dipak Patel in the 1992 World Cup.

The Nairobi-born all-rounder picked up eight wickets in the tournament as New Zealand stormed to the semi-finals with an unbeaten record on their own turf. But they then came up against a resurgent Pakistan, the eventual winners and had to bow out.

Once the shock value had worn off, the ploy was rarely tried again in ODIs.

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
  Book Review - Eden Gardens: Legends and Romance
  Book Review: Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2014
  Pankaj: Bengal's Forgotten Cricket Legend
  Book Review - My Journey to the World Cup: The Sky is the Limit
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