2016 – it was quite a year of cricket with a total of 246 games played having international status – the fourth most for in a year and four short of that played in 2015.
So of course, in a season packed with a lot of action in the middle, we pick our top five moments – in reverse order of preference.
(5) Bangladesh beating England at Mirpur:
The Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur has had always been the hunting ground for the Bangladesh cricket team – with them beating strong rivals like Pakistan, India and South Africa in 2015. However for a nation that became a permanent ICC member in 2000, their cherished moment came when for the first time when they beat a strong side, England, in the longest format.
One could argue the Tigers were quite close to winning the first Test at Chittagong – where they lost the close-fought encounter by 22 runs, and no matter the hosts came back strongly to level the series with a thrashing 108-run victory over the Alastair Cook and company in what was the 95th Test of Bangladesh cricket history. The find of the series was teenaged tweaker – Mehedi Hasan Miraz – who bagged 12 wickets in the second match of his career after bagging six in his debut innings.
(4) Return of Mohammad Amir:
2016 also witnessed the return of the once teenage Pakistan’s pace sensation Mohammad Amir to international cricket – having completely served a five-year ban owing to match-fixing. He made his comeback at Auckland in a T20 game. After that he was part and parcel of the national side and till date has had been quite successful in his second stint – having picked up 53 wickets in all format.
(3) Brendon McCullum finishing it off in style:
Now that he is retired, the former New Zealand captain was known as one of the most attacking batsmen of his generation. And truly, he did not shy away from playing his characterized cricket even in his emotional farewell Test. He took to his offensive best against an Australian attack at Christchurch and scored the fastest-ever Test hundred in just 54 balls! Big Mac’s 79-ball 145 was studded with 21 fours and 6 maximums. Though unable to save the game, nevertheless McCullum took leave of his fans by treating them to a farewell Baz-show.
(2) King Kohli establishing his empire:
2016 was really a great year for India and its Test captain Virat Kohli. Starting the year with a poor ODI series loss, India became the first side to whitewash the Aussies at their den in 140 years – the incredible moment coming in a 3-match T20 series.
After Asia Cup win and a last four finish at the World T20 at home, it was time for some Test action in the Caribbean shores and both the captain and his team did not disappoint. Further, India were merciless against their guests back home – with both New Zealand and England being crushed under the blade. Kohli became the fifth batsman to score three or more double centuries in a calendar year. Under his captaincy, the top-ranked side won 9 of the 12 matches in 2016.
(1) West Indies triumph at the World T20:
Their participation in the ICC event was under clouds with the team and WICB at loggerheads. They were a team without a sponsor and the players themselves paid for their kits. Led by the rebel captain Darren Sammy – the same man who made them believe they can in Sri Lanka 2012 – the West Indies had a fantastic outing in the bi-annual gala. Apart from losing to Afghanistan in a group match, Sammy’s men eliminated the favourites and hosts India from the tournament in the semis. And then came the T20I moment of the year in a thrilling final. Needing an indomitable 19 off the last over, Carlos Brathwaite ensured another English loss in finals when he smacked Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes. And soon, the 28-year old was handed the captaincy for the shortest format.
Photo by NAPARAZZI