A top-class innings from the best batsman in the world on current form, a dazzling debut from a chinaman bowler, an all-round performance from a legend for an Associate nation and a supremely talented batsman coming of age in probably his nation’s greatest away series – these are our top performers of the week.
Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan miss out despite their superlative performances and so does Ambati Rayudu who played a fine knock in a losing cause in the Deodhar Trophy. Here are the last five men standing.
#1 Kuldeep Yadav
The young man showed no nerves on debut in the final Test against Australia at Dharamsala and bamboozled the Australians, bringing India back into contention after a bad morning session.
Australia were cruising at 144 for 1 with David Warner showing signs of returning back to form and Steve Smith doing what Steve Smith does best. However, Yadav got Warner thanks to a cut shot that was not on and some good catching from Rahane, who is always switched on in the slips.
Kuldeep followed it up with a beautifully flighted delivery that drifted away, created a gap between bat and pad, and castled the stumps of Peter Handscomb. Glenn Maxwell couldn’t pick the wrong one and Pat Cummins gave a simple return catch.
Yadav registered figures of 4/68 in 23 overs bringing India right back into the game as Australia were eventually all-out for 300 on day 1.
#2 Steven Smith
Smith became one of the most successful visiting batsmen in India, scoring his 7th century against in eight outings and his 20th overall. Smith was operating on another plane at Dharamsala in the fourth and final Test against India, displaying controlled aggression while his vice-captain, David Warner, scratched around.
The skipper scored 111 in 173 balls and until his dismissal, didn’t look like he would ever get out. Playing highly risk-free cricket and maneuvering the innings beautifully, Smith added 134 with Warner before a mini-collapse ensued. When he was dismissed, he had scored 111 of Australia’s 208 runs, a massive percentage, as has been the case right through the Border-Gavaskar series.
#3 Kevin O’Brien
Afghanistan would have steamrolled Ireland in the 5-match ODI series at Greater Noida if not for Kevin O’Brien’s all-round show in the fourth ODI of the five-match series. Batting first, Afghanistan posted 220 thanks largely to resistance down the order after they were reduced to 83 for 7 in the 24th over.
O’Brien registered bowling figures of 4/26 in seven overs, three of those four being top order wickets which came in his first three overs with the new ball. He also picked up the danger man Mohammad Nabi who scored 41.
With the bat, O’Brien walked in to bat with Ireland in a spot of bother at 59 for 3 in the 16th over. With minimal fuss, he smashed a 60-ball 72, remaining unbeaten at the end. He had to retire hurt at one point but was there to see his team through in the end despite the middle order wobble at 130 for 6 in the 32nd over.
That win forced the series into a decider which Afghanistan won eventually.
#4 Tamim Iqbal
After winning the Player of the Match award in the second Test against Sri Lanka when Bangladesh defeated the hosts by four wickets, Tamim Iqbal continued his fine form by repeating that feat in the first ODI between the two teams at Dambulla.
Batting first, Bangladesh piled on the agony, scoring 324, thanks to a blazing ton from Tamim. He scored a 142-ball 127, controlling the middle phase when Bangladesh, after a good start, had dropped to 120 for 3 in the 22nd over.
He added 144 for the fourth wicket with Shakib Al Hasan and was eventually dismissed in the 48th over. Sri Lanka never got off to a start and found themselves 31 for 3 after which they never recovered. They were eventually all out for 234 giving the visitors a huge morale-boosting win.
#5 Shikhar Dhawan
Dhawan probably booked his spot in the Indian squad for the Champions Trophy with a sublime century on a good batting strip in Visakhapatnam. Playing for India B, Dhawan scored a 122-ball 128, adding 93 for the opening wicket with Parthiv Patel.
He was eventually dismissed in the 41st over as India B managed to post 327 in their 50 overs. Siddharth Kaul picked up a five-wicket haul for India A.
The chase was on right until the end thanks to a 92-ball 92 by Ambati Rayudu. However, India A were all out for 304 in the 49th over, losing their way despite some brilliance down the order from Deepak Hooda, who scored a 27-ball 46 to take his side within sniffing distance of a victory.
Apart from India A and B, Tamil Nadu will also feature in this year’s Deodhar Trophy after winning the Vijay Hazare tournament.