It was difficult for us to choose the 10 best moments from international cricket this year. The year 2021 saw some memorable performances on the cricket field. It began with New Zealand, created cricketing history more than once. First, they defeated India with ease to be crowned the inaugural World Test champions. Towards the end of the year, left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel became the first Kiwi bowler and only the third overall to claim 10 wickets in an innings in a Test.
While Australia won their first-ever T20 World Cup title, Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan became the first batter to smash 1000 T20I runs in a calendar year.
Here are The Business Standard’s ten biggest moments in international cricket in 2021.
#1 Kieron Pollard’s six sixes
West Indies’ limited-overs captain Kieron Pollard hit six sixes in an over against Sri Lanka. He managed the feat in the first T20I of a three-match series in Coolidge. West Indies were only set 132 for victory. But Akila Dananjaya kept the visitors in the hunt by claiming a hat-trick in the fourth over.
Pollard, however, smashed the same bowler for six sixes when he came into the attack again. While the first one was slogged over long-on, the second was lofted down the ground. The Windies skipper completed a hat-trick of sixes by clubbing the third ball over wide long-off. The fourth delivery was slammed over deep midwicket, the fifth over the bowler’s head and the last ball again over deep midwicket.
— Mufaddal Vohra (@mufaddal_vohra) March 4, 2021
#2 Scott Boland’s 6 for 7
Australian pacer Scott Boland was added to the Ashes squad ahead of the Boxing Day Test, with the fast bowling department struggling with injuries and niggles. He ended up making his Test debut at the MCG, returning with figures of 6 for 7 from four overs in the second innings.
Boland claimed the wickets of Haseeb Hameed (7) and Jack Leach (0) late on Day 2. He returned to roll over England on Day 3 with some spectacular bowling. Boland trapped Jonny Bairstow (5) lbw, beating him for pace. He also ended Joe Root’s resistance for 28 as the England captain nicked an attempted drive.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 28, 2021
#3 Mayers’ Chattogram miracle
Chasing a mammoth 395 on a day five Chattogram pitch against Bangladesh, what debutant Kyle Mayers did was nothing short of a miracle. Mayers got an ally in Nkrumah Bonner, also on debut. These two added 216 important runs which was the second-highest partnership ever between two debutants in the history of Tests. Even after Bonner’s dismissal, Mayers continued to pounce on the bowlers and got his team over the line.
#4 New Zealand crowned first World Test Champions, beat India by 8 wickets
On the final day of the final of the World Test Championship (WTC), New Zealand were given a target of 139 in 53 overs. R Ashwin sent back the openers early but the experienced duo of Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson stuck together and ensured no more harm was done before they chased it down successfully.
5# Australia get the another ICC trophy
Australia maintained their unbeaten record against New Zealand in major ICC event knockouts as Aaron Finch’s men beat the Black Caps convincingly by eight wickets in the final and won their maiden T20 World Cup title. For the record five-time winners of the Cricket World Cup, the T20 Cup was a trophy that was not present in their showcase. Six years after Australia’s crushing win in 2015 final, they repeated the feat in the T20 format in Dubai. Mitchell Marsh and David Warner’s magnificent performance with the bat helped the Aussies lift the title. Kane Williamson played a masterclass of an innings but ended up being on the losing side. Marsh top-scored for Australia in the final with an unbeaten 77 off 50 balls.
6# Ajaz Patel’s perfect ten
New Zealand’s slow left-arm bowler Ajaz Patel became the third bowler in the history of Tests to pick up all ten wickets in an innings against India in Mumbai, the town where he was born. Patel, whose parents emigrated to New Zealand from India in 1996, finished with 10 for 119 in the first innings. Before him, only Jim Laker and Anil Kumble had achieved the feat. Although New Zealand lost the match by a massive margin, Patel had a tremendous match, picking up as many as 14 wickets in the match. His match figures of 14 for 225 was the best performance by any bowler against India.
#7 India’s incredible comeback
After India were bundled out for a paltry 36 in Adelaide, their regular captain Virat Kohli’s departure was a massive blow. During the tour, they lost a host of players to injury. But the visitors scripted a comeback for the ages despite the odds not being in their favour. After a scintillating win in the second Test in Sydney, India managed to draw the third match in Sydney. Although he could not get his team home in the third match, Rishabh Pant turned out to be the hero for India in the fourth Test at the Gabba. His unbeaten 89 helped India chase 328 and it was the first time since 1988 that a team had defeated Australia on that very ground. From being 1-0 behind, a depleted India won the series 2-1 against Australia in Australia.
#8 Sri Lanka Thrash India By 7 Wickets in 3rd T20 in Colombo and Take the T20 Series 2-1
Exposing India’s young batsmen’s inability to tackle spin, Sri Lanka conjured up a seven-wicket victory in the deciding third Twenty20 to hand the fancied Asian neighbours a 2-1 series defeat, here on Thursday. Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga (4/9) made the Indians dance to his tunes on his 24th birthday, playing a crucial role in restricting them to a paltry 81 for eight, which is their lowest against the Lankans. The match was reduced to a no-contest after India’s disappointing batting display as off-spinner Akila Danajaya too troubled the batsmen though he did not take any wicket.
#9 Shaheen Afridi’s first spell against India
Shaheen Shah Afridi’s blistering opening spell against India was certainly the talk of the town during the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Shaheen picked up three of India’s most dangerous batters – Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. Rohit and Rahul fell in the first over. Rohit was pinned leg-before off a deadly yorker while Rahul was cleaned up off another full and swinging delivery. His first over set the tone for Pakistan and they went on to beat India by a massive margin of 10 wickets and it was the first team Pakistan defeated India in any World Cup. Pakistan, before that, had never won a T20I match by 10 wickets.
#10 The rise of Namibian cricket
The astonishing rise of Namibian cricket was certainly the story of this year’s T20 World Cup. They came into the World Cup as the lowest-ranked team in the tournament and were placed in Group A along with Sri Lanka, Ireland and the Netherlands. They, on paper, were the weakest side in the group and not many predicted that they would progress to the Super 12s. But they beat stronger opponents in the form of the Netherlands and Ireland in the first round. Namibia not only qualified for the main stage but also won their first-ever game in the Super 12s against Scotland. It’s a feat that hasn’t been achieved even by the likes of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. They did not win more than one game in the tournament but it was still a creditable effort from the Namibians.