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Before Rilee Rossouw's T20I century, three of the greatest comebacks in cricket history

How Rilee Rossouw transformed from zero to a hero with his big hundred and sealed South Africa’s comfortable win in the third Twenty20, but it came on the back of a hat-trick of failures

October 05, 2022 / 01:42 PM IST
Rilee Rossouw's 100 not out off 48 balls sealed a 49-run win for South Africa in the third T20I at Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore on Tuesday

Rilee Rossouw's 100 not out off 48 balls sealed a 49-run win for South Africa in the third T20I at Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore on Tuesday


South Africa cruised to a 49-run win in the third T20 against India, in Indore, on Tuesday, thanks to a cracking 48-ball unbeaten century from Rilee Rossouw.

However, behind all that pleasure for Rossouw was the pain of a hat-trick of ducks against India in T20 internationals; two of which came in the first two matches of this series.

So, coming out to bat in the fifth over of the innings, having not scored a single run in this series, must have been daunting for the southpaw. But after a nervy first three balls, the batsman got going from the fourth ball onwards unsparing Mohammed Siraj, Deepak Chahar, and R Ashwin. He put on a superb 90-run partnership for the second wicket with Quinton de Kock and wielded his bat till the very end of the innings. He brought up his century with a single of the first ball of the 20th over and slumped to the ground in relief even as his teammates in the dugout stood in applause.

 

This redemption, on the back of almost-catastrophic previous outings, reminds us of other zero-to-hero stories. Let us look at a couple of them:

Marvan Atapattu

This is one of the most famous comeback stories in cricket. The former Sri Lankan batting great had a torrid introduction to cricket at the highest level.

Atapattu made his debut against India in November 1990, and his first six innings yielded a grand total of 1 run. Five ducks and a single across three Tests would usually mean an end to your international career and he was duly dropped by the Sri Lankan selectors.

However, the elegant right-handed batsman persevered by scoring big runs in the domestic circuit and went on to carve a glittering career for his country. Atapattu scored 16 Test centuries, including an impressive six double centuries, and he has the distinction of scoring against all Test-playing nations during his career.

Kolkata 2001

This is a Test match no Indian fan will ever forget. India was facing the bottom of the barrel when Steve Waugh's Australia enforced the follow-on with a massive first-innings lead. The second innings started slightly better, but India was still in trouble at 232-4, with still 42 runs left to wipe off the deficit. In came the dynamic duo of VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, who stitched a partnership of the ages! Their 376-run partnership for the fifth wicket allowed India to amass 657-7 in the second innings, setting Australia 384 runs to win. India went on to win the match, which they had no right to, and in the process stopped Australia's record-breaking 16 consecutive wins in Test cricket.

Johannesburg 2006

This fixture is another game the underdog had no right to win. In the fifth ODI in South Africa, Ricky Ponting's Australia destroyed the home bowling to register the massive ODI score at

This fixture is another game the underdog had no right to win. In the fifth ODI in South Africa, Ricky Ponting's Australia destroyed the home bowling to finish the innings at a massive 434/4. The skipper scored a brutal 164 as the Aussies entered the innings break with the champagne bottle ready to pop.

However, the South Africans had other plans and played an innings that was one for the ages. Herschelle Gibbs's heroic 175, captain Graeme Smith's superb 90, and a brilliant cameo from Mark Boucher saw the Proteas chase a score no team has ever dared to.

This ODI match produced 872 runs, which still hasn't been surpassed till now.
Amrit Ramakrishnan
first published: Oct 5, 2022 01:33 pm