Big Match Players: There have been players whose records in big finals stand out clearly. These players might not have necessarily had the best average or strike rate overall but they raise their game when the need arises. It is the big occasion that brings out the best in them. They might have had a quiet tournament until that point but they tend to shine in the big final. It is these player performances that are forever enriched in fan memories.
We Look at Several Such Big Match Players in History:
#1 Mohinder Amarnath
He was known to be a tough customer who thwarted the great West Indian attack. But Mohinder Amarnath’s moment in the sun came in the 1983 World Cup. He became the first player to win the player of the match award in both semis and finals of a World Cup. Amarnath stepped up on the big occasion with both bat and ball. It has been four decades but his stellar contribution still stands tall.
#2 Aravinda de Silva
He was known as Mad Max. Aravinda de Silva was arguably Sri Lanka’s finest batsman of his generation. Arjuna Ranatunga, the Lankan captain then had immense belief in Silva. Aravinda’s overcall career numbers are anything but spectacular. But it was his knocks in the semis and finals of the 1996 World Cup that he will be remembered for.
Sri Lanka had lost both their attacking openers in the first over of the semifinals. Enter Aravinda who counterattacked brilliantly. He took Lanka to an above-par score on a treacherous pitch. Aravinda went one better scoring a century in the final to go with his 3 wickets.
#3 Shane Warne
There was no one better than Shane Keith Warne to identify the big occasion. He turned the 1999 World Cup semifinal on its head with a spin bowling masterclass. South Africa was cruising in the first 12 overs scoring 48 without losing a wicket.
Shane Warne in his first over itself showed what he had up his sleeves. He bowled a spell that read 10-1-29-4 thereby denting the Proteas big time. Warne repeated the feat in the finals picking up another four-wicket haul against Pakistan.
#4 Adam Gilchrist
Indian fans remember Ricky Ponting’s assault in the 2003 World Cup final but it was Adam Gilchrist who started the carnage. The wicketkeeper-batsman holds the record of smashing three fifty-plus scores in three consecutive World Cup finals. He scored fifties in the finals of both the 1999 and 2003 World Cups while stroking a big century in the 2007 World Cup final. Gilchrist just turned up differently for the big occasions.
#5 Gautam Gambhir
The Indian team fashionably failed to win the finals in the early 2000s. It was under MS Dhoni that the trend started to reverse. Aiding him big time in the finals was a southpaw who helped India swim out of tough waters.
Gautam Gambhir top-scored in both the World Cup finals that India ended up winning. His 75 in the 2007 T20 World Cup was a knock that settled Indian nerves. He scored a fabulous 97 in the 2011 ODI World Cup final. It was a knock that soaked the pressure of a billion hearts.
#6 Marlon Samuels
He might not give the impression of being a serious cricketer. Marlon Samuels though turned up on the big night. He is the only cricketer who has won the player of the match in two T20 World Cup finals. Samuels scored more than half the runs on both occasions against Sri Lanka and England in 2012 and 2016 respectively.
He might not be part of regular conversations when it comes to match-winners, but Samuels has his own place in cricketing echelons.
#7 Ben Stokes
There have been very few cricketers who have been as mentally strong as Ben Stokes. From being someone who conceded the World Cup in 2016 to help his side win the 2022 edition, Stokes’ journey is now complete. He showcased his big-game side when he took England to ODI World Cup glory in 2019. Despite questions surrounding his place in the T20I side, Stokes singlehandedly won England the final with a maiden T20I fifty.