Dubai: Go back to November 8, 1987. It was the Reliance 50 World Cup final match between Australia and England at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, India. England were on track to beat Australia 135-2, chasing the 254th goal.
Australia captain Alan Border forced himself to move his innocent left hand in a desperate attempt to break the partnership between Mike Gatting and Bill Athey. A moment of madness followed. Gatting played a reverse pass to drop the ball to goalkeeper Greg Dyer, giving the chance to Australia, who slipped home with seven points.
Fast forward to 2021. It’s not the final, but the opening match of the Super 12 of the 20th World Cup. Australia was headed toward South Africa’s lower-than-average goal of 119, with Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell adding 42 runs. Aiden Markram put in a thrilling performance from Smith to give South Africa a big lead.
Three balls later, visions arose to repeat history – this time for Australia – when Maxwell played a reverse pass made only by Tabriz Shams. An unjustified kick when Australia lost a small gate and scoring was not easy. Is Maxwell Gatting? Well, the sheer size of the opportunity is not the same. But that blow could have cost Australia the match.
This did not happen. Matthew Wade, who survived moments of fright, and Marcus Stoines secured Australia’s two-ball win. A reverse sweep can transform fortunes. Ask Gaten.
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