Quite often it has been seen that players weave magic in the league games of major tournaments before floundering in crunch games. The knock-out matches present a much tougher challenge, more so due to the do-or-die situation of a match.
Ever since ODI came to the fore, there have been plenty of tournaments and even the World Cup has been a witness to as many as 12 editions. There are many players, whose numbers can put the best to shame. Based on their numbers, they have been stalwarts of their respective teams.
However, when it’s about the must-win matches, they, more or less, failed to break the shackles. After working hard throughout the league games, big scores have been expected off the big names. To their dismay, failures kept embracing them.
In the article, let’s take a look at five cricketers, who strained to step up in knock-out games: –
1. Abdul Razzaq
Abdul Razzaq is one of the most explosive batsmen Pakistan have ever produced. He knew how to use the long handle to good effect. A strike-rate of 81.25 in an era where run-making wasn’t all that easy, speaks volumes about his quality. But then when it came to knock-out games, the Lahore-born had his travails.
In 28 matches, the all-rounder could only get 347 runs at a dismal average of 18.26. His top score of 59 came against Australia back in 2002 during a tri-series final in Nairobi. Also, playing at a strike-rate of 63.32, he found it tough to press the accelerator.
Even with the ball, he couldn’t make significant impacts, picking up 21 wickets from 28 matches. To be more precise, in 11 matches, he couldn’t get a single wicket. His best figures of 3/3 came against the Aussies in 2005.
2. Ross Taylor
Ross Taylor has been a bedrock of New Zealand’s batting across formats for quite a few years. The Wellington-born has pulled the Black Caps out of precarious positions a number of times, batting in the middle. However, he has tended to flutter in knock-out matches.
In 10 encounters from 2007, the 36-year-old has 333 runs at an average of 33.30, much lower than his career average of 48.44. In the first eight games, he churned out plenty of scores in the 30s and 40s, but couldn’t carry on from there on.
Nevertheless, Taylor managed to redeem himself somewhat when he churned out 74 against India in the 2019 World Cup semi-final at the Old Trafford in Manchester. In the final where the Kiwis lost to England on boundary count, Taylor scored only 15 runs, getting out to Mark Wood.
3. Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli averages 59.33 in ODIs with 43 centuries to his name. But when it comes to crunch games, the Delhi-born hasn’t had the best of times. In 15 matches, the 31-year-old has 346 runs at a rather disastrous average of 28.83. In fact, in four of his last five of those games, he hasn’t breached the double-digit mark.
His top score of 96* came against Bangladesh in the 2017 Champions Trophy semi-final. Apart from that, he has a solitary fifty against Sri Lanka in the 2013 CT semi-final at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.
He has gotten into the 20s and 30s quite a few times, but failed to convert. In the 2017 CT final against Pakistan, he was dropped once, but speedster Mohammad Amir eventually went on to find his leading edge. Nevertheless, Virat remains to be one of the fulcrums of the Indian batting unit.
4. Hashim Amla
Hashim Amla has already hung his boots and it went without saying that he was South Africa’s bedrock in their batting lineup. The Durban-born wasn’t flashy by any means, but managed to get runs with precision. However, Amla wasn’t the Proteas’ best bet when it’s about crunch matches.
In five-matches, the veteran could only accumulate 85 runs at a rather forgettable average of 17. To start with, Amla got a couple of scores in the single-digits against New Zealand and England respectively.
Then he turned up with a knock of 51 versus the Aussies at the Harare Sports Club. Amla thereafter played in the quarter-final and semi-final of the 2015 World Cup. He scored 16 and 10 versus Lanka and the Black Caps. After the 2019 World Cup, he bowed out following poor shows.
5. Nuwan Kulasekara
Nuwan Kulasekara had picked 199 wickets in 184 matches for 14 years from 2003 to 2017. Even as he even got to the top of the ICC rankings, the 37-year-old had his difficulties while plying his trade in the knock-out matches.
In 16 encounters, the right-armer could churn out only 15 wickets at a poor average of 42.40. His best figures of 4/10 came against India in Dhaka way back in 2010. In seven of those matches, he failed to make a single breakthrough. On a couple of instances, he also went at over six runs per over.
The former Lankan pacer also conceded the very six, which gave India their second World Cup after 28 years. With the bat though, he played a few handy knocks lower down the order. He scored 73 runs off 60 balls against Australia in 2012 at the renowned MCG.
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