History shows the folly of judging a series by its start

Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand manoeuvre for starting positions in race 10 of the...
Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand manoeuvre for starting positions in race 10 of the America's Cup in 2013. PHOTO: CHRIS CAMERON
India produced one of the great turnarounds in sporting history by claiming a 2-1 win in  its test series against Australia this week. It followed a first-test thrashing in which it was bowled out for 36. Jeff Cheshire looks at some other great mid-campaign turnarounds.

Oracle (2013)

Hate to bring this one up, but it is timely. Team New Zealand looked unbeatable as it cruised to an 8-1 lead in the America’s Cup. Then all of a sudden it could not keep up with the American boat. Not only did Oracle claim a 9-8 victory, it made it seem like a foregone conclusion — it was just too good midway through its comeback.

Southern Steel (2018)

The Steel’s second championship season was also the one in which it suffered its worst loss. It was crushed 71-40 by a rampant Central Pulse team in Porirua mid-season. The 31-goal deficit was 12 more than its next biggest loss. Less than three months later it battled into the final and scored the final seven goals to rob the Pulse 54-53 and claim the title.

France rugby (2011)

The tension, the nerves, the drama. It was certainly a stressful watch as France came within a point of denying the All Blacks in the 2011 Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park. That seemed unlikely a few weeks earlier when France was beaten 37-17 by the All Blacks in the pool stages, before being upset 19-14 by Tonga. Had it not been for Tonga being edged by Canada, largely due to an unlucky draw, France would not have even made it out of the pool.

Cleveland Cavaliers (2016)

The Cleveland Cavaliers overturned a 3-1 finals deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors and win the 2016 NBA title. But even more compelling was the way it lost those games — notably falling to a 110-77 demolition in game 2.

England cricket (1981)

England trailed Australia 1-0 after the first two Ashes tests and Ian Botham was sacked as captain, replaced by Mike Brearley. The team came back to win 3-1, spurred on by Botham’s brilliance with bat and ball, leading to the series becoming known as Botham’s Ashes.

Crusaders (1998)

The Crusaders lost three of their first four games in the 1998 Super 12. At that point they looked set for another average season, following the last-placed finish in 1996 and sixth the year before. But they went on a 10-game winning streak, ending with a 20-19 win over a heavily favoured Blues team in the final.

St Louis Cardinals (2011)

By mid-season the Cardinals had slumped to a 1.3% chance of making the Major League Baseball playoffs. They found form went on to win the World Series and became possibly the most unlikely champions in history.

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