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The Weekly - 8th January

Last updated on 08 Jan 2024 | 02:07 PM
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The Weekly - 8th January

From India's Test win in South Africa to a 12-year-old making a First-class debut, here's everything that happened in the cricket world this week

Howdy people! 

After my brilliant colleague Anirudh Suresh took you through the extensive 2023 recap in the last edition of our newsletter, we are back with the usual business of going through all the major happenings of the week. 

Like all the weeks before this one, so much happened in these seven days! It was exciting, controversial, sad, jubilant, frustrating, and basically had every emotion known to humankind. So why wait? Let’s begin this new week with a zesty recap of what happened in the last one. 

What’s happening on the field?

> After losing the first Test comprehensively, which raised many eyebrows, the Indian men’s Test team bounced back in the two-match Test series against South Africa to win the second Test in Cape Town by seven wickets and draw the series 1-1. 

Mohammed Siraj was the star performer for India, picking up six wickets for just 15 runs in the first innings. Jasprit Bumrah also pitched in with a six-wicket haul in the second innings. These bowling performances allowed India to stay ahead in the game despite losing their last six wickets for no run in their first innings. 

> After getting absolutely pulverised by Australia in the three-match ODI series, where they were clean-sweeped, the Indian women came back well to dominate and win the first T20I by nine wickets. 

However, champion sides are not down for long, as Australia bounced back in the second T20I to win it by six wickets, forcing a decider in the three-match series. The second T20I also happened to be Ellyse Perry’s 300th international game for Australia, and she won the game for Australia in style with a six.  

> Australia men whitewashed Pakistan in the three-match Test series. After losing the first two Tests by 360 and 79 runs, respectively, Pakistan lost the third one by eight wickets despite the efforts of Aamer Jamal, who was the Player of the Match for scoring 82(97) and picking up 6/69 in the Test. 

Australian skipper Pat Cummins continued his purple patch and won the Player of the Series for his 19 wickets in the series. 

> The Brisbane Heat have continued to dominate the ongoing season of the Big Bash League (BBL) and currently are on top of the points table with six wins in eight games. 

Adelaide Strikers' Matthew Short is leading the run-scoring charts, while Brisbane Heat's Xavier Bartlett is on top of the bowling charts. 

> The 2024 season of the Ranji Trophy began on January 5 (Friday), and even in this short while, there has been a lot of action. 

Cheteshwar Pujara of Saurashtra scored 243 against Jharkhand in the typical Pujara fashion. Meanwhile, despite the loss by ten wickets against Chandigarh, Assam’s Riyan Parag scored 155 in just 87 balls to create a lot of buzz. 

Also read: Ranji Roundup - Padikkal, Parag and Pujara light-up the first week of Ranji Trophy

> Shweta Sehrawat lit up the ongoing Women’s Senior One Day Trophy by scoring 242 in just 150 balls against Nagaland. The tournament began on January 4 and will go on until January 26. 

What’s happening off the field 

> The first week of 2024 was a week of retirements in international cricket. 

While David Warner retired from Test and ODI cricket, Dean Elgar played his last international game for the Proteas in Cape Town. 

Also read - David Warner's illustrious Test and ODI career in numbers

While these two retirements were announced previously, Heinrich Klaasen shocked everyone by retiring from Test cricket on January 8 (Monday). The big-hitting Proteas keeper has played only four Tests for South Africa. 

Aaron Finch also announced his retirement from BBL cricket this week, ending his T20 career in all likelihood. 

> India announced their squad for the T20I series against Afghanistan. In the absence of Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have also been included in the squad. 

Meanwhile, Mujeeb Ur Rahman has been picked in Afghanistan’s squad for this series despite the issues over NOC from the Afghanistan Cricket Board that surfaced a few days before this announcement. 

> The schedule for the 2024 T20 World Cup hosted by the USA and the West Indies has been released, and the marquee India-Pakistan clash will take place in New York on June 9. The tournament will begin on June 1 and end on June 29. 

> In great news for the Netherlands, their skipper Scott Edwards has been slotted in the Melbourne Renegades squad for their last two BBL games, where he will replace Quinton de Kock. Notably, Edwards spent a big part of his growing years in Melbourne. 

> The International Cricket Council (ICC) changed the playing conditions, so a TV Umpire won’t be checking a caught behind while reviewing a stumping. 

The decision has been enforced since December 12, 2023, and now, if a team wants to review a caught behind when the keeper has also affected a stumping, they would need to do it by using the Decision Review System (DRS). 

> The all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva has replaced Dimuth Karunaratne as the Test skipper of Sri Lanka. Karunaratne captained Sri Lanka for 30 Tests, which included a historic series win in South Africa. 

In the Spotlight 

Mohammed Siraj 

Cape Town was a spicy deck, to say the least. After their loss in the first Test, very few gave India a chance of a comeback in the series at Cape Town. Everything was pointing towards a 0-2 defeat for India. However, that’s when a Hyderabadi fast bowler said, “Not today”!

We have seen Mohammed Siraj go on a rampage and end an entire innings in a single spell of bowling. This time, it happened in Test cricket, where he bowled just nine overs but picked up six Proteas wickets. The destruction was so quick that despite winning the toss and batting first, South Africa were all out within one session. There was no coming back for the Proteas after that. 

Phoebe Litchfield 

The girl from Orange (New South Wales) is only 20, but the way she played in the three ODIs against India in India showed maturity and skill beyond her years

This was the first time that Phoebe Litchfield was playing in India, but her scores of 78, 63 and 119 in the three ODIs are pretty impressive. Her shot-making was crisp, and sweeping on both sides of the wicket was a sight to watch as her fast and low hands set the Wankhede boundary on fire with her searing shots. 

The next generation of Australian domination is already looking scary if more players like Litchfield will be a part of it. 

Aamer Jamal 

Aamer Jamal once laid bricks in Australia while he played local cricket there. At that time, no one would think that he’ll make the Aussies **** bricks in a Test series. 

Pakistan may have lost the Test 3-0, but Jamal was the pick of their bowlers. He took 18 wickets in six innings in the series and troubled the Australian batters with his consistency and incisive deliveries. In fact, whenever Shan Masood needed a wicket in the series, he turned towards Jamal. 

With a crucial innings of 82 that allowed Pakistan some hope in the third Test, Jamal also proved that he is no mug with the bat. With performances like that, he deserves all the spotlight he’s getting. 

Controversy of the Week 

As if the news of a 12-year-old making his first-class debut wasn’t enough hype, the game between Bihar and Mumbai at the Moin-ul-Haq Stadium in Patna attained the next level of fame (or infamous) when two teams arrived to represent Bihar. 

One of those teams belonged to the President of the Bihar Cricket Association and the other to the Secretary. There were also reports of heated arguments between the board officials, which delayed the start of the game. Ultimately, the Preisdent-chosen team took the field. 

As if this wasn’t enough, videos of the dilapidated state of the stadium made rounds on social media, with Bihar getting a lot of flak for such abject mismanagement. 

It takes a big controversy to drown out the pitch chatter that arose after the short-lived Cape Town Test. And boy, wasn’t this big! 

Picture of the Week

A farewell of epic proportions deserves an epic image.

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