The year 2021 was filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, and comprised some of the most outlandish moments the Gentleman’s Game has ever seen. From the joys of the re-introduction of fans in stadiums following the ongoing pandemic to the lows of scandals from the past, the year 2021 has been quite monumental in its own right. The following is an insightful look at the top 10 best cricket moments of 2021.
1. India’s series win against Australia
Picture this, your team faced a humiliating defeat in the first match of a four-match series away from home, lost some of its best players including the first-choice skipper early on, the side is comprised of inexperienced youngsters and you’re facing an indomitable squad, conquering which is almost an impossible feat. The odds were stacked against the Men-in-Blue and yet somehow, in some way, the Rahane-led side was able to dethrone the mighty Aussies after a series which will go down as one of the greatest ever in cricket history.
After a historic win at the MCG which saw the skipper Ajinkya Rahane leading from the front with a century, the Sydney Test match was saved on the final day due to the heroic efforts of Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari. The Indians then continued with their winning ways and got the better of the Kangaroos in the final test match on the backs of a star-making performance from Rishabh Pant accompanied by Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Mohammad Siraj, Shardul Thakur, and Washington Sundar. This marked the end of Australia’s undefeated streak at the Gabba which lasted for over 33 years.
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2. New Zealand wins first-ever world test championship
After suffering heartbreaks in the finals of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, New Zealand was finally able to get a taste of world championship supremacy when the Kiwis emerged with the winner’s share of the purse in the finals of the 2021 World Test Championship Finals against India in June. Williamson and co. marched into Southampton with purpose and outplayed India across all aspects of the game in the 5-day game. The momentous occasion marked their first ICC title since winning the 2000 Champions Trophy.
3. Australia wins it’s first-ever T20 world cup
Australia was finally able to drape itself in the silverware of the T20 World Cup that alluded them for over 14 years. The Aussies, despite being the unlikeliest of winners among the four teams that qualified for the semis, brought their A-game on the field at the business end of the prestigious T20 tournament. Powered by the enthralling performance of one David Warner; who turned the tide of his career for the good and gave the Kangaroos consistently solid starts, and a solid bowling unit, the Australians ran through the competition to championship glory.
4. Ajaz Patel becomes the third bowler ever to take 10 wickets in an innings
‘The stars lined up for me’. Ajaz Patel’s summation of his mind-bending, historic achievement was heartening. The Mumbai-born New Zealand left-arm spinner isn’t someone you would count among the elite spinners of the world. He’s far from the legend of the Ashwin’s and Lyons of the cricketing world. He honed his craft, tirelessly on the punishing, unyielding pitches in New Zealand after migrating there as a schoolboy.
But little he would have imagined that one day, he would return to the place of his birth and do something that only two players have done before him in the history of Test cricket. In India’s first innings of the Mumbai Test in November, Ajaz took all 10 wickets to have fallen and thus became the third-ever bowler to do so after Jim Laker and Anil Kumble. And if it doesn’t make a cut to top 10 best cricket moments of 2021, then we don’t know what does.
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5. Akila Dhananjaya gets a hat-trick and got hit for 6 sixes in the same match by Pollard
Well, the following paragraph is a perfect description of how unpredictable and unprecedented life can be. It can take you from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows at the snap of a finger. Sri Lankan all-rounder Akila Dhananjaya learned this the hard way round. In a home T20 game against the Windies, Dhananjaya sent shockwaves in the Caribbean camp chasing the 132-run target by grabbing a hat-trick in his second over. However, things took a turn for the worse for the off-break bowler as the West Indian skipper Keiron Pollard hit Dhananjaya for 6 sixes in his very next over. The occasion will be earmarked as how unpredictable the modern-day cricketing world can be as Dhananjaya’s bitter-sweet day on the field will go down as one of the best moments of the year 2021.
6. Pakistan ends their winless streak against India at world cup tournaments
After being the butt of all jokes for decades, the Pakistan Cricket Team was finally able to get the better of their neighbors east of the border and beat them in a world cup fixture. They needed a defining win to mark such a huge occasion and a defining win they got. After stopping an uninspired Indian batting unit to a below-par total of 151, skipper Babar Azam and fellow counterpart Mohammad Rizwan took matters in their own hands and batted their way to a memorable win for the Pakistanis. The moment embarked Pakistan’s first win against the Men-in-Blue in over 29 years since their first encounter in a world cup. Ans this marked one of the top 10 best cricket moments of 2021.
7. Bangladesh wins T20 series at home against Australia and NZ
What if we told you that aside that could hardly register a victory in the T20 World Cup absolutely dismantled the finalists of the same tournament in consecutive bilateral series? As surprising as it may sound, it did happen when Bangladesh beat Australia and New Zealand in two T20I series wins in home soil. Taking full advantage of the home conditions, a motivated Bangladeshi unit comprising a perfect blend of seasoned vets and gritty youngsters paved their way to everlasting glory after beating the countries on either side of the Tasman Sea. It all started with the Bangla Tigers proving their merit by beating the Australians 4-1 in a 5-match series and they continued their winning ways with a defining 3-2 win against a promising Blackcaps side. This verifies the fact that 2021 wasn’t messing around when it came to surprising results.
8. MSD led CSK to their fourth IPL title
After a horrendous season that saw the Chennai Super Kings being knocked out of the IPL for the first time in the group stages in 2020, the Yellow Army had the perfect fairy tale ending to their chapter with an inspired season that saw them lift the coveted trophy for a record 4th time. The 14th edition of the IPL saw the rise of youngsters like Ruturaj Gaikwad who proved their mettle and showed that they have what it takes to hand with some of the best in the business. In addition to this, the IPL Trophy comes as another feather in the cap of Dhoni as a skipper, who will undoubtedly go down as one of the best if not the best captain to have ever graced a cricket field. This definitely is one of the top 10 best cricket moments of 2021.
9. West indies chase 395 against Bangladesh
Picture this, you’re an inspiring up-and-coming batter and after years of hard work, you get to make your debut in the longest format of the game, away from home. Your side is down bad and defeat is almost inevitable and that’s when you swoop in and score a magnificent double hundred. In the process, you help your team win a game in which they had been ruled out of the way back. Kyle Myers lived through the fantasy of every cricket fan ever who dreamt of a perfect debut while playing for their country. In the process, Myers created a magical inning of 210* and powered the Caribbeans to chase the 395-run target.
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10. Root scores third-highest run ever in a calendar year
The year 2021 belonged to Joe Root; the Test batter. With 1630 runs from 14 Tests, Root has become just the fourth player in the format’s history to breach the 1600-run mark in a calendar year. The record for the most runs in a calendar year belongs to Mohmmad Yousuf who made 1788 runs in 2006. Root still has a Test left in this year and the form that he has been in, there’s a real possibility he can surpass that too. Additionally, Root has also surpassed the legendary Alastair Cook for the record of most Test runs by an England captain now. He also went past Cook for the most 50s by an England captain in Test – Root has 37, one more than Cook now. However, no support from the other end meant England equalled Bangladesh’s unfortunate record for most Test defeats in a calendar year with 9 losses.