In the ongoing World Cup 2023, Indian batting prodigies Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer marked their World Cup debut with a duck each during India’s victory against Australia.

This proves that stepping onto the grand stage of the World Cup can be an intimidating feat, even for seasoned cricketers.

However, they are not alone. Some of cricket’s most celebrated names have faced the dreaded ‘duck’ in their debut appearance at this prestigious tournament.

Let’s explore the tales of five notable players who made their World Cup debut with duck and entered this unforgiving club.

MS Dhoni

Source: Cricinfo

Renowned as one of India’s finest white-ball cricketers, MS Dhoni’s maiden World Cup in 2007 was unexpectedly lacklustre. Despite a stellar start to his ODI career, boasting an average above 40 and an impressive strike rate of 96, Dhoni’s performance in the West Indies tournament left much to be desired.

In India’s inaugural match against Bangladesh, Dhoni faced a disheartening dismissal, bowled out for a mere three-ball duck by left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique. This early exit proved pivotal, as the Men in Blue were bundled out for a modest 191, ultimately losing the game by five wickets.

Unfortunately, Dhoni’s World Cup woes continued in the subsequent match against Sri Lanka, where he managed to score a single run before facing another dismissal. These initial setbacks painted a dismal picture for Dhoni and the Indian team in the tournament.

However, fate took a remarkable turn for Dhoni as in the next edition of World Cup he stood as the triumphant captain, lifting the World Cup trophy on home soil in 2011. This victory marked a historic moment in Indian cricket history and solidified Dhoni’s legacy as a legendary captain.

Dhoni’s journey in the ODI World Cups reflects his ability to transform adversity into triumph. With an impressive average of 43.33 in 29 games and a strike rate of 90, he proved instrumental in India’s success on the world stage. His story stands as a testament to the resilience and determination that define a true cricketing legend.

AB de Villiers

Source: AFP

AB de Villiers, a name synonymous with cricketing brilliance, faced a humble beginning in his World Cup journey. His debut in 2007 mirrored that of MS Dhoni, with both legendary batters dismissed for ducks in their inaugural World Cup matches.

De Villiers’ early ODI career was marked by struggle, with an average languishing at a mere 15.78 in his initial 14 games. However, the dynamic former South Africa captain showcased his mettle in 2006, signifying the promise of a cricketing powerhouse in the making.

Despite these promising signs, De Villiers encountered a tough start in the 2007 World Cup opener against the Netherlands. He was out for a duck after just two balls, contributing to an unforgettable match known for Hershelle Gibbs’ monumental feat of six 6s in an over. South Africa amassed a staggering 353 and clinched victory by a commanding margin of 221 runs.

The 2007 World Cup unfolded as a roller-coaster ride for De Villiers, epitomized by his unique scores of 0, 62, 92, 0, 0, 15, 146, 0, 42, and 15. This remarkable run included a record four ducks alongside three spectacular 50+ scores.

Despite an inconsistent initiation to his World Cup campaign, AB de Villiers transformed into one of the tournament’s most celebrated players. His tally of 1,207 runs in 23 World Cup games, boasting an exceptional average of 63.52 and an explosive strike rate of 117.29, featured four memorable centuries.

Ross Taylor

Source: Cricinfo

The 2007 World Cup seems to have held a unique charm, albeit of a challenging nature, for some of cricket’s legendary batters. Former New Zealand stalwart Ross Taylor found himself in the company of MS Dhoni and AB de Villiers when he was dismissed for a duck in his World Cup debut against England.

The Kiwis were tasked with chasing a modest 210 for victory. However, in a dramatic turn of events, Taylor’s innings was cut short early on, mirroring the tough starts experienced by other cricketing greats in their inaugural World Cup matches. His departure left New Zealand struggling at 3/2 in just the second over. Nonetheless, the team rallied, thanks to vital contributions from Scott Styris and Jacob Oram, securing a six-wicket victory.

Taylor’s cricketing journey, spanning over a decade, has been marked by remarkable achievements. Despite the initial setback, the now-retired Taylor emerged as one of the most formidable ODI batters in the game. With an impressive record of over 8,600 runs at an average of 47.55 and an 83.55 strike rate, including an impressive tally of 21 centuries, Taylor’s contributions to the sport remain profoundly underrated.

Furthermore, his World Cup performance has not gone unnoticed. Across 33 games, Taylor has amassed over 1,000 runs at an average of 37.11, showcasing his consistency on the grand stage. His pivotal role in New Zealand’s journey to the final in both the 2015 and 2019 World Cups solidifies his status as an indispensable figure in the team’s success story.

Ajinkya Rahane

Source: Cricinfo

Amongst the illustrious names in this list, India’s Ajinkya Rahane stands out as one of the most poignant stories. His World Cup debut in 2015 saw him take the field at No.7, a position typically reserved for those who follow the top-order fireworks.

In a match against arch-rivals Pakistan, where Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli set a solid foundation, Rahane’s role was shifted down the batting order to accommodate power hitters earlier on. Demonstrating his characteristic selflessness, the 35-year-old faced the fierce pace of Sohail Khan, resulting in his dismissal for a golden duck in his World Cup debut. Despite this setback, Team India rallied and posted an impressive 300/7 in their allotted 50 overs, eventually clinching victory by a margin of 76 runs.

While Rahane has earned his stripes as one of India’s most accomplished Test batters, his presence in the ODI format has been sporadic. His World Cup journey, limited to the 2015 campaign, showcased glimpses of his tenacity. In eight games, Rahane notched a solitary half-century, averaging 34.66. This modest tally, however, contributed significantly to Team India’s semi-final run in the tournament.

Pathum Nissanka

Source: ICC

In the ongoing World Cup, Sri Lanka’s rising star, Pathum Nissanka, found himself on the wrong side of a cricketing statistic. At just 25 years old, Nissanka has already established himself as one of Sri Lanka’s most dependable batters since his ODI debut in 2021.

However, he faced a formidable challenge in a high-stakes run-chase against South Africa, with a daunting target of 429 runs. This demanded that Nissanka depart from his typically defensive approach and adopt a more aggressive stance. Unfortunately, facing the relentless pace of Marco Jansen, Nissanka’s stay at the crease was brief, resulting in a dismissal for a three-ball duck.

This setback played a role in Sri Lanka’s struggle to mount a significant chase, ultimately culminating in a defeat by a margin of 102 runs. Despite the challenging start, Pathum Nissanka’s presence remains pivotal to Sri Lanka’s aspirations of securing a spot in the World Cup semi-finals. His resilience and determination in the face of adversity are traits that mark him as a player to watch in the future.

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