The year 2016 was a good one for cricket. From the T20 World Cup, to India's dominance on the Test circuit, to another scintillating edition of the Indian Premier League, the year was a thrill-a-minute ride full of shock victories, retirements, broken records, controversies and much more. Here are ten of the top cricketing moments of the year:
David Miller brings back memories of Wanderers '06
The South Africans were leading their ODI series against Australia 2-0, after scintillating centuries from Quinton de Kock and newly-appointed captain Faf du Plessis. A team that had largely struggled for most part of the year had just begun its comeback, after a 1-0 Test series win over New Zealand. Clinching the ODI series against Australia would further boost their morale in their quest to relive the glory of the past.
Except that David Warner and Steve Smith cracked centuries in the third ODI to guide Australia to put up a daunting target of 372 — not impossible by any means, especially after the influence of T20 on the modern-day game. However, loss of wickets at regular intervals, with the scorecard reading 217/5 at one stage, made victory look like a distant dream for the Proteas.
Enter David Miller. A limited-overs talent considered by many as somewhat inconsistent, not doing justice to the hype around him. His unbeaten 79-ball 118, laced with 10 fours and six sixes, going against the run of play and taking on the opposition attack head-on, not only helped the Proteas clinch the series 3-0, but also brought back memories of the famous 438-game. – Amit Banerjee
Underdogs Afghanistan win a match, not just hearts
In a year filled with sporting upsets, one of the best feel-good triumph-of-the-underdog stories came in the 2016 ICC World T20 in India. Associates Afghanistan created history on 27 March by defeating eventual champions West Indies by six runs in their Super 10 encounter.
Afghanistan, who had come through a qualifying tournament in Ireland, had put up a spirited performance in the tournament, but hadn’t been able to register a win in their opening three matches of the group stage – against heavyweights England, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Up against the mighty Caribbean team, they set a target of 124 thanks to a valiant unbeaten 48 off 40 balls by Najibullah Zadran. While bowling, the Afghans kept their calm to restrict the West Indians to 117 for eight and script a memorable victory.
While this match was inconsequential for group-toppers West Indies, what really made it memorable was the celebration that followed. The Afghanistan players performed the “Champion” jig on field after their win – an emotional sight that warmed everyone’s hearts. Even Chris Gayle, who had been rested for this clash, joined in and posed with the winning team for photographs. Afghanistan proved that they weren’t just the “sentimental favourites” and pulled off a stunning victory to end their tournament on a high. – Nikhila Makker
Bangladesh implodes, India explodes
India might not have won the 2016 ICC World T20, but the hosts had plenty of fond memories to take away from the competition, which they exited at the semifinal stage. A loss to New Zealand in the opening game meant that the hosts were on slippery ground for the rest of the group stage. Against Bangladesh, India seemed to be on the verge of exiting the competition when a spirited Bangladesh side had them on the mat.
It seemed that all was over for India, when Mushfiqur Rahim hit a boundary in the last over that left Bangladesh needing just two runs off three balls. But Bangladesh suffered an absolute brain freeze and managed to lose the game from there.
First, Rahim holed out to Shikhar Dhawan at mid-wicket, before Mahmadullah hit a full-toss straight to Ravindra Jadeja in the deep. With two needed from one delivery, the cat was among the pigeons. Hardik Pandya's slow bouncer was missed by the Bangladesh batsman and it was down to a race between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the non-striker, which the former won, handing his side the game and one foot in the semifinals.
The win was especially cherished by the Indian fans and social media soon exploded, trolling Bangladesh for their capitulation. It was a win that's certain to be revisited over the years, and one that's a must for in the list of top cricketing moments of 2016. – Kaushal Shukla
Carlos Brathwaite's four sixes on the trot in WorldT20 final
'Carlos Brathwaaaite, Caarlos Brathwaite. Remember the name!', exclaimed Ian Bishop on commentary as the West Indian all-rounder slammed his fourth consecutive six in the last over of the World T20 final. Brathwaite's blitzkrieg earned West Indies the title, setting off manic celebrations at the iconic Eden Gardens, even as England bowler Ben Stokes, who ran into the carnage, was almost brought to tears.
Chasing a moderate 156 for victory, West Indies quicky ran into trouble after losing the deadly Chris Gayle, and his opening partner Johnson Charles, with just five on the board. They kept on losing wickets at vital moments and, when Darren Sammy went, they still had 49 to win, in less than five overs with four wickets in hand.
Nineteen runs were required off the last over, and nobody gave West Indies a chance. And then the unthinkable happened. A heave over square leg, one over long on, another over long off and still another over cow corner scripted one of the most breathtaking victories in the history of the game. The stage, the event, and the level of competition made it all the more special. Certainly, nobody is going to forget Carlos Brathwaite's name in a hurry. – Debdutta Bhattacharjee
McCullum's farewell ton
Retirements in cricket are mostly humbling if not downright benign. The crowd, the opposition, the umpires and the viewers watching at home nod, applaud and recognise the contributions of a player made throughout his career and not on that particular day. But when it comes to legends like Brendon McCullum, going out with a bang is par for course.
In his 101st and final Test, McCullum not scored a blaze flash century to sign off his blistering career, he even managed to break the record for the fastest Test century (54 balls). Playing against Australia, the 34-year-old put on the majestic display on the very first day of the second Test in February.
His swansong performance is one of the best and most memorable farewells from cricket, and is certainly worthy of featuring on this list of top cricket moments of 2016. – Nitish Rampal
Mohammad Amir against India
The ultimate sporting tale of crime, punishment, justice and redemption, all coming together in an incredible four-over spell that left the world breathless.
Mohammad Amir was the quintessential villain of this piece. Sold his soul, sold his country; he had just made his return from a five-year ban that had threatened to derail his career. He was the rare cricketer hated by both sets of fans in the India-Pakistan clash, in the Asia Cup at Dhaka. Up against him was the old enemy, facing a target so modest that it was almost pointless to even try.
But Amir had swing, he had pace...he had the world watching. He should have had a wicket off the first ball. He did get one on the very next. And another, two balls later. And a third, in the next over. India were tottering at eight for three and it was clear that the prodigy had made a comeback.
Those obsessed with statistics and results will say that things didn't go Pakistan's way, but that is like saying India and Pakistan played a cricket match that day. The reason it ultimately became so much more is down to Amir's virtuoso performance. – Aashray Hariharan
Virat Kohli's masterclass against Australia in World T20
A do-or-die match, a tricky chase and a magisterial innings. It was just another day in the life of Virat Kohli, as he guided India into the semifinals of the World T20, with a splendid knock of 81 against Australia. There are good innings, there are great innings and then there are innings which stay with you forever. Kohli's masterclass in Mohali brought back memories of Sachin Tendulkar’s similar masterpieces.
Australia had piled a decent 160 on the board. In reply, India lost Shikhar Dhawan early. In walked Kohli, but he witnessed Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh walk back to the hut in quick succession. Captain MS Dhoni joined Kohli in the middle and suddenly it was like the inning received a shot of adrenaline. Ones got converted into twos and twos into threes, as the two batsmen hared down the wicket at blistering pace.
That set the tone for Kohli and he launched into the Aussies with a slew of thunderous drives, lovely lofts and skillful dabs to power India past the finish line with five balls to spare. He scored 82 off 51 balls laced with nine fours and two sixes in what was a breathtaking innings – one which had power, grace, placement, thinking, precision, control, dedication and determination. It was a day when he brought back glorious memories of the past. – Jigar Mehta
The once mighty Australian cricket team, 'the invincibles', with one of the best batting and bowling line ups in the history of international cricket, saw its fortunes decline steeply this year. Losing the Test series to Sri Lanka for the first time – Lankans had previously beaten the Kangaroos only once – and going down 2-0 to the rising powerhouse South Africa signified the end of an era.
The Australian selectors, in an attempt to get back to winning ways, chose to drop six players after the second Test match in their series against South Africa. But their bid to revive the team's dipping fortunes seemed to yield no dividend as the near-scare against Pakistan at Brisbane reestablished the belief that the current bunch of players are nothing but the pale shadows of a glorious past.
The re-calibration of the entire team is a significant moment this year, as for the first time, since the early 1980s, when established players like Greg Chappell retired and the onus of leading a nascent side fell upon an inexperienced Kim Hughes, the team faces the tough task of reviving its former glory. – Aprameya Rao
Pakistan win at Lord's, centurion Misbah-ul-Haq does press-ups
Pakistan beat England by 75 runs in the first Test of their four-match Test series. The fact that the win was at Lord's and that it had some magnificent individual performances from the visiting side made it even sweeter. There were a lot of things that could've gone wrong – this was Pakistan's first Test in England after the spot-fixing scandal, one of the protagonists, Mohammad Amir, was making his return, there were a lot of questions about players’ form and experience.
But all of that faded when captain Misbah-ul-Haq, at the age of 42, got his name on the Lord’s honour board on his debut at the iconic ground. And the solid ton was further overshadowed by his celebration – as soon as he had completed his 10th Test century, Misbah dropped to the ground and did a series of press-ups.
"I promised the army guys I would do the push-ups if I got a century," he later said. His unique celebration was repeated by the entire team when they won the see-saw Test. The team had gone to an army boot camp before the tour to improve their fitness, and after the win, a routine of press-ups was followed by a military-style salute as a tribute.
The four-match series was drawn 2-2, but it was a moment of celebration for Pakistan, who went on to briefly become the number one Test team in the world. It was this win and gesture that lead to Misbah winning the ICC Spirit of Cricket award and hence was one of the most striking cricket moments of 2016. – Zenia Dcunha
Karun Nair triple century
— BCCI (@BCCI) December 19, 2016
Coming into his third Test innings, Karun Nair was undoubtedly hoping to make a case for his continued selection. Having been called up to the starting XI due to injuries to several first team players, Karun’s performances had paled in comparison to those of fellow rookie Jayant Yadav. However, Karun stepped up in a big way for India, forging partnerships with KL Rahul, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the process of scoring an unbeaten 303.
Scoring a triple century as one’s maiden hundred is an incredible achievement, especially considering Karun is only the second Indian batsman to score a triple ton. His runs also acted as a platform for India’s eventual victory in the Test, sealing the series 4-0. Thus, Karun's heroics capped off a good year for Indian Cricket, and stands out as one of the best moments of the year. – Derrek Chundelikkatt
Updated Date: Dec 27, 2016 11:43:06 IST