Click here for part one
Decade review : Ricky rampages, Shoaib sizzles
Players/Officials: Rahul Dravid | Jean-Paul Duminy | Chris Gayle | Herschelle Gibbs | Adam Gilchrist | Brendon McCullum | Ajantha Mendis | Muthiah Muralidaran | Virender Sehwag | Shahid Afridi | Jerome Taylor | Sachin Tendulkar
Andrew Flintoff 68 and 73 and 7 for 131 v Australia
second Test, Edgbaston, 2005
Emboldened by the absence of Glenn McGrath, England had gone hell for leather on the opening day, with Flintoff blasting six fours and five sixes in a 62-ball 68. Having then mopped up Australia's tail to ensure a lead of 99, he came to the crease a second time with England in disarray. Half the side was gone and the lead only 171. Less than two hours later it was 131 for 9, and as Simon Jones marked his guard, the Flintoff gameplan changed. The hitting was no less powerful - six fours and four sixes - but this was a calculated assault, with the waning duo of Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz singled out for especially harsh treatment. After that 73, Flintoff pounded in to bowl Justin Langer and have Ricky Ponting caught behind in a fearsome first over. When Shane Warne trod on his stumps that dramatic fourth morning, it seemed as though Flintoff's labours were over. They were, but only just.
Kevin Pietersen 158 v Australia
fifth Test, The Oval, 2005
Having failed in the first innings, Pietersen arrived at the crease with Glenn McGrath on a hat-trick. The lead was a thin 73, and Australia scented an opportunity to maintain their hold on the urn. The key moment came not long after. An edge off Brett Lee and the ball headed to Shane Warne at slip. He couldn't hold on, and though he atoned with wickets right through the afternoon, Pietersen was undaunted, pulling, slashing and thumping the ball with disdain. There were some astonishing shots off Lee, and some hefty clubs off Warne, and by the time he was eighth out with the lead 314, the destination of the Ashes had been confirmed. So what if he had a skunk on his head?
Rahul Dravid 81 and 68 v West Indies
fourth Test, Jamaica, 2006
After Tests on three featherbeds, the batsmen were woefully underprepared for this bouncy and challenging Sabina Park surface. India slid to 91 for 6 before Dravid and Anil Kumble added 93 to lend the score some respectability. Dravid batted nearly the whole day for his 81, and more than the shots he played, it was his judgment of which deliveries to leave that was a real lesson for everyone else. After they had built a lead of 97, India's batting crumbled a second time. No other batsman crossed 20, yet Dravid's control was absolute, until Corey Collymore got one to shoot through at shin height. As in the first innings, he was the eighth man out, having shown his mastery in conditions that had subdued other greats of the game. India won by 49 runs.
Muttiah Muralitharan, 8 for 70 v England
third Test, Trent Bridge, 2006
After some typically manic hitting had helped stretch Sri Lanka's first innings to 231, Murali played his part in puncturing the English response. With England then left to chase 325 for the win, his wiles were far too much to handle on a dry surface that must have reminded the tourists of home. Marcus Trescothick fell to the doosra, and thereafter it was a procession, with Tillakaratne Dilshan taking some stunning catches at short leg. Murali took the first seven wickets to fall, and there was talk of him emulating Jim Laker and Anil Kumble, but a direct hit from Chamara Kapugedera ended those hopes. There was still time for one more wicket, though, as Sri Lanka romped to a series-levelling victory.
Herschelle Gibbs 175 v Australia
fifth ODI, Wanderers, 2006
Just how do you chase down 434? With the scale of the task facing them so unprecedented, South Africa opted to go out swinging. And how! The 100 of the innings took just 12.2 overs, and by the halfway mark they were 229 for 2. Graeme Smith had departed by then, but Gibbs sailed on serenely, clubbing the ball this way and that. It took him 46 balls to score his half-century. From there to a hundred in 33 balls, and only a further 21 to reach 150. By the time he was out, with more than 18 overs left, he had 175 from 111, and the impossible had become possible. Mark Boucher and Johan van der Wath finished things off. Bowlers the world over wept.
Shane Warne 4 for 49 v England
second Test, Adelaide, 2006
He had bowled 53 overs in the first innings, and been taken for 167 runs on a pitch that could have doubled as a cemetery plot for bowlers. England started the final day 97 in front, with nine wickets standing. They had added 10 more runs when Andrew Strauss was given out caught off the pad. After that, Warne went to work in earnest. Kevin Pietersen was bowled behind his legs out of the rough, and the remaining batsmen were so paralysed by fear that they might have been ants under a magnifying glass waiting for the sun to fry them. The last nine wickets fell for 60 runs. Warne took four, and with Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Stuart Clark also in constrictor mode at the other end, England had nowhere to hide. A boring draw metamorphosed into a series-defining victory.
Adam Gilchrist 149 v Sri Lanka
World Cup final, Barbados, 2007
The World Cup final has seen some astonishing innings, starting with Clive Lloyd in 1975. This, though, was batsmanship in excelsis. Rain had delayed the start and caused overs to be lost, but there were no clouds on Gilchrist's horizon that day. Lasith Malinga was treated with some respect initially, but the other bowlers felt the full weight of his bat as the runs started to flow. Dilhara Fernando put down a difficult return catch when Gilchrist had made 31, and saw the next three balls drilled for four, four and six. The half-century took 43 balls, and by the time Matthew Hayden lofted one to cover after making 38, Australia had 172 on the board in the 23rd over. Gilchrist was on 119. He finished with 149 from 104 balls, and said afterwards that he had batted with half a squash ball in his glove. If only that worked for the rest of us.
Brendon McCullum 158* v Royal Challengers Bangalore
IPL, Bangalore, 2008
After the hype, hoopla, acrobats and laser show, no one knew quite what to expect when the teams entered the Chinnaswamy Stadium for the inaugural IPL game. The Royal Challengers were the home side, but the Kolkata Knight Riders had the Bollywood icon owner, the garish kit and frankly awful golden helmets. They also had McCullum, who decided early on that the stage was meant for him. Every bowler he faced was smashed for at least two sixes - 13 in total - and those around him did little more than turn over the strike as he raced to 158 from just 73 balls. The crowd were supposed to be upset, but after a few moments of indecision, they just lapped it up, even if the short boundaries meant that every swipe from McCullum's bat meant potential grievous bodily harm.
Ajantha Mendis 6 for 13 v India
Asia Cup final, Karachi, 2008
Virender Sehwag was threatening to make mincemeat of a challenging target when Mendis was given the ball in the Asia Cup final. His second delivery lured Sehwag down the pitch and then darted away to give Kumar Sangakkara the easiest of stumpings. Two balls later Yuvraj Singh was flummoxed by a straighter one. Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina both fell playing across the line to leave the innings in tatters, and after a short break Mendis returned to have Irfan Pathan caught at slip and RP Singh bowled. The legbreaks and offbreaks were hard enough to play, but it was the carrom ball that left batsmen utterly bemused. Mendis bowled eight overs for 13, and but for the umpires' inability to fathom which way the ball would go, he might have had more than six wickets to show for it.
Virender Sehwag 201* and 50 v Sri Lanka
second Test, Galle, 2008
India had been terrorised into submission at the SSC in the first Test, with Muttiah Muralitharan, the known devil, and the carrom-ball-flicking Ajantha Mendis, the novice tormentor. But having won the toss, there were no seeds of doubt in Sehwag's mind as he and Gautam Gambhir galloped to 167 for 0. While others struggled to pick Mendis, Sehwag, with his eagle eyes and quick hands, played him calmly off the pitch. Orthodox strokes through the covers were interspersed with impudent ones against the turn and the touches of an innovator. A flurry of wickets forced him to throttle back a little, but he still stroked the ball around at will as India edged towards a decent total. Apart from Gambhir, no one else went past 40. Of India's 329, Sehwag had made 201. When given a second chance, he came out and smashed 50 in even time to lay the foundation for a comfortable Indian victory.
Sachin Tendulkar 103* v England
first Test, Chennai, 2008
A decade earlier Tendulkar had walked away from Chepauk a broken man, a magnificent 136 unable to prevent Pakistan from eking out the narrowest of wins. When he took guard on the final morning, India were still 256 short of an imposing 387-run target. No team had ever chased more than 275 to win a Test match in India, but such history counted for little as Tendulkar set about scripting a masterpiece. Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar bowled in tandem for much of the day, while Andrew Flintoff bustled in. Tendulkar defended obdurately, nudged the ball into the gaps and swept with finesse as the runs accumulated steadily. By the end, with Yuvraj Singh also stroking the ball fluently, it was a breeze, and it was somehow fitting that Tendulkar finished it with another precise sweep. Three weeks after the terror attacks in Mumbai, a nation could smile again.
JP Duminy 166 v Australia
second Test, Melbourne, 2008
A week earlier he had been the accomplice as AB de Villiers pulled off an incredible heist at the WACA. This time Duminy was on his own, with the tail for company and South Africa still short of the follow-on target. After Paul Harris had helped Duminy add 67, Dale Steyn defied Australia for nearly four hours, growing more confident by the minute. All through, Duminy, measured and unflappable, didn't change his approach, and the two added 180 in more than 60 overs of batting that exposed Australia's every frailty. To top it all, after Steyn had departed for 76, Duminy added 28 with Makhaya Ntini to stretch the lead to 65. He finished with 166 and two days later, a proud unbeaten home record that went back a generation lay trampled in the MCG dust.
Jerome Taylor 3 for 74 and 5 for 11
first Test, Jamaica, 2009
A local lad with the new ball. Nothing gets the good folk at Sabina Park going quite like that. But while Taylor had been lively in the first innings, few could have predicted what lay in store when Chris Gayle gave him the ball with West Indies 74 in front. Alastair Cook edged one to the slip cordon, and England were precariously placed at 11 for 2 by lunch. Right after, Taylor delivered the killer blows - Kevin Pietersen's off stump detonated by a legcutter, Andrew Strauss caught behind, and Paul Collingwood bowled off the inside edge. When Matt Prior played all over a slower ball, the game was up. Taylor finished with 5 for 11 from his nine overs, and West Indies won by an innings.
Chris Gayle 88 v Australia
World Twenty20, The Oval, 2009
His two overs had helped rein in the Australians, but even then 170 was by no means a miniscule total to chase. By the end of the six-over Powerplay, though, the match was as good as over, with West Indies having plundered 83. Gayle cut and drove with awesome power, sending a Brett Lee delivery into the road outside the ground, and then thumping one onto the roof of the Bedser Stand. He struck six fours and six sixes in all, and was dismissed for 88 (50 balls) with victory in sight. It was achieved with 25 balls to spare, a Grand Canyon in Twenty20 terms.
Shahid Afridi, 51 and 2 for 16 v South Africa
World Twenty20 semi-final, Trent Bridge, 2009
It had started just like any other Shahid Afridi innings. A couple of fours walloped through midwicket, and an impudent kiss blown Jacques Kallis' way in response to a cold stare. But the clowning ended there. Midway through their innings, Pakistan had 68 for two, with Afridi quietly easing to 30 from 25 balls. The sight of Johan Botha, however, seemed to appeal to his most primal instincts. Three wanton inside-out heaves over cover were followed by the deftest of late cuts as he finished with 51 from 34 balls. Then, with ball in hand, he deceived both Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers with deliveries that went on straight in a miserly spell of 2 for 16. Pakistan sneaked home by seven runs, and the car horns blared long into the night outside the ground as the fans chanted his name incessantly.
Click here for part one
Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
|Comments have now been closed for this article