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Five best matches of the summer

20 March 2012 16

What was your favourite cricket match of the summer? Here are five contenders

Commonwealth Bank ODI Series, Sri Lanka v India, Blundstone Arena, February 28

The one-day series was hailed by many as the best-ever contested on these shores, with India, Sri Lanka and Australia providing plenty of bang for the buck; think of Australia’s 16-run win in the third final or Sri Lanka’s victory over Australia at the MCG. But if you had to pick one game to rule them all, it would be India's victory over Sri Lanka in Hobart. Batting first, Tillakaratne Dilshan (160 from 165 balls including 11 fours and three sixes) and Kumar Sangakkara (105 from 87 including eight fours and two sixes) smashed the Sri Lankans into a seemingly unbeatable position: India would require 322 from 50 overs. In fact, they only needed 36.4 overs as Virat Kohli hit 133 runs from 86 balls, including 16 fours and two sixes, in one of the batting performances of the summer.

Vodafone First Test, Australia v India, MCG, December 26

The final day of Australia’s seven-run loss to New Zealand in Hobart was more compelling while Michael Clarke’s triple century in Sydney was the season’s individual highlight, but the Boxing Day Test delivered ups and downs over its duration. Given plenty of new faces and a recent history of erratic performances, Australia, at the moment of the first Test, could have produced anything. When they were 4-127 at the start of the second innings it appeared another Johannesburg or Hobart was on the cards. Instead the tail wagged, then the Aussie bowlers did something fans saw little of during the last Ashes series: they ripped through a highly-rated batting order to win the match.

KFC T20 Big Bash, Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers, SCG, January 18

The two teams that would meet in the inaugural Big Final also produced the stand-out match of BBL 1.0. The Sixers racked up an imposing 176, including eight sixes and 10 fours, thanks largely to Nic Maddinson’s 49 from 31 balls and Steve Smith’s 51 from 25. Perth captain and opener Marcus North led from the front with 59 to set up a dramatic finish. The Scorchers required 13 runs from the final over, to be delivered by Brett Lee. A single, followed by a boundary, followed by a single, followed by Nathan Coulter-Nile playing on from a no-ball, followed by a wide meant that Perth needed three runs to win from the last ball of the match. Coulter-Nile drove the ball long and the Scorchers ran one, but with North heading for the second to level the match he was run out by a Steve Smith return to Lee.

WNCL Final, NSW v Victoria Spirit, SCG, January 14

New South Wales found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 2-2 in the Women’s National Cricket League final against Victoria. But they dragged themselves off the canvas thanks to a brilliant 144-run third-wicket stand between Lisa Sthalekar and Rachael Haynes. Haynes finished with 156 from 139 balls including 20 fours and two sixes, helping the Breakers to
7-310. In reply, and after losing Meg Lanning early, Jessica Cameron and Elyse Villani put on 103 runs at nearly a run a ball to get Victoria back into the reckoning. When Cameron was caught, Villani and Sarah Elliott threatened to continue the good work with a 45-run stand. But Villani’s dismissal sparked a collapse from which Victoria didn’t recover and NSW won the final by 70 runs.

Bupa Sheffield Shield final, Queensland v Tasmania, ‘Gabba, March 23-26

At the start of the final round of Shield matches, it was possible for any of the top four teams to feature in the final. The Bulls, front-runners for the first half of the season and no-hopers for much of the second half, qualified as hosts to Tasmania, the defending champions boasting Test stars Ricky Ponting and Ed Cowan. The match was first-class cricket at its best, in that everything that happened in the first three days set-up the drama of day four. Chasing 133 for victory, Queensland incredibly lost 4-0 to be reeling at 7-88. But Steve Magoffin (26 not out) and Chris Hartley (19 not out), who in the first innings had added a crucial 97-run stand, guided the Bulls to a seventh Shield title.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
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