No pain, no gain: Kohli, Tendulkar, Kumble and others who played through injury
Virat Kohli hammered back-to-back match-winning knocks for RCB in IPL 2016 despite having a split webbing. Apparently he's not the first do play with an injury.
Virat Kohli is in the form of his life at the moment, having earned comparisons with legends like Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar after hitting his fourth century of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), becoming the first in the tournament's to complete 4,000 runs.
While the comparisons might be justified due to his sheer brilliance and consistency, what makes his performances even more staggering is the fact that he has batted through an injury in his last two innings, both of which contributed towards victories for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) as they marched to the second position in the IPL points table.
In the match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Monday, Kohli split the webbing on his left hand while diving in an attempt to take a catch. He was rushed off the field, but to everyone's surprise, he was back soon with a bandaged webbing.
Not only did he come out to bat later that day, but also scored a match-winning 75 not out from 51 balls, forging a century stand with AB de Villiers to lead Bangalore to a nine-wicket win. Despite having stitches on his left hand, Kohli played in the next match as well. In a rain-curtailed 15-over game, Kohli smashed 113 off 50 balls, including 12 fours and eight sixes, to guide RCB to their third consecutive win and keep their playoff hopes alive.
While Kohli has scored heaps of runs right from the start in his career, this display of bravery has won the hearts of many. His passion and commitment towards his team and the game, leading from the front despite adversities earned him rare accolades. Kohli may have a plenty more to offer in a career that has barely its halfway mark, but this performance will surely be remembered as one of the current Indian Test skipper's greatest moments.
The 'Gentleman's game' does come with its share of injuries, many of which turn out to be career or even life-threatening, and a handful of which even end up being fatal. However, there are the tales of bravery scripted every now and then; cricket is full of instances that could provide the perfect fodder for an inspirational sports film.
Here are five other instances when cricketers defied serious injuries to walk out to the field and give it their all:
Anil Kumble, West Indies vs India, 4th Test an Antigua, 2002
West Indies had managed to level the series in the third Test of the five-match series at Barbados, and the race to regain the series lead was more intense than ever.
India were put to bat by the hosts, and they managed to post 513 for nine courtesy centuries by VVS Laxman and wicketkeeper-batsman Ajay Ratra, along with half-centuries by Rahul Dravid and Wasim Jaffer.
However, the grim moment of the innings was when India’s leading leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who walked out to bat at No 7, and copped a nasty blow to his face off a Mervyn Dillon bouncer. He suffered a fractured jaw despite wearing a helmet. The scenes that followed were not exactly pleasant, as Kumble spat out blood, but he refused to be carried away, and continued to bat before eventually being dismissed by Dillon for a 17-ball six.
A fractured jaw would have forced the toughest of individuals to take a backseat and take some time to recover. However, Kumble unveiled the warrior in him when he chose to take the field with a bandaged face, resisting the pain. "I didn't want to sit around," is what Jumbo is believed to have replied with when asked about his intention behind taking such a risk, according to a report on ESPNCricinfo.
He went on to bowl 14 overs, and even got the wicket of Brian Lara, as West Indies were reduced to 135 for three while trailing the Indians by a shade under 400 runs. However, he had to fly off to his hometown Bangalore on the following day, and West Indies surpass India's score, reach a score of 629 for nine, and eke out a draw.
Rick McCosker, Australia vs England, Only Test at MCG, 1977
An incident fairly similar to that of Kumble in Antigua, except for the fact that this is an era in which batsmen were far more vulnerable to fast bowling, mainly due to the absence of protective gear such as helmets.
Australian opening batsman Rick McCosker suffered a sickening blow to his jaw courtesy fiery England pacer Bob Willis after the hosts were put to bat by England on Day One of the Centenary Test. The ball landed on the stumps after hitting his face, and McCosker was clean bowled for just four off 17 balls.
He did not walk out to field after that, getting his jaw wired during the next one-and-a-half days at a hospital, as Dennis Lillee and Max Walker demolished the England batting order, helping the Aussies gain a 43-run lead after bowling them out for 95. Australia were 353 for eight in their second innings, and needed more to set a a competitive target.
McCosker did the unthinkable as he walked out with his face wrapped in bandages — his jaw wired — and went on to defy a hostile spell of bowling to add 54 for the ninth wicket and get Australia past the 400-run mark. The hosts went on to record a 45-run win with Derek Randall's brave century in the fourth innings going in vain. Despite the variety of performances in that game, the most vivid memories continue to be that of a bandaged McCosker batting with an injured face in what turned out to be one of the most courageous acts ever.
Bert Sutcliffe, South Africa vs New Zealand, 2nd Test at Johannesburg
One of the greatest tales of courage in cricket was scripted at the Ellis Park (now a Rugby and Association Football venue). It was a tale in which the protagonists beat all odds, including the severest of injuries and personal loss, to continue their fight.
The Geoff-Rabone led New Zealand were in for some early trouble after bowling the hosts out for 271. The Black Caps were reduced to nine for two, before a vicious bouncer from pacer Neil Adcock split Bert Sutcliffe’s earlobe, causing blood to trickle down and forcing him to retire hurt immediately. It would later turn out to be a blow from which he would never recover completely for the rest of his life.
As he had to rush to a nearby hospital, a bloodbath ensued at the Ellis Park, with Adcock being the primary aggressor with his lethal bouncers, injuring several other batsmen. New Zealand were reduced to 81 for six, needing 40 to avoid a follow-on, when Sutcliffe emerged from the tunnel with his head covered in bandages to keep the damaged earlobe in place, with stains of blood on it.
It was a sight that was etched in the minds of those present at the venue, as Sutcliffe led from the front like a valiant general to lead his side away from the dangers of follow-on.
The match is also remembered for the sight of tail-ender Bob Blair walking out to bat. Blair had heard the news of his fiancée passing away in a railway accident back in New Zealand only a day earlier, and was confined to his hotel room for the most part during the opening day’s play.
That was before he decided to walk out to the ground when his team needed his services with the bat the most, delaying the inevitable end of New Zealand's first innings a tad. South Africa went on to win the Test, and the series, comfortably, but the valour displayed by Sutcliffe remains the most defining image from the series.
Graeme Smith, Australia vs South Africa, 3rd Test at Sydney, 2009
Aside from leaving behind the legacy of being one of the greatest captains the game has ever seen, Graeme Smith was known for among the best batsmen of his era, as well as one of the grittiest. The memory of him batting with an injured left hand, trying to save a Test for stands testament to the fact.
Having clinched the three-match series 2-0, with a dead rubber to follow, South Africa were gunning for a whitewash in the New Year’s Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in their pursuit of the No 1 Test rank. It was not a smooth ride for the Proteas however, as they conceded a sizeable 118-run first innings lead, before being set a challenging, if not impossible, 376-run target against an Australian attack led by the fiery Mitchell Johnson.
Smith was forced to retire hurt in the first innings while batting on 30 after a snorter from Johnson hit him on his left hand, putting him out of action until he walked out to bat at No 11 on the final day, with Australia needing just one wicket to pull off a victory. Smith batted for 17 deliveries without a plaster on his injured hand, battling against an in-form attack to save the match, having consumed several painkillers and received injections. South Africa were just 10 balls away from a hard-earned draw when Smith’s resistance finally came to an end as he got his off-stump rattled with a peach of a delivery from Johnson.
Sachin Tendulkar, India vs Pakistan, 1st Test at Chennai, 1999
The aforementioned match hardly needs an introduction. India were playing Pakistan for the first time in the five-day format in a decade, and the series was all set for an epic showdown between the two arch-rivals. Sachin Tendulkar was in the form of a lifetime, and a clash against two of the greatest pacers in Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis would provide for some riveting contest.
After gaining a slender 16-run first innings lead, India were set a target of 271 after Venkatesh Prasad’s 6 for 33 helped bowl Pakistan out for 286. India, in reply, were reduced to 82 for five during their chase, and it all boiled down to Sachin, who was battling a problematic back, to save the day, as was the case for the most part of that decade.
What occurred in the remainder of the fourth day is well-documented as the battle between Tendulkar and the famed Pakistan bowling attack, though the former had able support in wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia at the other end. Tendulkar brought up his 18th Test century in a sheer display of flair and grit, and was well on his way towards guiding India past the finish line when he miscued a Saqlain Mushtaq delivery to get caught at mid-off. The Indian tail collapsed in typical fashion thereafter, as Pakistan pulled off a thrilling 12-run win.
Not only was the Test memorable for being a quintessential Indo-Pak thriller, as well as for the standing ovation that the Pakistanis received from the Chidambaram crowd, but for one of Tendulkar’s finest knocks under testing circumstances, including a troubled physique, as well.
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