The ten-year cycle is about to end and we are gradually moving towards a new decade. And, so it is a good time to reflect on the years went by and delve on some of the most unforgettable moments of the decade. It was an eventful decade; one that threw up so many moments of joy, ecstasy, heartbreak, and tears.
And, it is very difficult to choose, considering we have had a plethora of such moments in the past ten years? Who can forget that moment when Sachin Tendulkar walked out to bat for the very last time in 2013 or when Carlos Brathwaite smoked those sixes off Ben Stokes in the T20 WC final or that guttural roar by Yuvraj as he cover-drove India to a semi-final spot in 2011 or in the recent times, the madness that was the 2019 World Cup final.
This article aims at reliving one memorable moment for each team between 2010 and 2019.
Australia- Retaining the urn on English soil for the first time since 2001
Australia won a World Cup on home soil in 2015, but that was really nothing new. The Aussies have a cabinet full of 50-over World Cups. And, while the trophy still remains the pinnacle, it doesn’t excite the Aussies anymore.
What concerned the Aussies for 18 years was the fact every time their much-celebrated teams had gone to England and had failed to retain the coveted urn- the Ashes. That all changed in the summer of 2019!
What the likes of Ricky Ponting (2005 & 2009) and Michael Clarke (2013 & 2015) couldn’t do, Tim Paine and side did! Steve Smith (774 runs in 4 Tests) batted like a man possessed while the pace attack of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and James Pattinson was too hot to handle for the poms as Australia finally shrugged off the heartbreak of previously failed tours and while the series ended at 2-2, it was enough for the entire nation to rejoice in Ashes glory.
Sri Lanka- Winning the T20 World Cup in 2014
2007 World Cup, 2009 WT20,2011 World Cup, and 2012 WT20 at home — Can you find a common theme running in all these tournaments? All of these tournaments saw Sri Lanka finish at the second-best side.
On some occasions, they were pummelled, while on others they competed, and sometimes even looked like winning it, before eventually getting blown away by the individual brilliance of opposition cricketers like MS Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir in 2011 or Marlon Samuels in 2012 in what was a home final.
Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara were part of each of those heart-wrenching defeats. But, years of heartbreak and a plethora of instances where they ended up being so-close-yet-so-far, the duo finally had their moment of glory when the Lankans defeated India in the 2014 T20 World Cup finals in Dhaka.
Having endured numerous individual brilliance from the opposition players, it was time for Sri Lanka to return the favor as their bowlers- led by Lasith Malinga– put the stranglehold on Yuvraj Singh and other Indian batsmen even as Virat Kohli was watching helplessly from the other end. Kumar Sangakkara’s calm and collected innings helped Sri Lanka breach India’s underwhelming total.
Mahela, Sanga based in glory along with their teammates and Virat Kohli- the Player of the tournament- summed it up beautifully when he said, “God was really smiling on Sri Lanka’.
New Zealand- 2015 World Cup semi-finals
When the decade started, New Zealand was struggling as a cricketing nation. Underwhelming form of the senior cricketers and the tussle between Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum on issues like captaincy meant they even lost to Bangladesh 0-4 in 2010.
That all changed when Brendon McCullum took over the reins of the side. McCullum had an aggressive mindset. And, that showed in his captaincy. The Kiwi captain instilled a cutting edge to the set-up and suddenly New Zealand was the most watchable and talked about team in the world.
Their popularity, as well as their performances, peaked during the 2015 World Cup, a tournament which even though they didn’t end up winning, but no one would argue from the fact that New Zealand was clearly the best side.
And, it reached its zenith during the semi-finals against South Africa when Grant Eliott smokes that match-winning six off Dale Steyn to help New Zealand chase down the target to send the entire nation into a frenzy. That heartbreak of 1992 semi-final was finally avenged. But, the moment of the match and surely one of the defining pictures of the decade was of Grant Elliot offered his hand to a dejected, heartbroken, shocked Dale Steyn.
South Africa- Beating England in England (2012) to become the No.1 rank Test side in the world
‘Memorable moment for South Africa? Seriously? After all the heartbreaks they have witnessed- 2011 WC Quarter-final, 2015 WC semi-final, group-stage exit in the recent World Cup- did they even had something to cheer about in the decade, you’d say”
Well! That’s in white-ball cricket. In Test cricket, South Africa had plenty to be joyful about ranging from beating India by an innings in Nagpur 2010 to defeating Australia Down Under on two separate instances (2012-13 & 2016) to winning the Test maze for the first time in 2012.
And, their peak has got to be their 2-0 annihilation of England in their own backyard in 2012; one that helped them leapfrog the Three Lions from the numero uno spot as far as ICC Test rankings were concerned.
England- Winning the 2019 World Cup
It was unthinkable a few years ago. England and World Cup in the same breath, eh? Naah! Not with their medieval mindset! That all changed in 2015. And, since then England has transformed into white-ball cricket trendsetters.
It all really started to change in the immediate aftermath of England’s embarrassing but not shocking exit from the 2015 World Cup. Eoin Morgan and Trevor Bayliss broke the layers of shackles that English cricket had surrounded itself in white-ball cricket. Out came the aggressive mindset, and soon England transformed from a limping bullock cart to a whirlwind Ferrari on a fast lane.
And, it peaked in the recently concluded World Cup on home soil where after years of heartbreak and enduring that feeling of being so-near-yet-so-far, Morgan’s men finally lift the trophy in sensational circumstances on that eventful afternoon of July 14.
West Indies- T20 World Cup win in 2016
“Carlos Braithwaite …Carlos Brathwaite…Remember the name!!!” That guttural roar by Ian Bishop as Carlos Brathwaite smoked that T20 WC-winning six off Ben Stokes in front of raucous Eden Garden crowd of that eventful night of April 2016 is now a part of cricketing folklore.
Needing 19 off the last six balls, Carlos Brathwaite pulled off an innings for the sixes when he pummeled Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to lead his to their second World T20 title. After Brathwaite stroked that winning six, the men from the Caribbean went into a frenzy and pulled off their dancing skills on Bravo’s song ‘Champion’.
It was a double whammy for West Indian cricket that day. Their women’s team had also defeated Australia in the finals and the sight of all of them celebrating in unison was certainly a moment to remember, not only for the West Indies but also for cricket fans from around the world.
Pakistan- Defeating arch-rivals India in Champions Trophy 2017 Final
It is something that ardent Pakistani fans still watch on a loop, considering how dismal their team has been performing in recent times. And, to be fair, you can’t fault them. It happens when all you are expecting is defeat and then, all of a sudden, your team pulls out a once-in-lifetime-performance to overwhelm arch-rivals India, that too in the final of an ICC event.
India dominated Pakistan throughout the decade but that Champions Trophy was not their day. Pakistan, riding on a sensational century from Fakhar Zaman and a match-winning spell by Mohammed Amir– one that saw him break India’s back as he claimed the top-3 in Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan- proceeded to shock the Men in Blue and take the final by a margin of 180 runs.
And, nothing summed up the occasion perfectly than Nasser Hussain’s words at the dismissal of Virat Kohli, “Pakistan cricket at its best, one minute down, next minute up”
Bangladesh beat India in a series in 2015
Bangladesh, their struggles in Test cricket notwithstanding, continued to evolve in white-ball formats. From qualifying for the World Cup quarterfinals in 2015 to reaching the semifinals of the 2017 Champions Trophy and multiple Asia Cup finals, Bangladesh are no longer pushovers in the shorter formats of the game.
As mentioned above, the Asian tigers had a multitude of memorable moments to remember, but nothing can beat the high that the cricket-mad nation experienced when they defeated India in a bilateral ODI series in the summer of 2015. Before that Bangladesh had beaten India in one-off encounters, but never in a full-fledged series.
That all changed in 2015 as a young Mustafizur Rahman announced himself- to an absolute shock of the Indians- by claiming back-to-back five-wicket-hauls as the hosts wrapped up the 3-match series by winning the first two games by 79 runs and six wickets, kickstarting wild celebrations across the country.
Afghanistan- Gaining Test status
The evolution of Afghanistan cricket and the giant strides that they have taken this decade is one of the great success stories, not only in cricket but in life in general. It’s a great case study on how one should never give up amidst all the odds and continue to pursue what on some occasions might look like an impossible.
Having started at the Division 05 stage back in 2007-08, Afghanistan thanks to a plethora of precariously talented cricketers and their unrelenting desire to succeed, swiftly moved up the ladder and after a valiant attempt in the 2011 WC Qualifiers finally made their debut in the quadrennial event four years later in 2015.
But the ultimate dream was released in 2017 when the ICC awarded both Afghanistan and Ireland the right to be called a Test nation.
India- 2011 World Cup win at home
The 2018-19 series win in Australia will go down as one of Indian cricket’s biggest achievements. Years of blood, sweat, and toil was finally rewarded with a 2-1 series win as the Men in Blue became the first Asian team to win a Test series Down Under.
For an ardent cricket fan, no moment could be bigger than the high of winning a Test series in Australia. But, even if we were to count- the moment of the decade for Team India- it is still difficult to move past that historic night of April 02, 2011 when MS Dhoni smoked Nuwan Kulasekara into what looked like oblivion to send the entire nation into a frenzy.
Tendulkar’s dream was finally achieved. India’s dream was finally achieved. People revealed in ecstasy across the country; cricketers shed tears of joy on the field. Those were pure raw emotions.
Ireland- Beating England to pull-off the highest run-chase in World Cup history.
Chasing a target in excess of 300 is one thing, chasing it in a world cup fixture against a bowling attack that has reduced you to 5-111, is a different kettle of fish altogether. You need something extraordinary. You need something so special that it not only befuddles you but also proceeds to leave your opponent gobsmacked.
And England was gobsmacked by a certain Kevin O’ Brien that March evening in 2011. In what can only be defined as a whirlwind assault from Kevin O’Brien. The all-rounder smoked the English to all corners of the Chinnaswamy to the tune of 113 off just 63 balls, as Ireland did the unthinkable by chasing down the record target of 328, to send their crowd as well as the players in an utter frenzy, and their counterparts- in complete shock!
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- West Indies
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