Pakistan’s salvation, Sri Lanka’s downfall highlight an eventful 2017

first_imgThis year has been an eventful one in the world of cricket for various reasons.From Pakistan’s extraordinary effort to beat a red-hot India in the Champions Trophy final to Sri Lanka’s torrid run in limited-overs cricket, 2017 has been a year to remember.Talking of runs, how can one not talk about India’s dominating performance in 2017? India made the most of their home season, winning 14 series this year across the formats.Not only these three, the game also saw new additions. To spice up things, the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided to introduce four-day Test cricket and also grant Test status to two more teams, Afghanistan and Ireland. And recently, in Sharjah, a new format of the game kicked-off in the form of T-10 cricket.ALSO WATCHWhile these were the good things, a year without controversy isn’t really possible. Is it?England’s ace all-rounder Ben Stokes along with Alex Hales were reportedly involved in a heated incident at a Bristol bar while Jonny Bairstow was also fined by the ECB for staying out late ahead of a match day. While Hales was let off and was available for selection just recently, Stokes is still out of international cricket. He, however, has been added to England’s limited-overs squad against the Aussies.Not only that, Cricket Australia too had a tough time dealing with its players with the country’s game representatives declaring that they won’t be playing for Australia until and unless their demands are met and a better contract offer was on the table. But that got sorted just in time for tours and they went ahead.advertisementSo here’s a look at all the highlights of the year 2017.PAKISTAN’S CHAMPIONS TROPHY TRIUMPHLed by Sarfraz Ahmed, the ‘noisy neighbours’ of Indian cricket, silenced critics by hammering the defending champions by 180 runs at the Oval.Riding on Fakhar Zaman’s 114, Pakistan posted a stiff total of 338/4 from their 50 overs. In reply, the Indian openers — Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma — who were in tremendous form throughout the series, failed to fire. Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali bowled with pace and accuracy and Virat Kohli couldn’t help the cause as well. India were reduced to 5/54 from 13.3 overs and all hopes were lost. Hardik Pandya did try to wage a lone war but was run-out for a 46-ball 76 and the defending champions finally succumbed to defeat.Prior to the final, India had won all their three games, beating South Africa and Pakistan as well. They only lost to Sri Lanka in the group stages and defeated Bangladesh in the semis to make it to the final. Pakistan, on the other hand, lost to India in the group stages and defeated Sri Lanka and South Africa. The eventual winners eased past hosts England by eight wickets in the semis to reach the final.Nobody gave them a chance in the final. But riding on inspiring performances from Fakhar and the pacers, Pakistan lifted their first-ever Champions Trophy.Following their Champions Trophy triumph, cricket in the country also resurrected.The World XI led by Faf Du Plessis toured Pakistan for a three-match T20 series that the hosts won and the West Indies are also going to tour them in 2018 for three T20Is.Cricket has returned to the country after a gap of eight years.SRI LANKA’S DOWNFALLSri Lanka were on a torrid run in 50-over cricket before finally beating India at Dharamsala.Their losing streak started on July 8, 2017 when they lost to Zimbabwe back to back at Hambantota by four and three wickets. After that, they lost five-straight games to India and Pakistan in Sri Lanka and UAE, respectively to go 12 games straight without a win.The island nation suffered their third straight series whitewash in 2017 when Pakistan beat them 5-0 in October. Earlier, they had lost to South Africa and India. Before the Lankans, no team had been whitewashed more than twice in a year in bilateral series of five or more games. They were only whitewashed once in 34 years (1982-2016) in a five-match series and the team to do so was India in 2015.Before this horrendous run, they had lost 14 in a row between 1987 and 1988. None of the eight oldest full-member teams have suffered more than 11 losses in a row. England and West Indies are the only two teams to have lost 11 matches in a row.INDIA’S DOMINANCE Virat Kohli took over the team at the start of the year after Mahendra Singh Dhoni decided to step down.India defeated England (ODIs and T20Is), Bangladesh (Test), Australia (Tests, ODIs), West Indies (ODIs), Sri Lanka (Tests, ODIs and T20Is), New Zealand (ODIs and T20Is) and then again Sri Lanka (Tests, ODIs and T20Is).advertisementWith the series win against the Lankans, India finished the year with 37 victories this year, seven of them in Tests, 21 in ODIs and nine in T20Is.NEW TEAMS IN TESTSTwo new teams were added to the roster in the form of Afghanistan and Ireland.As new full members of the ICC, Ireland and Afghanistan took the total of Test-playing countries to 12.Afghanistan are going to play their first-ever Test against India. However, the dates of the series are yet to be finalised.Until 1982 there were only seven full members of the ICC but that year Sri Lanka were admitted. Zimbabwe then joined in 1992 and Bangladesh wew the last to join in 2000.Cricket has a long history in Afghanistan but the country was amongst the sports minnows until gaining one-day international (ODI) status in 2011.In 2015, Afghanistan played in their first 50-over World Cup and they have also featured in the World Twenty20 competition.Ireland have steadily progressed in the game and first qualified for the World Cup in 2007, when they pulled off a shock win over Pakistan and they have qualified for both World Cups since then.INNOVATIONS IN THE GAMEICC approved the idea of four-day Tests and the first-ever four-day game is being played between South Africa and Zimbabwe. The game started on December 26 at Port Elizabeth. Along with being a four-day Test, it is also be a day-night Test.A minimum of 98 overs were to be played on each day and a first-innings lead of 150 was to be enough to enforce the follow-on in the day-night fixture in Port Elizabeth. Play was also to be extended for an extra 30 minutes to accommodate the additional eight overs.The match ended in two days and inside five sessions as the hosts hammered the visitors by an innings and 120 runs.Up north, the shortest format of the game also went underway.The likes of Virender Sehwag, Mohammed Amir, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Alex Hales were signed up by six teams for the T10 league in Sharjah between December 14-17.Shahid Afridi also picked up a hat-trick in one of the matches to set a record.CONTROVERSIES Ben Stokes was arrested after an incident in Bristol and was detained before being released without charge.Hales, who was with teammate Stokes at the time of his arrest, returned to Bristol in southwest England on Tuesday to help police with the investigation.The duo were handed suspensions and Stokes was also dropped from the Ashes squad. However, Hales was cleared for selection recently and Stokes was added to the limited-overs series squad against Australia.Stokes later decided to travel to New Zealand and play cricket for Canterburry. He started off slowly before hitting a brilliant 92 in his third match.Moving on to England’s Ashes rivals, the Aussies. They also had their fair share of controversies. The players decided against representing their countries if they were not given better contracts by June 30. However, nothing was solved and more than 203 people were ‘technically’ unemployed for over a month. After a war of words and cold vibes, the Aussie players decided to put pen on paper and go ahead with their tours of Bangladesh and India.advertisementSPECIAL MENTION: ASHESAlastair Cook has become the first England batsman to carry his bat since @Athersmike in 1997. England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 28, 2017Talking of the Ashes, the Aussies regained the prestigious urn after beating England in the first-three Tests. The fourth Test is inclined towards England after Alastair Cook’s double hundred. Cook, who managed only 82 runs in the first three Tests and was heavily criticised for his technique. The southpaw came back and struck a fighting double ton — his fifth in Tests to take England to a commanding position.last_img

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