Cricket fans across the world were treated to some exceptional performances and comebacks in the year 2019. While the India cricket team started the year with their historic first-ever Test series victory in Australia, Sri Lanka became the first cricket team from Asia to win a Test series in South Africa. While England won their maiden ICC cricket World Cup title, the iconic Lord's stadium became witness to arguably the most enthralling World Cup final ever.
Business Standard brings you the top four most exciting moments that defined cricket in 2019:
Lasith Malinga’s 4 wickets in 4 ball
Sri Lanka pacer Lasith Malinga
After their dismal performance in the ICC World Cup 2019, Sri Lanka found a high point in their bilateral T20 series against New Zealand which they hosted. In the third T20 at Pallekele, Sri Lanka veteran pacer Lasith Malinga again proved age was just a number for him when he claimed four wickets in four balls to help his team defend a below-par total of 125.
In the third over of the Kiwi chase, Malinga cleaned up Colin Munro with a 140-kmph yorker off the third delivery. On the next ball, he trapped Hamish Rutherford before the wicket with an inswinger; though the original decision was ‘not out’, the umpire had to overturn his call after review. Colin de Grandhomme, who had scored 44 and 59 in the previous two games, became Malinga’s hat-trick wicket. The fourth victim in as many balls was the experience Ross Taylor, whom Malinga trapped before the wicket with a toe-crushing yorker. Malinga claimed a fifer in the match — the fifth was Tim Seifert, caught off a half-volley — and ended up with the figures of 4-1-6-5.
Steve Smith's Ashes comeback
Australia's Steve Smith celebrates reaching his hundred runs during the Ashes cricket test between England and Australia in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo: AP/PTI)
Australia’s Steve Smith showed to the world during the 2019 Ashes series in England, after the ICC World Cup, that he still had the mental toughness to overcome the odds on the cricket field. Playing his first Test after serving a ban due to a ball-tampering incident, Smith scored 144 and 142 at Birmingham to put the Aussies 1-0 up. He looked set for another hundred at Lord’s when a blow to the neck from Jofra Archer forced him to retire hurt. He returned later, but, clearly unsettled, was dismissed for 92. Marnus Labuschagne, the first concussion substitute in cricket history, replaced him in the second innings.
After missing the Headingley Test, which England won on the back of Ben Stokes’ heroics, Smith returned to put the Aussies 2-1 up at Manchester. He smashed 211 in the first innings and added a brisk 82 in the second as England went down by 185 runs. In the last Test, Smith scored 80 and 23 at The Oval against a total tally of 774 runs. England squared the series with a 135-run win in the final Test, but Aussies retained the urn.
Kusal Perera’s epic 153 not out
Kusal Perera. Photo:@ICC
Sri Lankan cricket had something to cheer about after an average performance in 2018 when Kusal Perera scored a heroic, unbeaten 153 against South Africa at Durban in February. Chasing 304, Sri Lanka seemed out of the game, tottering at 226 for 9. Perera was playing at 86 when the last man Vishwa Fernando joined him. His innings, it seemed to many, was just delaying the inevitable — a crushing defeat for Sri Lanka.
However, Perera produced a counter-attacking cricket and also kept Fernando out of strike in what will be remembered as one of the greatest Test knocks. Perera smashed five sixes and 12 fours in an incredible 153 not out, and before the Proteas could figure out what had hit them, the game was over. Fernando faced just 27 balls and contributed a valuable six in the unbroken last-wicket stand of 78. Buoyed by the miraculous triumph, Sri Lanka went on to register a historic 2-0 win over South Africa. Read More
Ben Stokes’ incredible innings in Headingley Test
Ben Stokes celebrates victory on day four of the third Ashes cricket Test match against Australia at Headingley, Leeds
England’s World Cup hero Ben Stokes produced a Test innings similar to Perera’s during the Ashes. England were bundled out for an embarrassing 67 in the first innings at Headingley. Chasing 359 for victory, they were struggling at 286 for 9. Stokes was at other end at 61 when last man Jack Leach came to the crease.
The England all-rounder went hammer and tongs to produce a marvellous innings of 135, which some compared with Ian Botham’s 149 in 1981 at the same ground. Stokes and Leach featured in an incredible last-wicket stand of 76, with Leach’s contribution being just 1 off 17 balls. In his 135-run innings, Stokes hit eight sixes and 11 fours. Read More
Edge-of-the-seat ICC World Cup 2019 final
England team wins ICC WC 2019
We saved the best for the last. The final match of the ICC World Cup 2019, played between England and New Zealand, had every ingredient to spice up cricket fans’ palate — from the match ending in a tie after 100 overs of intense play to the Super Over also remaining tied. While chasing a sub-par total of 241 set by the Kiwis, Ben Stokes ‘almost’ steered England to their first World Cup title with an unbeaten 84 off 98 balls. But the match went into a ‘Super Over’ as both teams scored an equal number of runs. England scored an impressive total of 15 runs in the Super over, and while chasing it New Zealand also scored 15, causing another tie. The latter tie had to be decided with the contentious ‘boundary-count’ rule that raised many eyebrows. England ended up on the winning side because of the controversial rule, but it eventually was a victory for cricket as both teams had been equally stupendous on the field. Read More