Three interesting games give us our five top cricketers of the week. South Africa thumped Sri Lanka 5-0 in the ODI series, India amassed a massive 687 against Bangladesh and Australia lost an ODI series in New Zealand 0-2.
As usual, there were quite a few centuries from the batsmen but more heartening was the lone stand-out performance by a bowler in the harsh ODI conditions for their ilk.
Let us look at the top cricketers and what they exactly did. Murali Vijay misses out despite hitting a century and so does Quinton de Kock who scored a sublimely flamboyant 87-ball 109. Tharanga and Gunaratne, two centurions in a losing cause for Sri Lanka, also miss out.
#1 Faf du Plessis
In the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka at Cape Town, Faf du Plessis smashed a 141-ball 185 after walking in at 3/1 in the second over when South Africa lost Hashim Amla. Du Plessis scored his runs at a strike-rate of 131.20 and hit 16 fours and three sixes. He was eventually out in the final over of the innings, probably missing out on an opportunity to score a double ton, which would have made history for South Africa.
Faf’s ton pushed South Africa to a humongous total of 367 in their 50 overs. And despite Sri Lanka chasing valiantly, on the back of Upul Tharanga’s 90-ball 119 and a 139-run opening partnership that came in just 16 overs, South Africa held their nerve and eventually won the game by 40 runs.
Sri Lanka were in the hunt until quite late when they were 307 for 4 in the 44th over. But they collapsed to 327 all out, handing the Proteas the win.
#2 Hashim Amla
Amla starred in South Africa’s 11th consecutive ODI win with a 134-ball 154 laced with 15 fours and 5 sixes in the fifth ODI against Sri Lanka at Centurion. The magnificent innings that came along with an 187-run opening partnership with Quinton de Kock pushed South Africa to 384 for 6 in their 50 overs making them the team with most 350-plus totals in ODIs, one more than India’s 23.
Amla, who didn’t get as much strike as would be expected for an opener was eventually dismissed in the 49th over but not before he pushed South Africa to a virtually impregnable total. Sri Lanka never recovered from a bad start that saw them drop to 82 for 5 in 13.1 overs even though Asela Gunaratne’s unbeaten 114 pushed them to some respectability. They scored 296 losing the game by 80 runs.
#3 Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli’s juggernaut just doesn’t seem to stop as he scored a delightful 204 against Bangladesh in just 246 balls at a strike-rate of 82.92 in the lone Test at Hyderabad. That made him the first batsman in Test cricket’s long history to score double centuries in four successive Test series overtaking Rahul Dravid and Don Bradman, who had double tons in three consecutive series.
Along with centurions Wriddhiman Saha (who scored an unbeaten 106) and Murali Vijay (who scored 108), Kohli helped push India’s total to a colossal 687 for 6 declared in just 166 overs. This inning also made India the first team to post three consecutive 600-plus totals in Test cricket. Virat has also converted his last five 100s to 150-plus scores, a phenomenal achievement in itself.
#4 Ross Taylor
Australia is never an easy opponent to perform against but New Zealand did exceptionally well to wrap the three-match ODI series in the first two games. In the third ODI, however, at Hamilton, New Zealand were off to a bad start but were rescued by Dean Brownlie and later Ross Taylor.
Taylor walked in at 76 for 2 in the 15th over and scored a quick-fire 107 off just 101 balls with 13 fours. He added 100 for the third wicket with opener Brownlie and made sure New Zealand don’t lose their way despite losing four wickets for 33 runs between the 32nd and 40th over.
Eventually, the Kiwis managed 281 in 50 overs against a bowling attack that had Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, who conceded 63 runs but took 3 wickets. In reply, Australia were all out for 257 in 47 overs. This was Taylor’s 16th ODI century equalling the record for most centuries by a New Zealander set by Nathan Astle.
#5 Trent Boult
On a good batting deck at Hamilton in the third ODI against Australia, Trent Boult produced a Man of the Match performance with figures of 6/33 in just 10 overs against an impressive Australian batting line-up. Boult picked up the wickets of in-form Peter Handscomb and Travis Head before cleaning up the Australian lower order.
The pacer dented the chase big-time with his wickets of Travis Head, who had scored 53 and then Faulkner in the space of 4 deliveries in the 33rd over. Australia never recovered and were behind the game from there on – eventually falling short by only 24 runs. The 27-year-old even managed to sneak in a maiden over as his economy of 3.3 was by far the lowest in the match.