Best comebacks in the Indian cricket ever: A very renowned quote says that it is not who wins on the very first occasion is the true champion but the one who has been beaten, humiliated, tormented and put through the pain of defeat over and over again and finally manages to win is the actual champion.
We will take a look at five Indian cricketers who defied unbearable pain and humiliation to make a strong comeback in the forthcoming ages. Not all the stories are as romantic and dramatic as you would want them to be but the reality is stranger and slower than fiction.
#1 Saurav Ganguly
This man defined comebacks for me personally. As a kid, I saw him refuse to give up over and over again and every single time he was spurned, he came back. He came back even stronger than the last time and conquered what was denied to him the last time.
I still remember crying when Saurav Ganguly asked in the Pepsi advert where he would go onto say, “Mera naam Saurav Ganguly. Mujhey yaad hai naa?” That was most likely one of the darkest phases for Saurav Ganguly as Greg Chappell, the man whom he personally preferred to take over the reins of the Indian national team after John Wright, personally wanted to ensure Saurav Ganguly’s downfall.
The Indian skipper was struggling very badly at that point in time as he couldn’t even score runs and India wasn’t particularly doing great then. Everyone alleged him to be a fiasco and an extremely selfish skipper. It never seemed as if he can ever return to the national team again. Everyone wrote him off.
After being dropped from the national team, he started working insanely in the practice sessions and took over the challenge of making the return. Belting out a sequence of extraordinary showdowns in the domestic cricket, Ganguly returned to the national team as a batsman and the world was in for a surprise, a monumental one, a historical one and more importantly a royal one.
He smashed his best score in Test cricket after this comeback, blasting a blistering 239 against Pakistan and also became the highest run-getter in Test cricket in the year 2007.
#2 Sachin Tendulkar
The Little Master is the epitome of batting in Indian cricket. He racked up all the possible human records and established himself on the pedestal of a God. In the opening twelve years of his career, he never missed a single Test match and apparently endured every single niggle to ensure that he was present in the ground.
Keeping the injuries stifled for all the seasons that he was playing for India, these kept on accumulating bit by bit and it all exploded into a career-threatening tennis elbow in 2004. The pain aggravated to such an extent that he could barely lift his bat, let aside playing his signature strokes.
Sachin went into rehab with the focus of making a comeback, come hell or high waters and like a true God he did manage to turn the tide around. Proving the media’s derisory comments of calling him “Endulkar”, he once again walked to the middle of the pitch with the crowd erupting into a delirious roar, hollering, “Sachin, Sachin, Sachiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnn……”!
#3 Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi
Do you know what was this man dotingly called? He was called “Tiger” Pataudi. Maybe it is because of his royal personality or the fearless leader that he was, he was called the tiger. However, this man’s journey wasn’t as fabled as it may seem.
Hailing from a royal background, he started proliferating in the county at a tender age. However, at the age of 20, he met with a deadly accident that threatened his life. Despite coming back from the jaws of death, he lost his right eye completely. Such woeful was his condition that everyone thought that it was the end of Tiger because he could barely see a piece of glass, let aside playing a stroke.
Startling everyone, he returned to the nets after mere days and started practicing his shots with just one eye. His never-say-never mentality brought him back to Test cricket and he actually became one of the finest cricketers to have played for India and would also lead India in Test cricket.
In fact, it was under his captaincy that India managed to win their first Test match overseas and it came at the premium expense of England in 1967.
#4 Mohinder Amarnath
Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath, the man who is also known as the comeback king in the Indian colours, played an exceptionally crucial role to help India lift the coveted World Cup in 1983. Touted as the ‘bravest Indian batsman ever’ by Sunil Gavaskar, Amarnath would go onto live behind an impressive legacy.
Despite a fine start to his international career, he shortly came a cropper, owing to his vulnerability against short balls. Also, to make matters he was up against a few finest fast bowlers in the form of Michael Holding, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee. A series of incessant failures made the selectors take notice and take him out of the equation.
After being knocked out of the team, he started putting a lot more focus into his techniques and upped his game by changing the stance that allowed him a fraction of a second more to play the short balls. He made a comeback to the national team in 1982.
Earlier the nasty fast bowlers who proved to be the reason for his undoing were actually being hammered to the ropes in the most scintillating fashion. In fact, he would go on to smash 6 centuries from 11 matches against the likes of Pakistan and West Indies and all of it would come away from home.
#5 Zaheer Khan
Fast bowling is a rare form of art in India. However, with the burst of new bowlers that has unleashed the likes of Siraj, Shardul, Chahar and Natarajan, Indian pace bowling is in safe hands. If we regress to a couple of decades back, things weren’t even close. With Srinath in his twilight and Prasad out of contention, India had two new faces, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra.
Despite starting on a decent note, ZAK was dropped from the national Test team in 2004-05 owing to a string of sloppy showdowns. However, instead of wilting under pressure, he fought back stronger than ever and played the best domestic season for Worcestershire.
A sequence of fine performances landed him the much-coveted spot in the Indian team again and he was simply untenable now. It was Zaheer’s phenomenal showdown that helped Indian claim the ace position in 2009 in Test cricket and he also led the charge for India in the 2011 World Cup triumph.