2015 was definitely a year to savor for the batsmen. For the first half of the year, bowlers seemed to be like an extinct breed, who just bowled in order to complete the balance of the game. With over 6 team totals in excess of 400, ODI’s indeed were not the ideal territory for the bowlers.
Viewers in the previous year witnessed batting like never before! AB De Villiers, the South African run machine played some knocks that just didn’t seem human. 149 off 44 balls; 162* off 66 balls; 119 off 61 balls. These freakish numbers are just three of the knocks played by AB De Villiers in 2015!
However, there were some priceless knocks played in 2015 that just didn’t get their deserved credit. At times, it becomes essential to not just judge an innings by the number of runs scored or the strike rate at which the runs are scored. Rather, it becomes imperative to take into account the conditions in which the innings was played, and the game scenario, in which some batsmen rescued their teams. Batting isn’t only about peaking individual milestones, but even considering the external environment in which some low profile knocks are played.
In this article, we browse through 5 highly underrated knocks of 2015, which we feel just didn’t get their due credit and appreciation.
5. Nick Compton (85, 49 vs South Africa – Durban):
Beginning with a test innings, it is only fair to appreciate the significance of Compton’s priceless knock in the Boxing Day test against South Africa. Put into bat on the first morning, the pressure was on the English batsmen to negate the ever furious South African bowlers. After losing skipper Alastair Cook early, Nick Compton had to steady the ship. Compton was already under grueling pressure, as he was making his comeback after almost spending 30 months in the wilderness. Compton scored 85 in the first innings off 236 deliveries. More than the runs, however, it was his presence at the top which made the other batsmen comfortable. The likes of Root and Taylor settled around with Compton negating the venom of the Proteas pacers. It was due to his solid knock that England managed a healthy first innings score, which had an influence on the outcome of the game.
4. Rohit Sharma (138 vs Australia – Melbourne):
There are very few things classier in life other than the willow of Rohit Sharma in full flow. Precisely, viewers witnessed an absolute spectacle from Sharma against Australia at the MCG during the Carlton Mid Tri-Series. This was an underrated knock, though, as it came against a champion bowling attack. Mitchell Starc was in full steam during that series and Sharma countered him just about perfectly. It was solely due to Sharma’s 138 that India could reach a respectable 267-8 in 50 overs. Sharma’s brilliance went in vain, as Australia narrowly won the match. The game, though, will be cherished upon for the absolutely genius of Rohit Sharma.
3. AB De Villiers (112 vs India – Chennai):
De Villiers without second thoughts is the most versatile batsman of this era. On some days, he can demolish any bowler with his unorthodox batting and on others, he can grind it out in the middle and single-handedly take his team to glory. Chasing a daunting 300 to win in the extreme heat of Chennai, De Villiers played a heroic knock of 112 against India. The South African captain found no support from the other batsmen and he single-handedly countered the menacing Indian spinners. Despite struggling from cramps and dehydration, De Villiers gave it his absolute best, but unfortunately for him, India won the match.
2. MS Dhoni (92 vs South Africa – Indore):
This knock was very similar to the innings played by De Villiers in Chennai. However, the difference was that Dhoni scored 92 off 86 in the first innings, and more significantly, in a winning cause. At one stage, the hosts were reduced to 124-6, with Dhoni joining Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 30th over. If India were to get to any defendable total, it was simply Dhoni who would have to do something extraordinary. Battling poor form, Dhoni reminded fans of the good old days when he anchored and finished the innings in style. Due to Dhoni’s blinder, India got to 247-9 in the 50 overs. Dhoni batted exceptionally with the tail to guide India to a defendable total. Inspired by the skipper’s heroics, the Indian bowlers later dismantled the Proteas batting to clinch the game by 22 runs.
1. Brendon McCullum (59 vs South Africa – Auckland):
By far, this is the most underrated knock of 2015! The first semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2015 will always be recalled for Grant Elliot’s heroics in finishing the game successfully for New Zealand. However, very few recollect the blazing start which skipper Brendon McCullum provided New Zealand with. Chasing a treacherous 298 to win in 43 overs against a bowling attack comprising of Steyn, Morkel, Tahir, and Philander; the start was always crucial. McCullum shattered the confidence of Dale Steyn from the very first over as Steyn’s first spell yielded 39 runs for New Zealand in the three overs he bowled. McCullum went all guns blazing and it was a once in a generation knock from Bazz. He was dismissed for 59, but he scored them in just 26 balls. This gave the middle order batsmen the freedom to take their time and settle. Had McCullum not played this blinder, South Africa would have been on the road to Melbourne to play the all important final. McCullum’s efforts meant that New Zealand won the game with just 1 ball to spare and it undoubtedly was an underrated effort from McCullum.