Three ODIs and the first day of a tough Test give us the five top cricketers of the week. Like all good cricket matches, these games have given us both batsmen and bowlers who performed out of their skins to get their country a timely advantage.
There were centuries and five-wicket hauls, for what is the fun in keeping stats without these milestones. Without much ado, let us look at the top performances of the week.
#5 Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir (South Africa)
It was hard to leave one of them out for the other, so good has been their bowling in the fifth ODI between South Africa and New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland. In the series-deciding game, New Zealand capitulated to 149 all out in just 41.1 overs thanks to great spells from Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada.
Rabada, who won the Player of the Match, registered match figures of 7.1-1-25-3, picking up the big wicket of Martin Guptill, along with those of James Neesham and Colin Grandhomme.
Tahir was particularly brilliant with match figures of 10-0-14-2. He didn’t concede even a single boundary and bowled 46 dot balls, cleaning up the New Zealand tail. He picked up the wickets of lower-order batsmen Tim Southee and JS Patel in consecutive overs.
South Africa didn’t have the best of starts at 6 for 1, dropping later to 48 for 3 but Faf du Plessis’ unbeaten half-century made short work of the target allowing them to pick the series trophy and climb to the No.1 position in ODIs.
#4 Martin Guptill (New Zealand)
New Zealand’s swashbuckling opener became the first batsman to register three 180-plus scores with his scintillating knock of 180* off just 138 balls as New Zealand chased down a hefty target of 280 in just 45 overs to level the series against South Africa 2-2 at Seddon Park, Hamilton.
South Africa, batting first, posted 279 thanks to half-centuries from Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers, the latter giving the innings some impetus with his unbeaten 59-ball 72 that had four fours and three sixes. In reply, New Zealand were 5 for 1 in the third over but then on, it was the Guptill show.
He added 180 for the third wicket with Ross Taylor who scored a 97-ball 66. Guptill’s knock that got him the Player of the Match was embellished with 15 fours and 11 sixes.
#3 Eoin Morgan (England)
Morgan became the first English skipper to score 5 ODI centuries as captain, helping England post 296 against West Indies in the first ODI in North Sound, Antigua. Morgan walked in at a slightly tricky 29 for 3 but remained until the final over of the innings, adding 67 with Sam Billings, 110 with Ben Stokes and 53 with Moeen Ali.
The skipper’s 116-ball 107 had 11 fours and two sixes and helped England post a sizeable 296. This was Morgan’s 10th ODI century. West Indies were in it for a long while but no one played a Morgan-like innings for them, with Jason Mohammed top-scoring. a 91-ball 72, adding 69 for the fourth wicket and 82 for the fifth wicket to keep them in the chase.
Eventually, West Indies were 251 all out, conceding the first match by 46 runs in the three-match series. For England, there were two bowling heroes as well – Chris Woakes with figures of 4-47 in 9 overs and Liam Plunkett with figures of 4-40 in 8.2 overs. Woakes was devastating up front as well as towards the end.
#2 KL Rahul (India)
On a bad day with the bat for Indians on a very tough pitch, Rahul, India’s opener in the second Test against Australia at Bengaluru scored a gritty 90 facing 205 balls in an innings where the next highest score was Nair’s 26.
India eventually managed to reach only 189 and were all out in just 71.2 overs. Rahul was the ninth wicket to fall, in pursuit of some quick runs as he kept losing partners at the other end. Rahul, known for throwing his wicket away many a time in the past showed class and maturity.
He added 61 for the second wicket with Pujara but narrowly missed out on the opportunity to carry his bat right through the innings.
#1 Nathan Lyon (Australia)
If it was Steve O’Keefe in the first Test at Pune for Australia, it was Nathan Lyon at Bengaluru. On a pitch, that gave him assistance, Lyon ran through the long Indian batting line-up, giving the visitors a massive chance to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Lyon, who had 233 wickets in 64 Tests prior to this match registered his career-best figures in an innings – 22.2-4-50-8. He picked up the wickets of all but those of Abhinav Mukund and Karun Nair as India capsized from 88 for 2 and later 156 for 4 to 189 all out.
Lyon used a brown patch on the pitch outside the right-handed batsman’s off-stump beautifully to trouble them right through the day.