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Year Ender 2021: Top Moments From The World Of Cricket

Another year has gone by. 2022 is nearly upon us. Time to reflect on the memories 2021 gave us to cherish. CricketNext takes you through the top moments from the world of cricket in the past 12 months.

The Gabba Heist

Not just a great Indian Test victory but perhaps one of the greatest in cricket history. An injury ravaged Indian team took field with a greenhorn pace attack with their first choice batters, bowlers and even captain (for the major part of the series) not available for the series deciding 4th Test against Australia played from January 7-January 19 this year.

The target was 328. At best, India could have hoped to secure a draw. Instead, they went for the runs. They overhauled the target, by a run and three wickets to spare. Washington Sundar, No.7 in the batting order, nonchalantly hitting Pat Cummins, one of the finest fast bowlers of the current era, for a six was the moment to savour and symbolized the brazenness of the team that became the first to breach fort Gabba in 32 years.

New Zealand, World Champions, Finally

The gut-wrenching ODI World Cup defeat, that too on boundary count, must have done some damage to the spirits of New Zealand cricketers. However, their body language and graciousness was anything but. So the stars lined up again for the Kane Williamson’s bunch of few good men in Southampton and they bested India in the final of the ICC World Test Championship, played across six days.

Also Read: The Toughest Year for Indian Women’s Cricket Team

Kyle Jamieson put in a player-of-the-match performance with the likes of Williamson, Ross Taylor, Devon Conway, Tim Southee and Trent Boult producing a team effort as the Black Caps registered an easy eight-wicket win to lift the trophy.

Rodrigues Roars

The Hundred was launched with much fanfare. And the women’s competition was dominated by an Indian – Jemimah Rodrigues. She finished the inaugural event’s second-highest run-getter with 249 from seven innings but to her credit, she batted in two less innings that the leader Dané Van Niekerk who made 259.

That Rodrigues, who represented Northern Superchargers, was going to be the story of the competition was evident from the first time she batted as the batter smashed 17 fours and a six in her blazing 43-ball 92. And then peeled off two more fifties.

What makes her performance even more impressive is the fact that she was dropped from India’s T20I team following a string of poor returns.

So how did she turn it around? Well, she ignored the criticism, stopped going online, avoided reading stuff about her and kept working hard.

Patel’s Memorable ‘Homecoming’

‘The stars lined up for me’. Ajaz Patel’s summation of his mind-bending, historic achievement was heartening. The Mumbai-born New Zealand left-arm spinner isn’t someone you would count among the elite spinners of the world. He’s far from Ashwins and Lyons of the world. He honed his craft, tirelessly on the punishing, unyielding pitches in New Zealand after migrating there as a schoolboy.

But little he would have imagined that one day, he would return to the place of his birth and do something that only two players have done before him in the history of Test cricket. In India’s first innings of the Mumbai Test in November, Ajaz took all 10 wickets to have fallen and thus became the third ever bowler to do so after Jim Laker and Anil Kumble.

Polosak Creates History

The Australian Claire Polosak continued to break the glass ceiling. She has officiated in several top women’s competitions including the world cups and additionally has several firsts to her name thanks to her involvement in a host of matches in men’s professional cricket. During the Sydney Test between India and Australia in January this year, Polosak became the first female umpire to be involved in a men’s Test as she officiated in it as a fourth umpire.

Australia Get The Elusive Trophy

Australia have won every major white-ball trophy but the T20 World Cup title remained elusive for far too long. At the 2021 T20 World Cup in UAE, where they were among the favourites but not the top contender, captain Aaron Finch ended their frustrating wait.

But it wasn’t a smooth ride as Australia have become used to in having won a bunch of ODI World Cup titles over the years. They started the group stage consecutive wins before England crushed them by eight wickets. Their hopes of making it to the semis eventually were pinned to having a better net run-rate which they achieved. Their challenge didn’t end. They faced unbeaten Pakistan in the last-four stage but a memorable win followed and riding the momentum, they thrashed New Zealand by eight wickets to become the newest champions.

Mandhana’s Record Show

India opener Smriti Mandhana continued to polish her reputation as one of the finest batters of the current era with two sparkling centuries. She finished the year as India’s top run-getter with 255 runs from nine innings. And then became the first Indian to record a century in women’s Big Bash League – a record-equaling 114 off 64 deliveries.

However, it was her strokeful, elegant historic century in the pink-ball Test vs Australia in Carrara that takes the cake. Mandhana belted 22 fours and a six during her 216-ball 127 run knock in the first innings of India women team’s first ever day-night Test.

Root’s Stunning Year

The year 2021 belongs to Joe Root the Test batter. With 1630 runs from 14 Tests, Root has become just the fourth player in the format’s history to breach the 1600-run mark in a calendar year. The record for the most runs in a calendar year belongs to Mohmmad Yousuf who made 1788 runs in 2006. Root still has a Test left in this year and the form that he has been, there’s a real possibility he can surpass that too.

Additionally, Root has also surpassed the legendary Alastair Cook for the record of most Test runs by an England captain now. He also went past Cook for the most 50s by an England captain in Test – Root has 37, one more that Cook now.

Kohli vs BCCI

Whether he’s scoring runs or not, Virat Kohli continues to hit the headlines. While he may have captained India to several Test wins during the year, his topmost performance as an individual came during a presser. He summarily rejected the claims made by BCCI president Sourav Ganguly that they asked him to reconsider his decision to leave T20I captaincy when he informed them of his intent to step down before the T20 World Cup.

Kohli was calm and collected as he responded to the difficult questions posed by the media before leaving for the South Africa tour. He was asked about the BCCI unceremoniously removing him as the ODI captain despite his wish to lead the team at the 2023 world cup. Kohli said he was informed about that decision one-and-a-half-hour before the team selection meeting for the South Africa tour was to be held. He claimed to have not being informed in advance.

Ganguly had said BCCI did ask Kohli to reconsider his decision to leave T20I captaincy and when he didn’t, the call was taken to completely hand over the white-ball leadership duties Rohit Sharma as they didn’t want split captaincy in limited-overs cricket. Kohli countered that saying there was no such proposal and that the board took his decision as a “progressive step”.

Australia Rocked by Another Scandal

With weeks remaining before the Ashes 2021-22 was to get underway, the Australian cricket found itself mired in a major controversy when their Test captain Tim Paine was revealed to have been involved in a texting scandal.

The scandal dates back to 2017 when Paine is alleged to have sent explicit text messages to a female colleague. In a revealing press briefing, Paine apologized for his actions and said it was his decision alone to step away from the captaincy after learning that the texts were to be made public.

“Although Bonnie (Paine’s wife) and I have both known about all this for three years, to have it played out like this is really distressing, and upsetting, and I’m really embarrassed. I feel sick for Bonnie, and for my family more than anything else,” Paine said.

Paine took indefinite break from cricket altogether and eventually, Pat Cummins replaced him as the Australia Test captain with Steve Smith, who himself was relieved of the duties following the 2018 ball tampering scandal, returning into the leadership fold as vice-captain. As it turned out, Cummins, after captaining in the Ashes opener in Gabba, sat out of the Adelaide Test for being a close contact to an individual who contracted coronavirus, Smith was named as the stand-in captain.

Rizwan Rules T20Is

Before 2021 began, Mohammad Rizwan was at best an ordinary T20I batter having managed 313 runs from 26 matches. By the time he had played his final innings of 2021 in the format, Rizwan had finished setting up a record that may perhaps never scaled. In just 26 innings, the Pakistan wicketkeeper-batter amassed 1326 runs at a stunning average of 73.66 including a century and 12 half-centuries.

He is the first ever T20I batter to breach 1,000 run-mark, first to hit more than 10 fifties and 100-plus fours in a calendar year. Astonishing numbers to say the least.

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