REVIEW – 2012 year-end recap (Best matches of the year)

  This is the fifth and final part of my Year-End Review of 2012, and here we look at the best international matches from across all formats that were played in the year. The short list includes two Tests, a One Day International, a Twenty20 international and a Women’s T20 International:-

1) Australia v South Africa 2nd Test, Adelaide

  That a thrilling draw was the best match of the year underlines the greatness of Test cricket. World champions South Africa staged one of the greatest escapes ever seen in Test history at the Adelaide Oval – the draw was not sealed until just two balls of the game were left. Michael Clarke (230) cracked yet another double ton as Australia amassed 482/5 on the first day itself. The South Africans fought back through Morne Morkel (5/146) to dismiss the hosts for 550, but the run rate was a scary 5.12. Imran Tahir’s figures read 0/180 in 23 overs. Their openers Greame Smith and Alviro Petersen replied strongly with a 138-run stand, Smith making 122. Debutant Francois ‘Faf’ du Plessis made 78 while injury-hit Kallis scored 58 from No.9, as the Proteas made 388. At the end of the third day, Australia were 111/5 in the second dig, but in command. They declared at 267/8 on the fourth day, setting South Africa 430 to win.

429255-faf-du-plessis    Faf du Plessis turned hero for South Africa on Test debut, helping his team to salvage a remarkable draw at Adelaide (source – news.com.au)

   A big Aussie win looked likely as the visitors crashed to 45/4, ending the day at 77/4. Day 5 was a day of survival for the visitors – even the normally free-flowing AB de Villiers took 220 balls for his 33. But it was du Plessis who did the star turn, scoring an outstanding unbeaten 110 off 376 balls, batting for close to 8 hours. He put on 99 with Kallis for the 6th wicket to rescue his team, but Peter Siddle was bowling a lion-hearted spell. 233/5 became 240/8, and Australia were back in the game. However, du Plessis and Morkel saw off the remaining 4 overs successfully, achieving a great draw against the odds. Drained and exhausted, Australia fielded a weakened bowling attack for the final Test at Perth, and duly lost the game by 309 runs, and with it the series. It would not be far-fetched to say that it is because of du Plessis that South Africa are still the champions.

2) West Indies v Australia 1st Test, Bridgetown

  The West Indies, not for the first time, lost a match that they certainly should not have. The hosts declared at 449/9 in the first innings, with the evergreen Shivnarine Chanderpaul leading the way with 103*. Australia stuttered to 133/4 in reply before captain Michael Clarke scored 73. The West Indies were a good 120 runs ahead when the 9th wicket fell at 329, but a game-changing unbeaten last-wicket stand of 77 between Ryan Harris (who scored a career-best 68*) and Nathan Lyon enabled Clarke to declare at 406/9 in the hope of pressing for victory. His risk paid off, as his quicks tore through the Windies top-order, reducing them to 17/4 before they ended the fourth day at 71/5, leading by 114.

  There was no fight from the lower order on the last day, as West Indies folded for 148, setting Australia 192 to win in two sessions. Shane Watson stroked a quick 52 to lead Australia’s charge, and in spite of a wobble from 106/1 to 140/5, they crossed the finishing line in fading light, reaching 192/7 with Ben Hilfenhaus hitting the wining single. Australia went on to win the series 2-0, and West Indies were left to rue at what might have been.

3) Asia Cup Final – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Dhaka

  Bangladesh had upstaged their more fancied opponents India and Sri Lanka to reach their first Asia Cup Final, setting up the summit clash with Pakistan. Having squandered a chance to beat Pakistan in the league stage, Bangladesh were determined to create history in front of their fans, and it showed from the way they bowled. The pacemen struck early to have Pakistan at 19/2, which put the brakes on their scoring. The wickets continued to fall, and Bangladesh were on top when Pakistan were 133/6 in the 35th over. Sarfraz Ahmed’s 46* provided a late burst and a much-needed impetus to the total, which finally read a relatively better 236/9 in 50 overs.

   Tamim Iqbal started off positively, putting on 68 with Nazimuddin for the first wicket. But his loss for 60 meant Bangladesh were 81/3. Nasir Hossain and Shakib al-Hasan (68) chipped away closer to the target both were dismissed within nine runs, at which point the Tigers needed 58 in 38 balls. A few more wickets fell, and a few boundaries were scored. Bangladesh needed 25 off 3 overs, 19 off 2. Umar Gul went for ten in the penultimate over, which meant 9 were needed off the last over with 3 wickets left. The bowler Aizaz Cheema bowled tightly, conceding only two singles off the first three balls. 6 off 3. The fourth ball fetched 3 runs due to an overthrow. Off the fifth ball, Abdul Razzak was bowled, leaving Shahadat Hossain to score 4 off the last ball. But he could only manage one leg-bye, leaving Bangladesh at 234/8 and Pakistan winners by 2 runs (their second Asia Cup title). Many of the Bangladeshi players cried profusely in spite of a highly spirited showing, for they had come heartbreakingly close to a historic victory.

Bangladesh Pakistan Cricket    The Pakistani players celebrate after snatching a last-gasp two-run win in the Asia Cup final against Bangladesh (source – telegraph.co.uk) 

4) Pakistan v South Africa, Colombo, World Twenty20

  This match did not go to the last ball, but it scored on account of being a low-scoring see-saw battle in a crucial Super 8 game of the ICC World Twenty20. Pakistan’s spinners spun a web around South Africa, reducing them to 28/3 in the 7th over. The run-scoring remained sedate, and it was JP Duminy who livened up the innings, making 48 off 38 balls to ensure South Africa reach 133/6 in 20 overs. The Pakistan openers put on a quick 24 under 3 overs before their team started to collapse. 24/0 became 37/4, 63/4 became 76/7. Pakistan had lost 7/52 in 69 balls, and were staring at defeat against a rampaging South Africa. Umar Gul joined Umar Akmal at 76/7, with Pakistan needing 58 off 33. Gul changed the game around, beginning with two sixes in the 16th over and one more in the 17th. The equation now read 22 off 18, and then 15 off 12. Dale Steyn bowled a tight 19th over, giving away 6 runs and accounting for Gul (32 off 17). Requiring 9 off 5 balls, Akmal smashed Morne Morkel for six before a single gave Saeed Ajmal strike, 2 needed off 3. Ajmal duly scored a boundary as Pakistan scored a praiseworthy fightback win, reaching 136/8 with two balls to spare.

5) India Women v Pakistan Women, Galle, World Twenty20

  Pakistan Women snatched a 1-run victory in a low-scoring league match of the Women’s ICC World Twenty20. Only Sana Mir (26) and Nain Abidi (25) crossed 10 as Pakistan Women were restricted to 98/9 off their 20 overs, collapsing from 66/3 to 96/9. In reply, India Women were well placed at 50/2 in 11 overs when they began to lose their nerve. Pakistan Women slowly began to gain control, with the equation getting tougher after every over. It was down to 14 off the last over, to be bowled by Sana Mir. Even though Nagaranjan Niranjana hit a four off the first ball, 8 were needed off 3, and finally 4 off the last ball. Niranjana collected two, but was run out going for the third, leaving India Women at 97/8.

  With this post I conclude my little year-end review of the year gone by. Hope for an even better year of cricket and Test cricket in particular, as 2013 beckons.  

 A very Happy New Year to one and all, from The Cricket Cauldron.

                                                                                                                                                             

REVIEW – 2012 year-end recap (Thanks for the memories)

  2012 was the year of many retirements from Test cricket. As many as five illustrious cricketers called time on their Test careers, leaving millions of fans all over the world with fond memories of their many exploits at the highest level. Listed below are the five men who decided to quit the great game this year. Let us doff our hat to them for the wonderful memories!

Rahul Dravid (India, 1996-2012)

Tests – 164  Runs – 13288  Average – 52.31  Best – 270  100’s – 36  Catches – 210

91782156_Dravid_202118b    Dravid the ‘Wall’ scored 146 in the fourth Test at the Oval in 2011 – one of his best innings, which turned out to be his last hundred (source – thetimes.co.uk)

  In my opinion, the humble Dravid was the greatest of all modern-day batsmen. He was indeed the quintessential gentleman of the gentlemen’s game – it is very difficult to find such players nowadays. Not only was he India’s saviour on innumerable occasions, but he also was a wonderful human being – traits of which were often displayed on the cricket field. Christened ‘the Wall’ for his solid, reliable and flawlessly correct technique, Dravid retired from the game after a poor tour of Australia, where he was bowled six times in four Tests. The self-reflecting person that he is, Dravid decided that his time had come up and quit the game in March. But he was in the best of form as recently as August 2011, when he stood tall amid the ruins during India’s disastrous tour of England, finishing with three centuries even as his team got whitewashed.

  He is the third highest run-getter in Test history, and his amazing confidence levels also helped him pouch 210 catches as a fielder – a world record. Ever the team man, Dravid has opened the batting, captained the team and kept wickets for India, and almost always delivered the goods, justifying his ‘Mr.Dependable’ tag. He has scored plenty of great knocks in Tests, but arguably his 233 and 72* in the 2003-04 Adelaide Test tops the list. Committed and determined on the field, modest and dignified off it – there was and will be only one Rahul Dravid.

Ricky Ponting (Australia, 1995-2012)

Tests – 168  Runs – 13378  Average – 51.85  Best – 257  100’s – 41  Catches – 196

Ricky-Ponting-006     Ricky Ponting in his beloved Australian Baggy Green cap (source – guardian.co.uk)

  The tough-as-nails Ponting quit the game after playing 168 Tests – an Australian joint-record with Steve Waugh – indeed he chose not to play his final Test at his home ground in Hobart as he did not want to surpass Waugh’s match tally. The second highest run-getter of all time, Ponting was the captain of the Australian team from 2004 to 2010, with at least his first five years in charge being one of Australian cricket’s most golden periods, having inherited from Waugh (the previous captain) a team full of match-winners. He might not have been the best of captains (even though he has captained his side to victory 48 times, more than anyone else in history), but he was certainly one of the greatest batsmen Test cricket has seen. His trademark pull shot will probably be the most enduring image of his illustrious career.

  For all his great batting feats, the record that ‘Punter’ will be most proud of is the record of having played in most Test wins – 108 (he is the only player to take part in 100 Test wins). He was a man for the big occasion  as proved by the two centuries he made in his hundredth Test, and also by the stunning 140* he scored in the 2003 World Cup final. Ponting’s last series in November against South Africa was really a struggle – he could manage just 32 runs in 5 innings, more than enough for him to hang up his boots and wear his much loved Baggy Green cap for the last time.

Mark Boucher (South Africa, 1997-2012)

Tests – 147  Catches –  532  Stumpings – 23  Runs – 5515  Average – 30.30

  It was an unfortunate end to the career of the most prolific Test wicketkeeper of all time. Boucher was gearing up for the much-awaited Test series in England by playing a warm-up match, during which he was injured in the eye by a flying bail. The freak injury was serious enough for him to retire from the game, having served South Africa as their first-choice wicketkeeper for almost 15 years. One of the most under-rated players of modern times, Boucher effected a world record 555 Test dismissals (532 catches and 23 stumpings), 139 more than the next-best.

  He was also a very handy batsman in all forms of the game – he was the finisher when South Africa had chased down 434 in the astonishing Johannesburg ODI against Australia in 2005-06. His Test best of 125 came against Zimbabwe in 1999-00, which was at that time the highest score by a nightwatchman, while his ODI best of 147, also against Zimbabwe in 2006-07, came in a mere 68 balls. Boucher was an immensely competitive and tough cricketer and surely deserved a better way to retire from the game.

Mark Boucher     The ever-dependable Mark Boucher was forced to retire due to a freak injury in a warm-up game (source – guardian.co.uk)

VVS Laxman (India, 1996-2012)

Tests – 134  Runs – 8781  Average – 45.97  Best – 281  100’s – 17  Catches – 135

  This dependable, wristy batsman will be most remembered for the best innings ever played by an Indian in Test cricket – the epic 281 in the even more epic Kolkata Test of 2000-01 against the champion Australian team. This one-of-a-kind innings helped India win the Test after following on (only the third such instance in Tests), and the win gave them the belief to win the series as well, not to mention the confidence that it gave to the Indian team in coming years, especially while playing overseas. Laxman’s numbers might not be awe-inspiring, but his impact on the team’s fortunes was unquestionable.

  Many a times we have seen Laxman left on his own to battle it out, with just the tail remaining, most wonderfully shown when he battled injury to score 73* with the help of a runner to give India a 1-wicket win at Mohali in 2010-11.  He reserved his best for the Australians, who at times found it highly difficult to dislodge him. When on song, Laxman was a treat to watch – with his supple wrists and magical stroke-play. But in the overseas tours of England and Australia last season, he was a shadow of his former self, and a few months later in August this year, he retired from the game, resisting the temptation to play his last Test at Hyderabad, his home ground.

Andrew Strauss (England, 2004-2012)

Tests – 100  Runs – 7037  Average – 40.91  Best – 177  100’s – 21  Catches – 121

  Middlesex man Strauss played his last Test, also his 100th at his home ground Lord’s – the same venue where he had made a century on debut in 2004. Strauss was captain of England from 2008-09 till his last Test, proving to be a highly successful and respected leader. He led his team to two historic Ashes victories – at home in 2009, and away in 2010-11, the latter being England’s first win in Australia in 24 years. With his solid technique, he gave many sound starts to England but was found wanting at the start of this year both as batsman and captain. England, who had become champions last year under him, surrendered the mace to South Africa at home, compelling him to quit the game for good. His highest Test was a gritty eight-hour 177 against New Zealand at Napier in 2007-08, an innings that salvaged his career, and more importantly sealed a series win for his team.

REVIEW – 2012 year-end recap (Test cricket)

  Test cricket continued to enthrall fans all over the cricket world in 2012, with a new champion emerging when South Africa toppled England off their perch. 42 Tests were contested in the year, with 31 ending in results and 10 in draws.

Teams Overview

  South Africa were the only team to be undefeated in the year, and are rightly the world champions at present. Series wins in England and Australia affirmed the fact that the Proteas’ No.1 tag is here to stay. England overturned a seemingly below-par year at the end of the year by winning a historic series in India. Australia continued their progress under a dynamic captain, winning 7 and losing 1 out of 11 Tests. Pakistan played few matches, but enjoyed one of their best moments as they whitewashed then champions England in the UAE.

  India’s downward spiral continued, starting the year with a whitewash defeat in Australia and ending with an unexpected home defeat to England. Sri Lanka were patchy and were yet again found wanting overseas. The West Indies were impressive in spite of losses to Australia at home and in England, ending the year with four Test wins in row. New Zealand went quite a few steps backward as a Test team, losing three series before squaring the series in Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh played just one and two Tests respectively, not surprisingly losing all of them. 

Highlights and Moments

south-africa_630x472_ipad_1353923956   South Africa were crowned the new world champions, toppling England off their perch with a 2-0 win in England (source yahoo.com)

– South Africa became the world Test champions after they beat England 2-0 in a 3-Test series in England. The hosts, who were the previous champions, held on to the top spot for only a year. The Proteas then retained the mace with a 1-0 victory in Australia later in the year.

– As many as five illustrious Test cricketers retired in the year – Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman (India), Mark Boucher (South Africa), Ricky Ponting (Australia) and Andrew Strauss (England).

– Michael Clarke of Australia finished as the year’s highest run-getter (1595 runs in 11 Tests) while Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath was the year’s highest wicket-taker (60 wickets in 10 Tests). 

– Hashim Amla became South Africa’s first ever triple-centurion when he scored an unbeaten 311 against England at the Oval, a Test which South Africa won by an innings and 12 runs. The previous highest Test score by a South African was AB de Villiers’ 278 against Pakistan in 2010-11.

– Zimbabwe’s only Test in the year was a disaster – they suffered their worst ever Test loss, losing by an innings and 301 runs to New Zealand at Napier. They recorded their lowest ever Test total – 51 in the first innings, and were bowled out twice in a day (51 and 143) – only the third such instance in Test cricket.

– England won their first series in India in 28 years, when they beat the hosts 2-1 in the 4-Test series under Alastair Cook. They had last won a series in India in 1984-85, by the same margin. During the series, Cook became the first batsman to score centuries in each of his first five Tests as captain. 

– Pakistan recorded their first clean sweep in a Test series against England, when they took the 3-Test series between the two teams in the UAE by a margin of 3-0. In the third Test at Dubai, Pakistan’s first-innings total of 99 was the 5th lowest first innings total and the lowest in 104 years for a winning team.

– Alastair Cook also became England’s highest century maker in Test cricket, when he scored his 23rd hundred (190) against India at Kolkata. He also became the youngest batsman to reach 7000 Test runs during that innings.

Michael-Clarke-007     It was a magnificent year for Australian captain Michael Clarke, who logged 1595 runs at an average of 106.33 (source guardian.co.uk)

– 2012 was Michael Clarke’s year – the Australian captain amassed 1595 runs in 11 Tests at 106.33. He recorded the highest individual score of the year – 329* against India at Sydney, and became the first man to score four double-hundreds in a year in Test history. Clarke’s run tally of 2012 is the highest by an Australian in a calendar year, and the 4th highest of all time. His 329* became the highest Test score by a batsman batting at No.5. 

– South Africa’s captain Greame Smith became the captain to have led his team in most Test matches in the Lord’s Test against England, surpassing Australia’s Allan Border’s record of 93 Tests as captain. Smith now needs three more Tests to become the first man to captain his team in 100 Tests.

– Vernon Philander of South Africa became the joint-second fastest bowler to reach 50 wickets (7 Tests), and the fastest in 119 years when he dismissed Doug Bracewell of New Zealand at Wellington.

– Tino Best of the West Indies recorded the highest ever score by a No.11 batsman in Test history – he made 95 against England at Edgbaston, surpassing Zaheer Khan, who had scored 75 for India against Bangladesh in 2004-05.

tino_2244644b    Tino Best surprised all and sundry by recording the highest ever score by a number eleven in Tests – 95 against England (source telegraph.co.uk)

– Australia scored the second-highest number of runs on the first day of a Test when they finished Day 1 of the Adelaide Test against South Africa at 482/5, the highest being Australia’s 494/6, also against South Africa, at Sydney in 1910-11. 

– Bangladesh recorded their highest ever Test total when they scored 556 in the first innings against the West Indies at Dhaka, obliterating the 488 made against Zimbabwe at Chittagong in 2004-05. However, the total also became the joint-third highest total by a losing team in Test history. 

– Abul Hasan of Bangladesh recorded the highest score by a No.10 batsman on debut, when he made 113 against the West Indies at Khulna. He also became only the second man to score a debut ton from No.10, after Australia’s Reggie Duff, who made 104 against England at Melbourne in 1901-02. Hasan’s innings is also the second highest by any No.10 in Tests. 

11-22-2012_76554_l     Abul Hasan’s 113 against the West Indies at Khulna was the highest score by a debutant batting at No.10 (source thenews.com.pk)

– South Africa’s Imran Tahir recorded the worst ever bowling figures in a Test match, when he ended up with unenviable match-figures of 0-260 in 37 overs (0-180 and 0-80) in the Adelaide Test against Australia. The dubious record earlier belonged to Pakistan’s Khan Mohammed, who returned 0/259 against the West Indies in 1957-58.

– Two batsmen joined the list of batsmen with more than 10000 Test runs – Shivnarine Chanderpaul became the 10th batsman and the 2nd West Indian (after Brian Lara) while Kumar Sangakkara became the 11th batsman and the 2nd Sri Lankan (after Mahela Jayawardene) to reach the milestone.

– Sohag Gazi recorded the best figures in an innings and in a match by a Bangladeshi bowler on Test debut, when he took 6/74 in the second innings and 9/219 in the match against the West Indies in Dhaka.

– Khulna’s Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium became Test cricket’s 107th venue and Bangladesh’s 7th Test venue when it hosted the 2nd Test against the West Indies in November. 

– On November 25, as many as four Tests were in progress simultaneously – Bangladesh v West Indies at Khulna (5th day), Australia v South Africa at Adelaide (4th day), India v England at Mumbai (3rd day) and Sri Lanka v New Zealand at Colombo (1st day). This happened for the third time in history, after March 21, 1998 and March 11, 2001.

REVIEW – 2012 year-end recap (Limited-overs cricket)

  Compared to 145 One Day Internationals played in 2011 (mainly due to the World Cup), there were only 90 in 2012. But the year had its share of bilateral series in spite of the many voices pointing out the redundancy of 50-overs cricket. It was a good year for T20 internationals too, with 82 matches played including the fourth edition of the World Twenty20. Let us look at the highlights and moments in limited-overs cricket in 2012:-

One Day Internationals

– Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara (1184 runs) and Lasith Malinga (47 wickets) finished as the highest run-scorer and highest wicket-taker respectively in ODI’s in 2012.

– Chasing South Africa’s 301/8, Sri Lanka were bundled out for just 43 at Paarl in January. This was Sri Lanka’s lowest ever ODI total, and the joint-fourth lowest by any team. The 258-run defeat was Sri Lanka’s biggest, and the third worst by any team in ODI’s.

– Afghanistan played their first two ODI matches against full members – they lost to Pakistan by 7 wickets at Sharjah in February, while they lost to Australia by 66 runs at the same venue in August.

– The year recorded two tied ODI’s – India v Sri Lanka at Adelaide in February and Australia v West Indies at Kingstown in March. These were the 26th and 27th instances of tied ODI’s respectively.

21_west_indies_958283f    West Indies and Australia played out a thrilling tied ODI at Kingstown. The 5-match series was drawn 2-2 (source thehindu.com)

– England recorded their best winning streak in ODI’s, winning 10 consecutive completed ODI’s from February to July, which included 4-0 defeats of Pakistan in the UAE and of Australia at home. 

– Pakistan won their second Asia Cup title after 2000, after they defeated hosts Bangladesh by 2 runs in a thrilling final at Mirpur. India and Sri Lanka, the finalists of 2010, failed to make it to the final this year. The 2-run loss in the final of Bangladesh’s closest in ODI’s.

– Sohag Gazi took 4/29 on debut against the West Indies at Khulna in November, recording the best ODI figures on debut by a Bangladeshi. The earlier record was held by Rubel Hossain, who took 4/33 against Sri Lanka in 2008-09.

– There were two ODI hat-tricks recorded in the year – Daniel Christian of Australia against Sri Lanka at Melbourne in March, and Thissara Perera of Sri Lanka (incidentally, Christian’s first hat-trick wicket) against Pakistan at Colombo in June.

AD20120616624027-Sri_Lankan_cric      Sri Lanka’s Thissara Perera celebrates his hat-trick against Pakistan at Colombo (source thenatioanl.ae) 

– Bangladesh recorded their best ever ODI victory, when they trounced the West Indies by 160 runs at Khulna in December. Their earlier best was a 146-run win over Scotland in 2006-07.

Twenty20 Internationals

wiap_2362684b     The West Indies deservingly won the 2012 World Twenty20, defeating hosts Sri Lanka by 36 runs in the final (source telegraph.co.uk)

– With one game still to go in the year, Martin Guptill of New Zealand (472 runs) and Saeed Ajmal of Pakistan (25 wickets) are the leading run-scorer and wicket-taker of 2012 respectively.

– The fourth ICC World Twenty20 was held in Sri Lanka in September-October. The West Indies beat Sri Lanka by 36 runs in the final at Colombo to become the T20 champions. Marlon Samuels’ 78 and Ajantha Mendis’ 4/12 in that match were both new records for a World Twenty20 final. Shane Watson of Australia was named Player of the Tournament.

– The year saw two primary individual records broken in the World T20 – Brendon McCullum of New Zealand scored the highest ever individual score in a T20I, making 123 against Bangladesh at Pallekele; while Ajantha Mendis took 6/8 against Zimbabwe at Hambantota to record the best ever bowling figures in a T20I, breaking his won record. McCullum also became the first player to score two T20I hundreds, and his innings constituted 64.39% of his team total – a new record.

– South Africa’s Richard Levi scored the fastest T20I hundred  off just 45 balls, en route to an unbeaten 117 off 51 balls against New Zealand at Hamilton in February  His innings was also the joint-highest individual score in T20I’S until Brendon McCullum broke the record with his 123 (see above). Levi’s 13 sixes in that innings became a new record for the most sixes by a player in a T20I innings.

1200_levi     Richard Levi smashed the fastest century in a T20 international, off just 45 balls against New Zealand (source 3news.co.nz)

– Pakistan’s total of 74 against Australia at Dubai in September was the joint-lowest team total by a full member nation in a T20I. 

– South Africa became the first team to record five 200+ totals in T20I’s when they scored 219/4 against India at Johannesburg in March. 

– Ireland’s ten-wicket win over Kenya at Dubai in March was achieved with 76 balls to spare – the biggest ever victory in T20I’s in terms of number of balls remaining.

– India scored their biggest T20I win when they defeated England by 90 runs at Colombo in September. They had until then never recorded a win by a margin of more than 50 runs.

– Elias Sunny of Bangladesh recorded the best ever bowling figures by a debutant in T20I’S when he took 5/13 on debut against Ireland at Belfast in June, breaking Ajantha Mendis’ record of 4/15 against Zimbabwe in 2008-09. 

– Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson added 137 for the third wicket for New Zealand against Zimbabwe at Auckland in February – a new record for the highest 3rd wicket partnership in T20I’s.

– There were three tied T20I’s in the year – Australia v Pakistan at Dubai (super over won by Pakistan), Sri Lanka v New Zealand at Pallekele (super over won by Sri Lanka) and New Zealand v West Indies at Pallekele (super over won by West Indies). 

REVIEW – 2012 year-end recap (Women’s cricket)

  In 2012, lamentably not a single Women’s Test was played. However there were the usual One Day Internationals and Twenty20 internationals  which ensured that the women’s game is kept alive throughout the year. Let us look at the highlights and moments of the women’s game in 2012:-

– Australia Women recorded the highest successful run chase in women’s ODI’s when they chased New Zealand Women’s 288/6 by scoring 289/6 in 46.4 overs at Sydney in December. The match aggregate of 577 runs also was a new record, obliterating the 570 in a game between the same teams at Hamilton in 2008-09.

– Bangladesh Women recorded their lowest ever ODI total, when they were bowled out for 60 against South Africa Women at Dhaka in September, a match they lost by 7 wickets.

– Nain Abidi beacme the first woman to score an ODI century for Pakistan, when she scored an unbeaten 101 in 129 balls against Ireland Women at Dublin in August.

– The 58 run partnership between Amita Sharma and Gouher Sultana for India Women against England Women at Taunton in July was the highest tenth wicket partnership in a women’s ODI. 

– Australia Women won the traditional Rose Bowl, defeating New Zealand Women 3-1 in a 4-match ODI series, stretching their undefeated run in the tournament to 14 seasons in a row. 

– Australia Women won their second successive World T20 title after defeating England Women in the final of the 2012 edition by 4 runs at Colombo (RPS). 

262612-australian-women-cricket    Australia Women celebrate after winning the World T20 for the second time in a row, beating England Women in the final (source – heraldsun.com.au)

– India Women won the inaugural Women’s T20 Asia cup at Guangzhou,  beating Pakistan Women by 18 runs in the final of the 

– Pakistan Women’s 1-run win against India Women in a T20 at Galle in October was the fourth instance of such a result in women’s T20 internationals. Needing just 99 to win, India Women were restricted to 97/8.

– Sri Lanka Women recorded the lowest ever total in a women’s T20 international when they were bowled out for 57 in reply to Bangladesh Women’s 62 (the joint-third lowest total ever) at Guangzhou in October. 

– The aggregate of 92 in a World T20 match between Sri Lanka Women and West Indies Women was a new international record – Sri Lanka Women won the rain-curtailed game by 5 runs on the D/L method.

– England Women won a record 14 consecutive T20 internationals, a streak which lasted from October 2011 to September 2012.

– Sarah Taylor of England Women accumulated 616 runs in T20 internationals in 2012, which is a record for the most runs scored by a woman in T20 internationals in a single calendar year.

– Pakistan Women’s Asmavia Iqbal became the first woman to take an international T20 hat-trick, against England Women at Loughborough in September. In October, India Women’s Ekta Bisht became the second woman to record a hat-trick, against Sri Lanka Women at Colombo.

– West Indies Women’s Shemaine Campbelle became the youngest woman to captain a team in T20 internationals against England Women at Arundel in September, at 19 years and 338 days. She broke the record of her own countrywoman Stefanie Taylor, who was 20 years and 261 days when she led against India Women at Basseterre in February.

Isa-Guha   England Women’s fast bowler Isa Guha called time on a highly successful ten-year international career (source topnews.in)

– England Women’s fast bowler Isa Guha retired from international cricket at the age of 27 in March. She played 8 Tests (29 wickets), 83 ODI’s (101 wickets) and 22 T20I’s (18 wickets) since her debut in 2001.  She is one of only two England Women bowlers to have taken more than 100 ODI wickets. Guha’s most memorable performance came in the Bowral Test in 2007-08 when she took a match-winning 9 for 100 to help England retain the Ashes. She was part of the England Women squad that won the World Cup and the World T20 in 2009.

Specials – Best of Boxing Day Tests

  Yet another Boxing Day is upon us, and yet another traditional Boxing Day Test match is underway at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.

  An MCG Test which included 26th December as one of the days was first played in the 1950-51 Ashes, but it was only in 1980 that it became an annual fixture. Since then, except for 1989, the MCG has hosted the Boxing Day Test every season, with the 26th mostly being the opening day. Let us look at five classic Boxing Day Tests from the days gone by, in chronological order:-

Australia v West Indies, 1981-82

   This was the first Test of the 1981-82 Frank Worrell Trophy. Michael Holding and Andy Roberts rattled the Australians early, reducing them to 8/3 and 26/4. Kim Hughes, who came in at number five then proceeded to play one of the finest Test innings.

  In a gutsy display, Hughes remained unbeaten on 100 out of a total of 198. Holding with 5/45 was the best of the bowlers. Dennis Lillee then ripped through the Windies top order, leaving them in tatters at 10/4 at stumps on day one. The following day Lillee became the highest wicket-taker in Tests when he dismissed Larry Gomes, breaking Lance Gibbs’ record of 309.

093621-kim-hughes-1981-test

      Kim Hughes on his way to an unbeaten 100 in the 1981-82 Boxing Day Test against the West Indies – one of the great Test innings played (source – perthnow.com.au)

  Gomes’ 55 led the visitors’ fightback, and ensured that they got to 201. Lillee was excellent, bagging 7/83. In the second innings, Bruce Laird (64) and Allan Border (66) were the top-scorers in a total of 222, Holding taking 6/62 to have 11/107 in the game.

  Thus the West Indies required a tricky 220 runs to win. By the end of day four they were 154/9, collapsing from 80/3 after having recovered from 4/2, and were duly bowled out for 161 early on the final day, giving Australia victory by 58 runs.

Australia v England, 1982-83

  This was the fourth Test of the Ashes and Australia were already 2-0 up. In what was one of the most exciting Tests ever played, the first three days each saw a completed team innings. On day one, England made 284, mainly due to a 161-run fourth-wicket stand between Chris Tavare (89) and Allan Lamb (83).

  Rodney Hogg and Bruce Yardley took four wickets each. On day two, Australia replied with 287, only just taking the lead. Kim Hughes top-scored with 66 while David Hookes and Rodney Marsh both scored 53 to help Australia recover from 89/4.

  In their second innings on the third day, England were reduced to 45/3 before Greame Fowler (65) shared in an 83-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Lamb. Some crucial lower-order runs enabled them to end at 294 after being 160/6.

  This left Australia with two days to chase down 292. They started off poorly, and were at a wobbly 71/3 before Hughes and Hookes put on 100 for the fourth wicket. But from thereon, the hosts collapsed and were staring at defeat at 218/9, with seamer Norman Cowans (6/77, playing his fourth Test) doing the bulk of the damage.

  Allan Border (62*) was still there though, and along with last man Jeff Thomson led his team to 255/9 with a day left. The duo did everything right until just four runs were needed, when Thomson was caught at first slip by Geoff Miller off Ian Botham to script a three-run win for England and break the hearts of the optimistic crowd. The final Test was drawn and Australia regained the Ashes.

Australia v New Zealand, 1987-88

  Australia were leading the three-Test series 1-0 and this was the final Test. John Wright (99) and Martin Crowe (82) helped New Zealand reach 317 in the first innings (Craig McDermott 5/97). Australia slumped to 78/4 in reply before Peter Sleep became an unlikely saviour, scoring a career-best 90 from number seven.

  Sleep and Tony Dodemaide (50) put on 80 for the eighth wicket as Australia made 357, the great Richard Hadlee picking 5/109. Dodemaide starred with the ball in the second dig, taking 6/58 to help restrict the Kiwis to 286, Crowe shining again with 79.

  Australia needed 247 in a day, while New Zealand had to take ten wickets to level the series. The wickets came at regular intervals, as only David Boon (54) managed a half-century. Hadlee kept up the pressure with crucial breakthroughs, as Australia slid from a safe score of 209/5 to a dire 227/9.

  Amid great tension, the last pair of McDermott and Mike Whitney held out, batting the last 4.5 overs to salvage a draw, as Australia ended at 230/9 to win the series. Hadlee took 5/67, and took ten wickets in a match for a record eighth time.

Australia v England, 1998-99

DeanHeadley1998_2530552Dean Headley enjoyed the best moment of his career, bowling England to a 12-run win in the 1998-99 Boxing Day Test (source – skysports.com)

  Australia, 2-0 up, were marching towards yet another Ashes win when England scripted a rare but much-needed win in the Boxing Day Test, the fourth of the series. Alec Stewart’s 107 and his 119-run fifth-wicket stand with Mark Ramprakash (63) was the highlight of England’s 270 – they lost their last 7 for 70.

  Steve Waugh then made an unbeaten 122 in reply, adding 88 for the ninth wicket with Stuart MacGill (43) to help Australia reach 340 from 252/8 (Darren Gough 5/96). England managed 244 in the second innings, courtesy half-centuries from Stewart, Nasser Hussain and Greame Hick (who top-scored with an attacking 60),

  Australia were thus left with ample time to get the required 175 runs and wrap up the Ashes again. The openers were dismissed early, but at 103/2 with the scoring rate almost four an over, Australia were on course. Dean Headley, grandson of the great West Indies batsman George Headley, then ripped through the middle order.

  From 130/3, the hosts collapsed to 162 all out, losing the last three wickets for just one run – four out of the last five wickets being ducks. Headley took a career-best 6/60, and enjoyed the best moment of his brief 15-Test career. As was expected, Australia won the final Test to win the series 3-1.

Australia v South Africa, 2008-09

Jean-Paul-Duminy-6417066Jean-Paul Duminy scored a magnificent 166 to script a memorable win for South Africa in the 2008-09 Boxing Day Test (source – foxsports.com.au)

  This was one of South Africa’s most memorable wins, made more special as it ensured a first-ever series win for them in Australia. After winning the first Test at Perth by chasing 414, South Africa’s confidence was high coming into this game.

  Batting first, Australia made 394, riding on Ricky Ponting’s 101 and Michael Clarke’s unbeaten 88. Speedster Dale Steyn took 5/87. In reply, South Africa were reduced to 184/7 – with only captain Greame Smith showing resistance with 62 – and later 251/8, when Steyn joined Jean-Paul Duminy for an amazing partnership.

  Playing only his second Test, Duminy cracked 166 while Steyn scored 76, as the duo pulverised Australia with a 180-run ninth-wicket stand. South Africa finally scored 459. The deficit for Australia was not too big, but the damage had been done. The South African pacers reduced Australia to 49/3 on the fourth morning, before Ponting’s 99 allowed them to reach 247.

  Steyn, who was later named Man of the Match, continued his dream match to take 5/67, and 10/154 in the Test. Needing just 183, Smith (75) and Neil McKenzie (59*), ensured a convincing nine-wicket victory on the fifth day. This was Australia’s first home series defeat since 1992-93.

SPECIALS – Best of India-Pakistan ODIs

  Starting today, arch-rivals India and Pakistan will contest a bilateral series after 5 years. It will be a short series, consisting of only two T20’s and 3 ODIs, but significant nonetheless, as matches between the two nations have been a rarity in recent times – they have played only 4 one-day matches against each other in the last 4 years. In this Specials edition, we look at the five most exciting India-Pakistan one-day matches played, in chronological order:-

1) Rothmans Four-Nation Cup Semifinal, Sharjah 1984-85

  This low-scoring match was played when Sharjah was just starting to become a regular ODI venue. Imran Khan was at his deadliest, as he took 6/14 to help bundle India out for just 125 in 42.4 overs. Only Mohammed Azharuddin (47) and captain Kapil Dev (30) crossed 11, the duo adding 46 for the 6th wicket after India were reeling at 34/5 (Imran taking all). In reply, Pakistan had motored along to 35/1 before suddenly disaster struck – all the bowlers kept up the pressure by taking regular wickets, as Pakistan slumped to 41/5, including Javed Miandad and Imran for ducks. Pakistan were still in the hunt at 85/6 with Rameez Raja batting, but his dismissal for 29 signalled the end for his team, as they were rolled over for 87 in the 33rd over. Imran was named Man of the Match, but his teammates let him down hugely. India won the tournament, beating Australia in the final. 

2) Austral-Asia Cup Final, Sharjah 1985-86

  The two teams were back at Sharjah the next season  this time contesting the Austral-Asia Cup final. After electing to field, Pakistan bore the brunt of the Indian top order. Kris Srikkanth (75) and Sunil Gavaskar (92) shared a 117-run opening stand, before Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar (50) added another 99 for the 2nd wicket. Vengsarkar’s fall brought about a glut of wickets, as Pakistan fought back to restrict India to 245/7, Wasim Akram taking 3/42.

  Pakistan’s reply was scratchy, but Javed Miandad batted on undeterred. He shared a 71 run 5th wicket stand with Salim Malik to rescue Pakistan from 110/4. But India continued to be in command, and the last over, to be bowled by Chetan Sharma, began at 235/7. Two more wickets fell, and finally four runs were needed off the final ball. Sharma bowled a full toss, and Miandad coolly dispatched it for a six to give his team the title and leaving the Indians shell-shocked. Even today, memories of this famous match fills Pakistanis with pride and Indians with regret. 

93267     Javed Miandad (left) celebrates Pakistan’s win after hitting the last ball for six in the Austral-Asia Cup final in 185-86 (source – espncricinfo.com)

3) Independence Cup Final, Dhaka 1997-98

  This was the final of a tri-nation tournament (including Bangladesh) to commemorate the home nation’s silver jubilee of independence. The match was a 48-over affair due to bad light. Pakistan, after being put in by India, rode on an attacking 230 run stand for the 3rd wicket between Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed, who cracked 140 and 117 respectively. Pakistan amassed 314/5 and were favourites to win the trophy at the interval.

  But India began their reply at a blistering pace, with openers Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar putting on 71 in just 8.2 overs before the latter was out for a quick 41. Robin Singh was promoted to No.3, and the move worked wonders – he scored 82 and added 179 for the 2nd wicket with Ganguly. India then lost 6 for 56, including Ganguly for 124, and began the last over (bowled by Saqlain Mushtaq) at 306/7, needing 9 for a record win. It boiled down to 3 off 2 balls, when Hrishikesh Kanitkar managed to sneak a boundary to ensure India’s victory – it was the highest successful run-chase in ODI’s at that time.

40292D24B8D38EACDAD2754546DEA   Sourav Ganguly in full flow during his match-winning 124 in the 1997-98 Independence Cup final (source – msn.com)

4) India in Pakistan 1st ODI, Karachi 2003-04

  This was the first match of a historic bilateral series – cricketing ties had resumed between the countries for the first time since 1999. The match was one of the most awaited in recent times, and it lived up to the expectations. Pakistan elected to field, and began to rue the decision as India were placed at a mind-boggling 139/1 in 14 overs, thanks to Virender Sehwag’s assault and the Pakistan bowlers’ tendency to give away extras. Sehwag creamed 79 off 57 balls. The run rate slowed a bit, but Rahul Dravid (99) ensured that the momentum did not slip away, putting on 118 for the 5th wicket with Mohammed Kaif. India ended at a huge score of 349/7.

  Pakistan lost its openers early to be 34/2, but the seasoned pros Mohammed Yousuf (then Yousuf Youhana) (73) and captain Inzamam ul-Haq shared a 135 run stand for the 3rd wicket. Inzamam kept up with the scoring rate, putting on 109 for the 4th wicket with Younis Khan. At 278/3 in 42 overs, Pakistan were in with a serious chance of a great win. The target was calmly whittled down, and 9 were needed of the last over. Ashish Nehra bowled beautifully under pressure, and with 6 needed off the last ball, Moin Khan was caught while going for the big one, giving India a thrilling 5 run victory. Inzamam was named Man of the Match for his superb 122 off 102 balls.

5) Asia Cup League Stage, Dambulla 2010

  Another thrilling match, another Indian win. Pakistan had to win this match to qualify for the final. Salman Butt’s 74 anchored Pakistan’s innings, which was punctuated by regular wickets by the Indians. They finally were bowled out for a competitive 267 in 49.3 overs after an impetus through Kamran Akmal’s rapid 51. Gautam Gambhir led the way for India in the chase, until he was third out for 83 with the score at 180 in the 36th over. After his dismissal, the asking rate began to rise, and India needed 49 off the last 5 overs with 5 wickets left. Suresh Raina took up the challenge, and the equation changed to 16 off the last two overs, and then 7 off the last. Raina was run out off the second ball of the last over for a quick 34, and India needed 6 off 4. With 3 needed off 2, Harbhajan Singh went for the glory shot, dispatching the bowler Mohammed Amir for six to ensure a 3-wicket win for India. India went on to win the tournament  beating hosts Sri Lanka in the final.