If you are an Indian, cricket wouldn’t be the first thing on your mind for obvious reasons. But regardless, there’s a lot that happened in cricket this week. To start with, the U-19 World Cup is happening in South Africa, and although the week was a bit light on international cricket, but there’s more than enough top-level franchise and domestic cricket to keep the news notifications coming in throughout the week!
So why wait? Let’s begin with this week’s edition of the most comprehensive and the most zesty weekly recap of everything cricket.
What’s happening ON the field
> How crazy is too crazy for a cricket game? All boundaries of incredulity were breached with reckless abandon in the third T20I, where not only India and Afghanistan tied on 212 in Bengaluru, but it took not one but two super overs to get a result.
India defeated Afghanistan in the second super over by 10 runs. Rohit Sharma’s spectacular batting display in both the main game and the super overs and Ravi Bishnoi’s twin strike in the second super over were game-changing performances for India. Meanwhile, Gulbadin Naib impressed yet again with his booming 55 that came in just 23 balls.
Shivam Dube was the Player of the Series for his superb performances in the first two games.
> Pakistan avoided a whitewash against New Zealand in the fifth T20I courtesy of a dominating performance with the ball, resulting in a 42-run victory for the team in green.
Finn Allen was adjudged the Player of the Series for his 275 runs in the five T20Is.
> Australia defeated West Indies in the first of the two Tests by 10 wickets. Travis Head was named Player of the Match for his spectacular ton in a low-scoring encounter.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean debutante Shamar Joseph impressed everyone by picking up a fifer on debut and scoring 51 runs across the two innings with the bat.
> The Men’s U-19 World Cup began on January 19 in South Africa. Ireland defeated the USA in the tournament's first game by 7 wickets. The India U-19 also began their tournament positively, beating Bangladesh by 84 runs.
> With the Sixers already in the final, Brisbane Heat defeated the Strikers by 54 runs today (January 22) to find themselves just one win away from the trophy. It wouldn't have been possible for the Heat without Josh Brown's unbelievable knock of 140 runs from just 57 balls. Brown's unbelievable knock was the second fastest ton in BBL HISTORY!
The final is scheduled for January 24, and it will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in front of the Sixers' faithful.
> The U-19 World Cup isn’t the only cricket happening in South Africa at the moment. The SA20’s second season has made the noise for all the right reasons, as top-quality crowds and cricket have made it a worthy spectacle.
With five games done for four teams, the Paarl Royals are currently leading the points table, with Durban Supergiants and Sunrisers Eastern Cape in the second and third spot, respectively. MI Capetown's Ryan Rickleton has lit up the tournament with 337 runs in just four innings.
> Along with the SA20, the International League T20 is the other T20 league happening worldwide.
The league started on January 19, and the Dubai Capitals are currently leading the points table, with only two teams out of six having played more than one game.
What’s happening OFF the field?
> Virat Kohli has withdrawn from the first two Tests of the five-Test series against England, citing personal reasons. The BCCI is yet to announce a replacement.
Meanwhile, Harry Brook also pulled out of the entire Test series for personal reasons as well. Dan Lawrence has been named his replacement.
> The BCCI on Saturday awarded the title sponsorship rights for the Indian Premier League to TATA Group for a period of five years.
The Indian conglomerate, with diverse verticals, has renewed its association with the BCCI for a record-breaking value of INR 2500 crore—the highest-ever sponsorship amount in the history of the league.
> Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Zaka Ashraf resigned from his role on Friday, citing the lack of powers to administer the board.
The interim Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq will now decide who takes over the board's command. Until then, an interim head would continue administering the PCB.
Ashraf’s resignation isn’t the only change in Pakistani cricket management. The trio of Mickey Arthur, Grant Bradburn and Andrew Puttick have decided to move on from their roles with Pakistan Cricket, the board announced on Thursday (January 18).
They were assigned duties at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) after the ODI World Cup in India in November 2023 but have resigned from their respective positions.
> In a surprising move, four West Indies Women players Anisa Mohammed, Shakera Selman, Kycia Knight, and Kyshona Knight have all announced their retirement from international cricket. All four of them have informed Cricket West Indies of their decision.
> Hamish Rutherford, the former New Zealand and Otago opener, has announced retirement from all forms of cricket. He will be playing his last game on January 23 against Northern Districts in the Super Smash 2024, where he’ll also be honoured by Otago Cricket. The left-hander famously smashed a 171 on his Test debut against England, back in 2013.
> There has been a rejig in the India A squad for the series against the England Lions, with the Men’s Selection Committee picking Tilak Varma and Arshdeep Singh in the squad for the last two first-class matches.
Rinku Singh, who was in South Africa as a backup in the Test squad, is all set to play his first four-day game for India A after amassing 3099 runs at an average of 58.47 in first-class cricket.
> Suryakumar Yadav has undergone his second surgery in as many months - this time on his groin for his worsening sports hernia condition. Last month, he suffered an ankle injury during India's tour of South Africa, for which he had to undergo surgery.
> Jake Fraser-McGurk and Xavier Bartlett have been included in Australia’s squad for the three-match ODI series against West Indies, starting from February 2. Steven Smith will lead the team.
> Bangladeshi allrounder Nasir Hossain has been banned from all forms of cricket by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after he was found guilty of breaching the Emirates Cricket Board’s anti-corruption code during the 2020-21 Abu Dhabi T10 league.
In the spotlight
"Two straight ducks after 14 months of hiatus.Perpetually under pressure for an average T20 record. And then you witness your side collapse to 22/4 in less than five overs. On Wednesday, the setting couldn’t have been more anticlimactic for Rohit Sharma in the third and final T20I at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
But how did he respond to it?
With his fifth T20I century and first since 2018. When India needed their skipper to rise to the occasion, the Mumbaikar didn’t just step up but roared - with a perfect blend of caution and aggression that’s so typical of Rohit Sharma.”
These words by my colleague Bastab Parida just sum up Rohit’s innings in Bengaluru in the most apt fashion possible. There’s nothing else to say except throwing the spotlight on the Indian skipper who finally made merry.
The Kiwi opener is a curious case of unfulfilled talent. For most of his career, he has arrived at the crease with a lot of fire but his life there has tended to fade quickly like a firecracker. However, things changed for Finn Allen during the five T20I series against Pakistan.
275 runs in five innings with a highest of 137 shouts a dramatic resurgence for Allen, who finally paid back the faith his team management showed in him for so long. He attacked the Pakistani bowlers from the word go and was a big reason behind the BlackCaps winning the series 4-1. No wonder the explosive right-hander was named the Player of the Series.
18 months before, Shamar Joseph was a security guard in Guyana. Now, he has made his Test debut for the West Indies, got Steve Smith out on the first ball of his career and has got a fifer in his first-ever Test innings as well.
Even miracles have a limit. Shamar Joseph doesn’t. He runs in like Michael Holding and delivers the ball, which makes one reminisce about the great Windies pacers from the 80s and 90s whose actions were biomechanical perfection.
West Indies might have lost the Adelaide Test match by 10 wickets, but they've now got a new rising star.
Controversy of the Week
This week had less drama, but the controversy that stole the headlines this week belongs to something that happened to Mohammad Nabi in the third T20I against India in Bengaluru. I'll let Bastab take you through this -
“On the last ball of the first Super Over bowled by Mukesh Kumar, Mohammed Nabi missed the wide yorker by some margin, but started running as if his life depended on it. Wicket-keeper Sanju Samson collected the ball immediately and threw it toward the stumps, but the ball hit a running Mohammed Nabi on his legs.
It got deflected off his legs, and the ball moved towards mid-on, where Virat Kohli was stationed. Ideally, the balls should have been dead now - but the Afghanistan batters - Nabi and Gurbaz - kept on running further to collect another couple of runs.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were clueless about it and started complaining about the same to the umpire, Sharma. It was when the confusion started.
However, Mohammed Nabi instantly claimed that he hadn’t changed the direction of his run - hence, the throw hitting him wasn’t on him. That was completely fair and within the rules of the game - it was down to the umpire to determine whether Nabi was intentional about it or not. He concurred with the batter and awarded two runs to the visiting side.”
At the end, that first super-over was tied. Those two runs given to Nabi created a lot of buzz and discussions everywhere, and the temperature on the ground was quite high.
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