In the realm of cricket, bowling a no-ball is deemed a grave offense. The stakes are raised even higher when a team competes against a formidable opponent in an ICC knockout match, and a batsman from the opposing side gets dismissed on an unfair delivery but survives due to the bowler’s error.
A recent example of such a scenario occurred during the 2023 World Test Championship (WTC) final between Australia and India. In the first innings, Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur were granted reprieves as the Australian captain, Pat Cummins, bowled no-balls. However, this mistake did not hamper Cummins’ team as they comfortably secured victory in the end.
Over the years, several instances have emerged where batsmen were given lifelines in knockout matches due to no-balls delivered by opposing bowlers. Exploiting the grave errors of their opponents, these batsmen altered the course of the game, propelling their teams to triumph in the knockout contests.
Here are three noteworthy instances when batsmen received lifelines due to no-balls bowled in ICC knockout matches:
Rohit Sharma – 2015 World Cup quarter-final
During the second quarter-final of the 2015 World Cup held at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), India clashed with Bangladesh. After winning the toss, Indian captain MS Dhoni elected to bat first.
While India’s openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, provided a solid start, Bangladesh made a comeback after 16 overs when Shakib Al Hasan dismissed Dhawan (scoring 30 runs off 50 deliveries) and Rubel Hossain sent Virat Kohli back to the pavilion (scoring three runs off eight balls).
Rahane also fell cheaply, but Rohit held firm in the middle to guide the team to a substantial total. When Sharma was on 90, he got caught off Rubel Hossain’s delivery. However, the umpire ruled it as a no-ball, granting Sharma another opportunity. Capitalizing on this lifeline, Sharma concluded his innings on a remarkable 137 off just 126 balls. Powered by Rohit’s outstanding knock, the Men in Blue set a commanding total of 302 runs, securing a resounding 109-run victory over Bangladesh. Rohit Sharma was rightfully awarded the Player of the Match for his sensational performance.
Fakhar Zaman – 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final
The defeat suffered by the Indian cricket team at the hands of arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2017 Champions Trophy final was a bitter pill to swallow for Indian fans. The high-voltage match took place at The Oval, where Indian captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to field first. Pakistan’s opening batsmen, Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali, struggled to score runs in the initial overs.
A crucial moment arose for Pakistan when Fakhar Zaman was caught by MS Dhoni off the first delivery of the second over bowled by Jasprit Bumrah. However, luck favored Pakistan as television replays revealed that Bumrah had overstepped the line, resulting in a no-ball. Capitalizing on this fortunate reprieve, the left-handed Fakhar Zaman unleashed a blistering knock of 114 runs off 106 balls, propelling his team to a total of 338-4.
Zaman’s superb innings filled the Pakistani bowlers with confidence, leading them to outclass the Indian batsmen and secure a comfortable 180-run victory. Following Zaman’s match-winning performance, he received overwhelming support from Pakistan supporters.
Lendl Simmons – ICC T20 World Cup 2016 semi-finals
On the evening of March 31, 2016, Indian cricket enthusiasts were filled with anticipation as India and West Indies clashed in the second semi-final of the ICC T20 World Cup 2016 at the Wankhede Stadium. The stadium was packed with an enthusiastic crowd, predominantly comprising Indian fans who anticipated a victory for the Men in Blue and a place in the final.
During the toss, West Indies captain Daren Sammy won the toss against his counterpart MS Dhoni and invited the hosts to bat first. In this crucial match, Virat Kohli delivered a stellar performance, remaining unbeaten with a powerful knock of 89 runs off 47 balls, propelling India to a total of 192 runs at the end of their 20 overs.
Chasing the formidable target, the West Indies lost their opener, Chris Gayle, and top-order batsman Marlon Samuels early within the powerplay overs. However, power-hitting from Johnson Charles and Lendl Simmons brought the Windies back into the game.
India had a couple of opportunities to stage a comeback, with Simmons getting caught twice off deliveries from Ravichandran Ashwin and Hardik Pandya. Unfortunately for India, both instances were called no-balls as the bowlers had overstepped the line. Exploiting India’s indisciplined bowling, Simmons played an unbeaten innings of 82 runs, guiding the West Indies to victory with seven wickets in hand.