The coronavirus pandemic has forced cancellations and postponements of most big-ticket sports tournaments. If the lack of sporting action has left a void in your day, here's something to satiate that hunger — our pick of classic matches from the years gone by that you should revisit.
Auckland witnesses its second tied ODI
Eden Park was the stage as India denied New Zealand victory in 2014. Following a rare failure in a run-chase for captain M. S. Dhoni, R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja played two defining knocks to help India level the scores off the last ball.
Chasing 315, India was six down for 184 when all-rounder Corey Anderson prised out Dhoni. India didn’t have much batting to follow. Jadeja joined Ashwin with the result not quite set in stone but India battling to stay afloat.
Ashwin displayed finesse to score at more than a run-a-ball. A delivery on leg-stump, he tucked it away fine for four; a short-ball around off and he helped it over the ‘keeper for four, and in between he edged one fine to the third-man boundary for another four, adding to New Zealand’s frustration.
He brought up his first and only ODI fifty by reverse-sweeping Nathan McCullum for a boundary. The first ball of the 45 over, bowled by McCullum, Ashwin stepped out and lofted it for a six, bringing the equation down to 48 runs off 35 balls. Ashwin seemed to connect the fifth ball of the over just as well and it was sailing away until Martin Guptill got around the midwicket boundary and plucked the ball out of the air.
Ashwin departed for a 46-ball 65 but it was all down to Jadeja. He watched Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami come and go but didn't lose his rhythm. New Zealand squeezed India but Jadeja rose to the occasion: Mitchell McClenaghan missed his attempted yorker in the 47th over and it disappeared for a six.
Anderson conceded just two runs while removing Shami in the 48th over, leaving India 29 to get off the last 12 balls. Anderson had an over up his sleeve.
Jadeja cleared the boundary on the second ball of the penultimate over. He was dropped off the next. After eight runs off the first three balls, India managed only three off the next three.
Eighteen to get off six balls now.
The first ball went for a four, followed by a wide. India needed 13 off five. Anderson pulled it back with successive dot balls. The fourth ball of the over was another wide. Twelve to get off three balls. Jadeja picked his spot and hit the legitimate fourth delivery for a four. The fifth was muscled away for a six over midwicket. Two runs to get off one.
Varun Aaron was at the non-striker’s end. Jadeja got bat on ball and the batsmen scampered for a single that sealed the tie!
Federer stuck on 20
It could so easily have been Grand Slam number 21 for Roger Federer. He had earned himself two Championship points after a breathless battle in the fifth set, which alone lasted two hours and two minutes.
Surely, at 8-7 and 40-15 up, he will convert one of them? He’s playing on his favourite surface, the crowd’s behind him, what can possibly go wrong?
The only possible explanation could be that the sight of the man on the other side of the net, perhaps, induced the unforced forehand error which cost him one Championship point before his all-too-familiar adversary hit a forehand winner of his own to make it deuce and went on to break for 8-8.
It was indeed Novak Djokovic who stood between Federer and a ninth Wimbledon title for the Swiss icon. Djokovic and Federer held each of their next four service games to make it 12-12 and send it to a seven-point tiebreak, which was introduced only the year before. The Serbian won it 7-3 to seal his fifth title at the All-England Club to go level with Bjorn Borg and Lawrence Doherty.
At the post-match press conference, a despondent Federer said: “I don’t know what I feel right now. I just feel like it’s such an incredible opportunity missed, I can’t believe it.”
Djokovic won 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12 (3) in four hours and 57 minutes, making the 2019 Wimbledon final the longest in the Championships’s history.
A Croat makes himself an Anfield hero
At times Liverpool just seems to make it harder for itself. Putting its army of fans through an emotional roller-coaster and allowing its opponents a momentary high before sucker-punching them at the opportune moment.
It so happens that Anfield is often the stage where we see the very best of Liverpool.
In April 2016, the Reds teased Borussia Dortmund into thinking it had defied those conventions to put itself on the cusp of that year’s Europa League final. Jurgen Klopp, having left Dortmund the previous summer and merely months into his tenure as Liverpool manager, was the centre of attention on the touchline.
The first leg of the tie played at Westfalenstadion had finished 1-1. Liverpool bagged the crucial away goal.
Dortmund began the second leg Liverpool-style: sprightly, zipping passes into each other’s feet and causing defensive chaos with pace and movement.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan converted a rebound off Simon Mignolet to cancel out Liverpool’s away goal and four minutes later Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang connected with a Marco Reus throughball to put Dortmund 2-0 up on the night, 3-1 ahead on aggregate.
With 45 minutes of the tie left to play, Liverpool was left needing at least three goals to go through.
Divock Origi, signed from Lille the previous summer, halved Dortmund’s lead with a close-range finish three minutes after resumption. Liverpool consistently sliced through Dortmund's backline with fast build-up play but was vulnerable on the break. One turnover in possession ended with Reus curling the ball low into the corner to restore Dortmund’s two-goal advantage.
With 33 minutes of regulation time left, it was Dortmund’s tie to lose.
Thomas Tuchel’s side failed to control the tempo and kept conceding chances. Liverpool, as it was, needed to score three to go through. Philippe Coutinho found the net with a curling effort to spark the comeback. Dortmund failed to deal with a corner delivered by the Brazilian and Mamadou Sakho directed his header past Roman Weidenfeller to level the score for Liverpool, now behind only on away goals with 13 minutes left.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Croatian defender Dejan Lovren rose above Adrian Ramos and applied a from a James Milner cross, the ball nestling in the corner as he wheeled away in wild celebration. He had earned his crowning moment, Anfield went delirious, while Klopp did his best to control his emotions.
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