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Test Of Character: Top Match Saving Knocks of 2015
Published 12/24/2015, 1:09 PM EST
The gentleman’s game is more than just the battle between a bowler and the batsman. Its very essence lies in a player’s character, such that the weak-hearted are involuntarily eased out. Each and every cricketer stepping out on the field can be an unstoppable force but what separates the men from the boys is the the heart.
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The likes of Steven Smith, Joe Root and AB de Villiers depict this very essence of the game and are hence looked upon by the cricketing faithful. The fact that they play with their ‘heart’ makes them seem unconquerable. Test cricket brings out this very character out of each and every individual stepping out in the middle and hence, its volition of toughness.
The year 2015 saw some special knocks that oozed caliber and character which grasped their side away from defeats. Here’s a look at some of these match saving knocks of 2015.
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The Caribbean side’s glory days have long deserted them but that doesn’t stop the island nation’s fighting spirit which is evident, especially in limited-over cricket. The Windies, however, are reeling behind in the longest format of the game and the likes of Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo need to step up time and again to salvage some pride and instill self-belief.
West Indies were up against the former world number one team in South Africa in their own backyard and had their task cut out. After being demolished in the 1st test at Centurion by an innings and 228 runs, the young side led by Denesh Ramdin had to desperately prove their caliber.
The second test at Port Elizabeth presented itself as an opportunity and senior player Marlon Samuels stepped up against the likes of Steyn and Morkel. Replying a stiff 417 put the board by the Proteas, the Windies found themselves 55/2, when Samuels joined opener Kraigg Brathwaite. In a scintillating third wicket partnership, Samuels slammed an excellent counter-attacking hundred, making a statement against the strong Protean bowling line up. His 101 of a 160 balls included as many as 14 boundaries.
Rain, however, played a huge role in helping the Windies save the game by washing out nearly six sessions but an excellent innings from Marlon Samuels made the mighty Proteas ponder more than they had actually thought.
In a dream run in 2015, Bangladesh cricket rose to new heights after some gutsy and spirited performances especially in the ODI format with knock-out stages of the World Cup followed by beating Pakistan, India and South Africa at home. However, the tests played by the Asian nation were far and few in between, with the most prominent one being the home series against Pakistan.
The first test played at Khulna, depicted the Bangladeshi spirit in its fullest. The match was almost out of Bangladesh’s grasp after Pakistan nearly batted them out of the game after piling on 628 runs, with 224 coming from the bat of Mohammad Hafeez in reply to Bangladesh’s first innings score of 332. However, the second innings proved to be incredibly different for the Bangladeshi batsmen.
Faced with the daunting task of saving the game by batting out nearly five sessions on a crumbling wicket against a Pakistani bowling attack, it seemed as if the team needed to bat off their skin. The openers did exactly that, as they piled on runs and at a great pace, as well. The duo of Imrul Kayes and Tamim Iqbal nearly broke the back of Pakistan’s bowling line-up as they hammered huge hundreds to defy their fellow Asian side.
With 206 from just 278 deliveries, Tamim Iqbal had never proved his caliber in a better manner as he took the attack to the Pakistani bowlers. Personally one of Tamim’s biggest match saving knocks, the mammoth opening stand weighed 312 runs as Bangladesh showed the world why they are now a side to be reckoned with.
The first test played at the SCG, since Phillip Hughes last played at that ground, was a moment of emotion for all of the cricketing world. The Aussies were determined to make amends after they had failed to win at the MCG. However, the new Indian test captain Virat Kohli was leading a side that did not back out of stern tests.
Australia did their bit to win the game after putting a lot of runs on the board. India, however, replied strongly after KL Rahul and Virat Kohli slammed special hundreds. Australia set India a high target on a crumbling SCG track which had become hard to bat on. Opener Murali Vijay, however, led the Indian fightback to defy the Aussies. His patient 255 ball 80, set the tone as India closed on saving the test and needed just a session to play out after losing just 2 wickets.
Murali Vijay was leading the charge. A minor middle order collapse gave the Aussies a big chance, but Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar batted through to see their side seek out a well-deserved draw.
In arguably one of the best knocks of 2015, young West Indian skipper Jason Holder batted sensationally to thwart an excellent English bowling attack. Batting first in the first test of the Wisden trophy, England posted 399 on the board riding on Ian Bell’s magnificent 143.
The West Indies struggled in their reply but managed to salvage 295 runs, largely due to Blackwood’s heroics after his maiden test hundred. James Anderson went past Ian Botham’s record to become the highest wicket taker for England. Putting on 333 runs in reply, England set the Windies a target of 438 runs and were successful immediately as the hosts were left reeling 155/5 and needed to bat out nearly two sessions on a fifth-day track at Antigua, against Anderson and Co.
Denesh Ramdin and Jason Holder led the charge to grind out the strong English bowling. Holder took the initiative soon and was playing an innings of a lifetime. Arguably one of his best match saving knocks, he defended and attacked with purpose in his breathtaking 103 off 149 balls as the English never saw a way through him. Holder successfully rescued the match for his side and left the English searching for answers.
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