The year 2018 proved to be yet another scintillating year filled with loads of cricketing action, extraordinary feats, close finishes, and what not. In the course of the last 365 days, we also witnessed quite a few tense moments on the field where the things turned unpleasant between the two contesting teams.
What marked the year 2018 was the abundance of 'Spirit of Cricket' moments that reemphasized the evidence that cricket is well and truly a gentleman's game. To its reference, ICC recently released a few 'Spirit of Cricket Moments' which could be in the line to win the best 'Spirit of Cricket' moment at the ICC honours.
Thus, we bring you five instances which can win the ICC Spirit of Cricket Moment award for the year 2018.
Note: The moments are selected from ICC's list of top 'Spirit of Cricket' moments in 2018.
Also read: Predicting the winners of 2018 ICC awards
#5 When the world came together to support a cause
Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused tremendous devastation in many parts of the Caribbean. Plenty of people lost their homes while plenty of them lost their lives. The hurricanes cost millions of damages. Hence, in May, the Hurricane Relief T20 Challenge was played at the iconic Lord's Cricket Ground to raise funds for damaged stadiums in Anguilla and Dominica.
A comprehensive World XI led by Shahid Afridi and the West Indies led by Carlos Braithwaite happened to be the two contesting teams in the Hurricane Relief T20 Challenge. Windies won the toss and elected to bat first. Evin Lewis, Marlon Samuels, and Denesh Ramdin were the performers for Windies with the bat. On the back of these three, Windies set a mammoth target of 200 for World XI to win the fundraiser T20.
World XI crumbled with no series effort except Thisara Perera who scored 61 runs to only see the Windies winning the game by 72 runs. Evin Lewis won Man of the Match award for his excellent 58. However, cricket was the real winner as we witnessed a 'Spirit of Cricket' moment where the whole world got along together to fund the economic finances for the devastation caused to the stadiums in Anguilla and Dominica. Moreover, ICC also granted the game with an international status.
#4 When Sri Lankan players gave a lovely send-off to Rangana Herath
The legendary Sri Lankan cricketer, Rangana Herath bid adieu to cricket in November 2018. He left the beautiful game of cricket with some majestic records up his sleeve. Even at the age of 40, he produced some exceptional performances for Srilanka, especially in Test cricket.
Herath retired from international cricket with 433 Test wickets and 34 five-wicket hauls to his name - the fifth most by any player in Tests. In addition to that, with 433 Test wickets in his arsenal, he also ended as the second highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka in Tests just second to the great Muttiah Muralitharan - an exceptional feat for the left-arm spinner.
Herath got a lovely farewell as the Sri Lanka players gave him a memorable guard of honour at the start of the game. Rangana's farewell game became more remarkable as the Srilankan players carried him on the shoulders for a respectful lap of honour while parading him around the ground in recognition of his distinguished career. The moment etched everyone's hearts and filled the Sri Lankan fans' eyes with tears.
#3 When Shoaib Malik consoled distraught Aftab Alam
One of the best 'Spirit of Cricket' moments of 2018 came in a Super Four game between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the Asia Cup 2018. The game also happened to be one of the closest ODI finishes in the history of cricket as Pakistan won the high tensed game with just three wickets and three balls to spare.
After a high-pressure game between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which the latter managed to win on the back of Shoaib Malik's nerve-wrenching knock, Aftab Alam couldn't control his tears after giving away ten runs from the final over as it marked Afghanistan's exit from the Asia Cup 2018. However, Malik was quick to respond as he consoled Aftab who was down on his knees while covering his face with his hands after the defeat.
It came as a sweet gesture from the Pakistani legend as the fans appreciated the sportsman spirit displayed by Shoaib Malik. He also was awarded the man of the match for the brilliant knock that took Pakistan over the line.
#2 When Sir Alastair Cook received a guard of honour from the Indian team
Sir Alastair Cook, England's one of the greatest ever batsmen and captains, happened to be one of the few legends who hung up his boots in the year 2018. The Knighthood dropped down the curtains in September 2018 when England played their fifth and final Test against India at the Oval in London.
He ended his decade-long career on a high as he hit an outstanding century in his final game and became one of the few players to score a century in his debut and farewell game.
Joe Root won the toss and decided to bat as Sir Cook and Jennings walked out of the dressing room to only see the Indian team waiting to give the English legend a remarkable guard of honour while remembering his excellent career.
It came as a symbol of respect from Virat Kohli and men as the Englishmen shook hands with Kohli before starting the proceedings of Day 1. The farewell game became much more memorable for Cook as he ended his career with a victory in the final game.
#1 When Ajinkya Rahane requested the Afghanistan team to pose with the trophy
The year 2018 saw Afghanistan cricket team rising through the ranks while giving some fierce competitions to the top-ranked nations. It proved to be a memorable 12-month journey for Afghanistan.
However, what made 2018 more memorable for Afghanistan was their debut Test game that played against India in June 2018. They became one of the two nations to achieve the Test status in 2018.
Although they lost their maiden Test, they had plenty to learn from their debut Test appearance in international cricket. Besides, a sweet gesture from Ajinkya Rahane, who was the stand-in captain for India in the historic Test, made the debut Test a lifetime experience for Afghans.
After having defeated the Afghans by 262 runs in their maiden Test, Rahane called the whole Afghanistan team to pose for a picture with the trophy together. It went down as one of the sweetest 'Spirit of Cricket in the history of cricket. The fans and the pundits all over the world appreciated Ajinkya Rahane for his kind gesture towards the Afghanistan team.