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FROM GUWAHATI TO GABBA: BEST CRICKET PERFORMANCES OF 2017 – The Manipal Journal
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FROM GUWAHATI TO GABBA: BEST CRICKET PERFORMANCES OF 2017

With the recent declaration of the International Cricket Council’s annual awards for 2017, the debate regarding the rating of individual performances over match impact has resurfaced. ‘An individual player is only as good as his team’, has been the common cricketing notion throughout the game’s glorious being, but in the modern-day practice of number crunching, many gems go unnoticed.

Therefore, the editorial team at The Manipal Journal decided to scour through the past year’s cricketing action to determine the best performances across all formats. Numbers are not the ultimate parameter to gauge the impact of performances. Various factors like conditions, series impact and match pressure have been taken into consideration. A slow, gritty inning can prove to be way more valuable to the team on a seaming track than a quick-fire one on a belter.

There have been striking discoveries during the process. The list fails to find a place for Virat Kohli, the Men’s Cricketer of the Year, the Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year, and also the captain for the Test and ODI teams of the Year. Creating a list for women’s cricket proved to be an arduous task, not because of the standard of the game, but due to the sheer lack of games. The four-day women’s Ashes encounter between England and Australia was the only women’s test played during the entire year apart from a handful of limited-overs fixtures, whose numbers were relatively distended only because of the Women’s World Cup. This resulted in the selection of only one best performance across formats, and the absence of a best women’s test bowling performance.

Best T20I Bowling Performance (Women)

Anna Peterson vs. Australia, Simonds Stadium, Victoria
Wickets: 3 | Overs: 1 | Runs: 2 | Economy: 2.00

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Six deliveries. That is all Anna Peterson needed to bag this title. With Australia requiring 11 runs for victory in a rain-shortened 13-over-chase, Peterson came into bowl her first over of the match. Jess Jonassen fell on the first delivery, providing a sensational start to the over. Peterson followed it up with the wickets of Healy and Schutt, thus becoming the first New Zealander to take a T20I hat-trick and also sealing a slender 8-run victory for the Kiwis.

Best T20I Bowling Performances (Men)

3. Chris Morris vs. England, County Ground, Taunton
Wickets: 2 | Overs: 4 | Runs: 18 | Economy: 4.50

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Dot balls are considered pure gold in the context of T20s. If that holds true, Chris Morris could very well fancy himself as a goldsmith, bowling as many as 16 dots in the match to tie England up. Other than picking up the two crucial scalps of Billings and Bairstow, Morris decisively turned the match in South Africa’s favour by bowling with an economy of 4.5 in an innings where the average run-rate was 8.55. The Proteas clinched a narrow three-run victory to level the series 1-1.

 

2. Jason Behrendorff vs. India, ACA Stadium, Guwahati
Wickets: 4 | Overs: 4 | Runs: 21 | Economy: 5.25

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Having already lost the ODI series and coming off a rain-curtailed disappointment in the first T20I, it was a matter of desperate redemption for Australia. As has always been the case with the Kangaroos, they found a game-changer, this time in the form of rookie leftie Jason Behrendorff. Though being hit for two boundaries in the first over, Behrendorff made a stunning comeback. He menacingly curled two deliveries in, and India’s batting mainstays, Sharma and Kohli, found themselves back in the pavilion. On a tacky Guwahati pitch, Warner opted to bowl Behrendorff out, which paid rich dividends as the hosts were left tottering at seven for four, a position from where they never recovered. Australia thus ended their seven-match losing streak against India and levelled the three-match series 1-1.

 

1. Jasprit Bumrah vs. England, VCA Stadium, Nagpur
Wickets: 2 | Overs: 4 | Runs: 20 | Economy: 5.00

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Numbers aren’t always the indication of the impact created by a bowler created in a match. Never has this been truer than in the case of modern pace sensation Jasprit Bumrah, whose toe-crushing yorkers and tight death bowling ensured that Kohli and co. defended a paltry score of 139 with relative ease. Defending 7 runs in the 20th over with Root and Butler still at the crease would generally seem like an improbable task. The 22-year old though miraculously accomplished the task and India won the tussle by 5 runs. A mere two runs including a leg-bye were scored in the final over. Bumrah’s splendid performance with the ball helped him earn his first Man-of-the-match, a year after his international debut.

Best T20I Batting Performance (Women)

Danielle Wyatt vs. Australia, Manuka Oval, Canberra
Runs: 100 | Balls: 57 | Fours: 13 | Sixes: 2 | S.R.: 175.43

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Overshadowing a brilliant 70-ball 117 by Beth Mooney in the first innings, Danielle Wyatt scored the first ever T20I hundred by an Englishwoman to secure a four-wicket consolation win for her side. Chasing a stiff target of 179, England found themselves tottering at 30 for three. Skipper Heather Knight proved to be the perfect support to Wyatt whose dominating stroke play blew Australia away.

 

Best T20I Batting Performances (Men)

3: Evin Lewis vs India, Sabina Park, Kingston
Runs: 125* | Balls: 62 | Fours: 6 | Sixes: 12 | S.R.: 201.61

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It is not every day that two batsmen of the top three score at a strike rate of just 110, in a successful run-chase of 9.5 runs per over. In pursuit of a stiff target of 191, Evin Lewis batted in beast mode from the very onset, reaping fantastic returns as he blasted his way to the highest individual score in a T20I run chase. Scoring close to 65% of his side’s runs, Lewis presented no chance to the Indians as the Windies romped home to a nine-wicket win in the one-off T20.

 

2: Dawid Malan vs South Africa, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Runs: 78 | Minutes: 60 | Balls: 44 | Fours: 12 | Sixes: 2 | S.R.: 177.27

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The series is locked 1-1 and England have lost their first wicket with just 13 runs on the board in the deciding encounter. To top it, they’re without the services of their charismatic captain, Eoin Morgan. If you’re a debutante, walking in at number three is bound to be an arduous task. Not for Dawid Johannes Malan though, who soaked up the pressure with tremendous ease and went on to record the highest score by a debuting English T20I player. Malan emerged as the top-scorer of the match, compiling 43% of his team’s total runs to set-up a convincing 19-run win against the Proteas.

 

1: Rohit Sharma vs Sri Lanka, Holkar Stadium, Indore
Runs: 118 | Minutes: 61 | Balls: 43 | Fours: 12| Sixes: 10 | S.R.: 274.41

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Sri Lanka were a depleted side, the track at Indore was an absolute belter and the dimensions of the ground weren’t the grandest. But this innings from the Stand-in Indian skipper tops the list purely considering the elegant brutality of it. The onslaught on the hapless Lankan bowlers was relentless as Sharma kept tonking the ball to all parts of the park, but neither appeared to lose shape nor throw the wicket away. He brought up his second T20I ton on only the 35th delivery he faced, thus equalling the record for the fastest century in the shortest format of the game. This blitz from Sharma powered India to their highest ever T20I team total of 260 for five.

Best ODI Bowling Performance (Women)

Anya Shrubsole vs. India, Lord’s, London
Wickets: 6 | Overs: 9.4 | Runs: 46 | Economy: 4.75

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11 runs required off the last two overs with India eight down, this scenario made for a nail-biting climax to the grandest Women’s World Cup Finale ever played. The game lasted for four more deliveries as Anya Shrubsole cleaned up the remaining two Indian batters to hand the hosts their fourth World Cup triumph through a stunning nine-run victory. Playing in front of a capacity crowd, England found themselves under tremendous pressure to defend a below-par 228 on an ever easing pitch. The hosts found their star in Shrubsole, who with her career-best haul of six vital scalps strangled the Indian batting line-up to cap-off a dream tournament for her country.

 

Best ODI Bowling Performances (Men)

3. Trent Boult vs. Australia, Seddon Park, Hamilton
Wickets: 6 | Overs: 10 | Runs: 33 | Maidens: 1 | Economy: 3.30

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Coming into the match with an unassailable 1-0 lead, the Kiwis were upbeat about their chances to win the Chappell–Hadlee Trophy. On the other hand, Australians were eyeing their first win of the tour. With the help of Ross Taylor’s 107, Kiwis managed to score 281 in 50 overs. Owing to the nature of the pitch, an exciting chase was expected but left-armer Trent Boult seemed to have other plans. His ability to swing the ball both ways left the Aussie batsmen in disarray. Boult registered his then career-best figures by rattling the Aussies for 257. New Zealand thus registered their eighth consecutive bilateral ODI series victory at home.

 

2. Jason Holder vs. India, North Sound, Antigua
Wickets: 5 | Overs: 9.4 | Runs: 27 | Economy: 2.79

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Defending a modest total of 189 against a destructive Indian batting line-up would have been an uphill task, especially so for a West Indian side low on victories. Their skipper Jason Holder proved to be the thorn in India’s plans as he marshalled his troops to achieve the unthinkable. Holder showed the way with a brilliant fifer as India were strangled courtesy regular wickets. Dhoni couldn’t finish the match like he once used to in the prime of his career, and the Windies pocketed a thrilling 11-run victory to claw their way back into the series.

 

1. Rashid Khan vs. West Indies, Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Gros Islet
Wickets: 7 | Overs: 8.4 | Runs: 18 | Economy: 2.07

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The Afghan leggie surely made waves in the IPL, but it was this breath-taking spell that made the world bow down to his genius. Defending a mere 212, Afghanistan were in a tight spot as the hosts were comfortably placed at 68 for two. Khan was introduced into the attack and he immediately responded, taking two wickets off his first two deliveries to reduce the Windies to 68 for four. The batsmen were unable to pick Khan’s wrong ‘uns and eventually surrendered five more wickets to his guile. West Indies were skittled out for a mere 149 to hand Afghanistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series.

 

Best ODI Batting Performance (Women)

Harmanpreet Kaur vs Australia, County Ground, Derby
Runs: 171* | Balls: 115 | Fours: 20 | Sixes: 7 | S.R.: 148.69

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For effective lessons on gear-shifting, aspiring batters needn’t look any further than Harmanpreet Kaur’s blitz which blew away defending champions Australia in the semi-final of the ICC Women’s World Cup. While Kaur’s batting was all about watchful sustenance when the chips were down at 35 for two, the slog overs saw the 28-year-old unleash a barrage of field splitting bullets and heaven touching strikes. Though Kaur’s first fifty came off 64 deliveries, she achieved her highest ever ODI score of 171 only through an additional 51 balls. Having already lost the group-stage encounter to Australia, India needed to erect a massive total for Australia to chase down, and Kaur ensured the bowlers had a comfortable cushion of 281 in a 42-over-a-side match.

 

Best ODI Batting Performances (Men)

3: Shakib-Mahmudullah Partnership vs New Zealand, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Runs: 224 | Minutes: 148 | Balls: 209 | Fours: 8 | Sixes: 2 | S.R.: 100.98

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This entry is a partnership, not an individual performance – the reason? Both Shakib and Mahmudullah were equals while forging inarguably Bangladesh’s best partnership in the Champions Trophy. Pursuing a below-par yet a mountainous target of 266, hopes of Bangladesh reaching their maiden CT semi-final were dashed when they were reeling at 33 for four in the twelfth over. Then began the greatest rescue act of the tournament as Shakib and Mahmudullah rebuilt the innings and gradually brought the asking rate considerably down. Both the batsman brought up individual tons on their way of recording Bangladesh’s best ODI partnership which paved the way for a semi-final berth.

 

2: Tom Latham vs India, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Runs: 103* | Minutes: 148 | Balls: 102 | Fours: 8 | Sixes: 2 | S.R.: 100.98

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Perhaps the most unassuming batsman in the New Zealand line-up, Tom Latham made the most of his calm demeanour to trump Kohli’s India, perhaps the most ruthless limited-overs side in home conditions. With a stiff target of 281 fuelled by Kohli’s 31st ODI ton, the Kiwis found themselves all at sea in Mumbai as they lost their top three with 201 tricky runs still to get. That is when the diminutive Latham partnered with Ross Taylor to sweep India out of the contest with a double-century stand, playing the fancy spin attack with ease, securing a famed 1-0 lead over the number one side.

 

1: Fakhar Zaman vs India, The Oval, London
Runs: 114 | Minutes: 142 | Balls: 106 | Fours: 12 | Sixes: 3 | S.R.: 107.54

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Playing only his fourth ODI innings, Fakhar Zaman made the most of the reprieve he received from Bumrah’s overstepping in the fourth over of the Champions Trophy final to bring up one of Pakistan’s greatest centuries. Zaman constantly moved across the crease to disrupt the bowlers’ rhythm and had everyone awe-struck with the acceleration in the latter half of his innings. Though he departed in the 34th over, he had already set Pakistan up for a grand finish, which they eventually achieved. The daunting target of 339 proved too much even for the famed Indian batting line-up, who folded up for 158 to hand their neighbours a fairy-tale finish.

 

Special Mention: Kedar Jadhav vs. England, Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune
Runs: 122 | Balls: 76 | Fours: 12 | Sixes: 4 | S.R.: 157.89

Kohli is universally considered the best when it comes to run chases, but Kedar Jadhav’s onslaught against England at his home turf made Kohli’s innings of 122 seem a mere second fiddle. Chasing 350 looked like a distant dream when the hosts were reeling at 4-63, especially with the master finisher MS Dhoni back in the hut. The onus shifted to Kohli and the relatively inexperienced Kedar Jadhav. The duo stitched a series-defining partnership of 200 runs for the fifth wicket. While Kohli steered the partnership by frequent rotation of the strike, Jadhav played aggressively. Nearly 60% of Jadhav’s runs came via boundaries, indicating that he wasn’t hesitant to play his strokes. India went on to win the match with 11 balls to spare and took a 1-0 lead in three-match ODI series.

 

Best Test Bowling Performances

3. Shakib Al Hasan vs. Australia, Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka
Wickets: 10 | Overs: 53.5 | Runs: 153 | Economy: 2.83

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In what can be described as Bangladesh’s best performance in the longest format of the game, Shakib Al Hasan led from the front taking five wickets in each of the innings. While his haul enabled his side to take a vital 43-run lead in the first innings, his second inning performance was truly a class apart. Pursuing a target of 65, Australia were coasting along at 158 for two, with the experienced pair of Warner and Smith putting on a 130-run stand. Shakib scripted a sensational Bangla comeback as he sent both the batsmen back into the hut. Bangladesh secured a tight 20-run victory to register their first ever test win against Australia.

 

2. Rangana Herath vs. Pakistan, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Wickets: 11 | Overs: 61.4 | Runs: 136 | Economy: 2.20

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Sri Lanka didn’t have the best transition period when their senior players retired, resulting in an underdog tag. Add to that the fact that they were playing a Pakistani side high on confidence in their adopted home, and the Lankans were never really given a chance. The first test seemed to be heading towards a meek defeat after they set Pakistan a lowly target of 136, but Rangana Herath’s six for 43 changed the script of the match. With Pakistan nine down at 114, Herath took his sixth wicket of the innings and 400th of his test career to bowl his nation to a spectacular 21-run victory.

 

1. Steve O’Keefe vs. India, Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune
Wickets: 12 | Overs: 28 | Runs: 70 | Economy: 2.5

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There is a usual tendency by overseas spinners coming to India, of getting carried away by the viciously turning tracks. They tend to experiment a lot, beating and missing the blade. Steve O’Keefe showed the perfect template, keeping it simple against India. He landed his deliveries on accurate lengths, letting the surface and his natural variation do the work. He eventually plundered 6 wickets apiece in each innings against the best players of spin in their own backyard, helping Australia take an early 1-0 lead against the high-flying-hosts in the series of the year. Incidentally, this was also Australia’s first win on Indian soil since 2004.

 

Best Test Batting Performance (Women)

Ellyse Perry vs. England, North Sydney Oval
Runs: 213 | Minutes: 60 | Balls: 374 | Fours: 27 | Sixes: 1 | S.R.: 56.95

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The only women’s test in 2017 had a lot going on. England and Australia were playing for the urn through four days of an intense contest with a pink ball under lights. Ellyse Perry put all her intensity to the fore as her marathon innings rescued Australia from the threat of gifting a lead to the English to finally getting one worth 168 runs themselves. Though Perry’s knock could not materialize into an Australian win, it became the highest test score by an Australian woman.

 

Best Test Batting Performances (Men)

3: Peter Handscomb vs India, JSCA Stadium, Ranchi
Runs: 72 | Minutes: 261 | Balls: 200 | Fours: 7 | S.R.: 36.00

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It takes something spectacular for a knock to not be a triple-figure one but still make it to this list, and a truly splendid inning it was from Peter Handscomb. Batting on the final day of a spluttering Indian surface is a tough task but Handscomb showed the quintessential Aussie attitude, batting with a temperament which visiting sides seemed to have forgotten of late. A defeat was looming for Australia as their highest run-getter of the series and batting talisman, Steve Smith went into the hut during the 1st session of the final day’s play. With the team reeling at 63 for four, Handscomb and Shaun Marsh (53 off 236 balls) stitched a potential series-defining partnership worth 124 runs, eating away a crucial 62 overs. The match ended in a draw but the way it was saved by Marsh and Handscomb made it equivalent to a victory.

 

2: Steve Smith vs England, The Gabba, Brisbane
Runs: 141 | Minutes: 512 | Balls: 326 | Fours: 14 | S.R.: 43.25

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Steve Smith has a penchant for scoring big runs in the toughest conditions, but this knock would rank among his career’s finest. Rescuing Australia from a wobbly 76 for four, Smith constructed the slowest but one of his most authoritative innings as he almost single-handedly eked out a slender 26-run lead for the hosts on a testing Gabba track. The marathon knock from the Aussie skipper set the tone for the Ashes as England never made a come-back and eventually found themselves on the receiving end of a 4-0 drubbing.

 

1: Shai Hope vs England, Headingley, Leeds
Runs: 265 | Minutes: 664 | Balls: 464 | Fours: 37 | S.R.: 57.11

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Coming off a disastrous outing in the first test at Edgbaston, where the Windies lost 19 wickets on the third day to surrender an innings victory to England, Shai Hope probably gave the batting performance of the decade, orchestrating one of the most stunning comebacks in test cricket history. If his first innings essay of 147 was all about giving his team the early initiative, his unbeaten 118 in the second innings was a masterclass in the 321-run fourth innings chase. Hope found an able partner in Kraigg Brathwaite, and the duo’s record-breaking 246-run stand sealed a five-wicket win over the hosts, their first ever win on English soil in 17 years.

 

Special Mention: Shakib Al Hasan vs. New Zealand, Basin Reserve, Wellington
Runs: 217 | Minutes: 418 | Balls: 276 | Fours: 31 | S.R.: 78.62

Describing conditions in Bangladesh and New Zealand, one tends to use diametrically opposite terms, be it the bounce, lateral movement, or pace. Under such alien conditions and the ever-growing flak sub-continental batsmen face while playing on lively tracks, Bangladesh’s cricketing superstar cut with conviction and pulled to perfection, swerved away from the chin music and leaned on to the drives, to register his nation’s highest ever individual score. With the scorecard reading 160 for four, a batting collapse seemed inevitable against Southee and Boult. Here, Shakib combined with Mushfiqur to pile on a mammoth 359 runs for the fifth wicket, easily the most glorious play for the team away from home. Though Bangladesh scored a massive 595 in first innings, they earned the dubious record of the highest ever total in a losing cause, due to impressive knocks from Latham and Williamson.

 

Edited by Sherry Phillips and Pravin C

Featured Image Courtesy: Google Images

 

Sumit Singh, Saraswat Mandarapu and Pravin C

praveen1606@yahoo.co.in

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