2016 was a smashing year for cricket with the World T20 the top drawer tournament scheduled for the year – and boy did it live up to the billing. Staged in the batsman friendly conditions of India, the competition was filled with drama and suspense and it continued from the get go to the final over – literally.
CARLOS BRATHWAITE’S BIG HITTING IN WORLD T20 FINAL
In the final of the extravaganza at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, West Indies and England were in the showdown match after battling the odds to reach this stage. Batting first, England posted 155 runs and handed West Indies a competitive 156 to win. Joe Root (54) and Jos Buttler (36) provided runs for the English side after a top order collapse. In reply, West Indies didn’t enjoy the best of starts with the opening duo of Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles out cheaply to part-timer Root.
Even with wickets falling at the other end, Marlon Samuels stayed strong and stuck about until the end with 85 runs to his name and bag the man of the match awards. However, the name that would be stuck in people’s minds for a long time would be that of Carlos Brathwaite.
Needing 19 runs in the final over, Eoin Morgan handed the duty to Ben Stokes to get the job done in a nervous juncture of the contest. But, as it would turn out, he wouldn’t be able to help England over the line and Brathwaite’s explosive would have much to do for that.
In the final over, Brathwaite would smack the England bowler for four consecutive sixes to help the West Indies team to a surprising victory given the drama surrounding their cricket board and players in the run up to the main event.
Brendon McCullum smashes fastest Test ton
Playing his last Test match, Brendon McCullum didn’t want to go away without a fight or without providing fireworks much to the crowd’s joy. ‘Baz’ scored his fastest Test century in just 54 balls in the first innings of New Zealand’s Test against neighbours Australia at the Hagley Oval.
When he came to the middle, New Zealand were in trouble at 32/3 in the first session and he stepped up the tempo with counter attacking batting to salvage the situation. And in the post lunch session, he increased the speed even further to reach the landmark figure in just 54 balls – two fever than Viv Richards and Misbah-Ul-Haq.
Misbah-Ul-Haq does push ups at Lord’s
Pakistan captain came true on his promise to the Pakistan Army by doing push ups at one of the most iconic venues in world cricket – Lord’s. Just as he brought up his century, the right hander dropped to his hands and knees after a ton in 154 balls.
At the age of 42 years and and 47 days, Misbah did ten push ups with the crowd and Pakistan players applauding. Later he said, “That was my promise to the army guys. We did a camp in Abbottabad before the skill camp in Lahore, and we used to do an honour code every time, we just stepped into the ground and did ten push-ups. And I promised them, if ever I score a hundred, I will definitely do that to remind you that we were there.”
Mohammad Amir returns to cricket
In 2010, Mohammad Amir succumbed to temptation to at Lord’s in what became one of the most controversial time for cricket and embarrassment for Pakistan cricket and the sport in general. And six years after that, Amir returned to the scene of the original crime as Pakistan locked horns with England.
Even though many voiced their displeasure at his return to Lord’s – no less – he did make a successful comeback but didn’t repeat the heroics of the previous outgoing, he did go on to take 12 wickets in the series.
Virat Kohli scores his first double hundred
This list includes Virat Kohli’s first double hundred as sort of a moment where the Indian Test skipper relaxed his arms and flexed his muscles for plenty more runs to follow in the longest format of the game.
Playing against West Indies, with a thin crowd at Antigua, Kohli brought about his first double century in international cricket and his highest score at any level in any format of the game.
Kohli went on to score two more double tons in 2016 with one against New Zealand and another against England.
India clinch ICC Test mace
India and skipper Kohli were presented with the ICC Test Championship mace for leading the ICC Test rankings. The mace was presented by former India batsman and captain Sunil Gavaskar to Kohli after the Indian team had rounded off a dominant showing in Indore to seal a clean sweep over New Zealand.
India were already assured of finishing at the top of the MRF Tyres rankings after winning the second Test at Eden Gardens thus regaining the position from Pakistan who had climbed up post a 2-2 draw with England.
Karun Nair scores 300
Last time an Indian player had breached the 300 run mark in Test cricket was 13 years back and it was by Virender Sehwag. And incidentally, he was the only man to score over 300 runs in Test cricket for India. Until Karun Nair did so in the Chennai Test against England.
Sehwag had two triple hundred’s to his name and Nair became the second Indian to the list and his 300 also came at the same venue as that of Sehwag’s second.
To make his achievement even more impressive is the fact that he is playing just his third Test inning and converted his maiden Test ton into a triple hundred.
Australia suffer first ODI series whitewash
The Aussies hadn’t suffered an ODI series whitewash in their cricketing history – up until South Africa did so in October.
In the third ODI, with Aussies playing to stay alive in the series, David Miller scored an unbeaten 118 at No 6 to chase down 371 to win the series. However the drubbing and humiliation was completed at Newlands when the Aussies weren’t able to chase down the home side’s 327 despite David Warner’s 173.
Many would conclude that this series wasn’t competitive given the number of key players rested by both sides. But, at the end of the day, they all count.
Faf Du Plessis’ ‘Lollygate’
Cricket also had its share of controversies with the lollygate the biggest of them all and the most needless of them all too. As South Africa took a commanding and deserved 2-0 lead in the three match Test series down under, the focus shifted from Australia’s woeful performances to Faf du Plessis’ conduct and allegations of ball tampering.
TV cameras allegedly found him using a mint lolly to shine the surface of the ball and soon enough the fracas saw media following Faf and the Proteas’ movements including an unnecessary shove on a media person.
This alleged infraction earned him an ICC hearing prior to the third Test as he pleaded not guilty. In the end, he was found guilty but not charged and not barred from the day night Test.
India win first Asia Cup in T20 format
With the Asia Cup being played in the T20 format for the very first time, India beat Bangladesh in their own backyard to lift their sixth Continental title.
Played in Mirpur in a rain curtailed contest, India were never really bothered by the hosts and a combined effort by Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan got India close to the win. However, skipper MS Dhoni bagged the winning runs.