Unlike last year wherein the Asia Cup was held in Bangladesh and the World T20 took center-stage in India, 2017 did not contain a major T20I tournament. However, there was no shortage of action in the shortest format of the game. Including the contest between New Zealand and West Indies at the Saxton Oval in Nelson on Friday, as many as 64 T20Is took place in the calendar year.
Among those various matches, there were plenty of eye-catching efforts with both bat and ball. Encompassing the two premier departments of the game, let us relive some of the best performances in T20Is in 2017. Needless to say, only those remarkable knocks and captivating spells resulting in winning cause are taken into consideration. The strengths of opponents as well as match situations are also factored into account in order to enumerate the top five performances.
#5 Rashid Khan - 5/3 against Ireland
All of 19 years old, Rashid Khan has already established himself as one of the most dangerous spinners in the current era. 2017 only saw him go from strength to strength across both limited-overs formats. He produced a scarcely believable spell in the second T20I of the 3-match series against Ireland at Greater Noida. Riding on Najeeb Tarakai's 58-ball 90, Afghanistan managed to reach a strong total of 184 from their quota of 20 overs.
Intermittent rain curtailed Ireland's run-chase to 111 from 11 overs. At the end of the seventh over, they were positioned at 68/3 and would have fancied their chances of scoring 43 runs from the last four overs. However, their hopes were razed in a couple of devastating overs from Rashid. Utilising the googly to tremendous effect, the leg-spinner shredded Ireland's batting lineup by notching the quickest five-wicket haul of all time in international cricket. His 5/3 from two overs helped Afghanistan complete a series-sealing 17-run triumph.
#4 Asela Gunaratne - 84*(46) against Australia
When he looks back at his career in the years to come, Asela Gunaratne will have fond memories of Sri Lanka's brief limited-overs tour of Australia in early 2017. He scored back to back half-centuries to propel his team to a memorable series triumph. The second of those knocks can be construed as one of the best knocks in the history of T20Is thus far. Batting first on a flat surface at the Simonds Stadium in Geelong, Australia racked up 173 runs.
Sri Lanka's run-chase was littered with quite a few soft dismissals. Having lost half of their lineup even before the fifth over could be completed, their situation appeared extremely dire. However, Gunaratne launched a brilliant counterattack to start shifting the pressure on the hosts. The right-hander's array of audacious shots allowed the visitors to keep pace with the required run-rate. Tasked with doing all the heavy lifting by himself, he remained unbeaten on 84 from 46 deliveries and guided Sri Lanka to a thrilling victory in the last ball of the match.
#3 Yuzvendra Chahal - 6/25 against England
Before 2017, no Indian bowler had ever managed to pick up a five-wicket haul in T20Is. In a format laced with brevity, opportunities for such significant spells are usually sparse. However, Yuzvendra Chahal left everyone in disbelief by scalping as many as six wickets in a game-changing performance against England at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on February 1. His 6/25 remains the third best figures in the format's history.
Chasing a daunting target of 203 in the deciding match of the series, England were right in the middle of an engrossing contest as skipper Eoin Morgan and Joe Root brought the equation down to 86 runs from 42 balls.
Chahal, who had dismissed Sam Billings for a golden duck earlier in the game, derailed the visitors' run-chase by coming up with a stunning spell. From his last two overs, the leg-spinner scythed through the batting lineup to induce an unbelievable collapse. He operated with exemplary accuracy and used the rapidly deteriorating surface as his ally. Upon losing their last eight wickets for eight runs, England were shot out for 127.
#2 David Miller - 101*(36) against Bangladesh
When they stepped onto the Senwes Park in Potchefstroom for the final match of what had been a disastrous tour, Bangladesh were under immense scrutiny. Little did they know of further calamity that would strike them. Their already dire woes were aggravated by a marauding David Miller. Coming into bat half-way through the innings, he was reprieved on nought. The southpaw made the visitors pay by smashing the fastest T20I century.
From the first ten deliveries that he faced, Miller scored just 12 runs. What followed was unhindered destruction as he switched gears with consummate ease. Medium pacer Mohammad Saifuddin copped the worst of the South African dasher's opulent onslaught. In the penultimate over of the innings, the left-hander blasted five consecutive sixes. While he missed out on the 'full monty', Miller simply obliterated the fastest century record by getting to the landmark from just 35 balls.
Relive David Miller's record-breaking century (Video Courtesy: SuperSport)
#1 Rohit Sharma - 118 (43) against Sri Lanka
Less than two months since Miller wrote his name in the record books, Rohit Sharma followed suit by belting a 35-ball century of his own. Unlike the South African who relied on power hitting to get into the groove, the elegant right-hander put on a display of sublime stroke-play against Sri Lanka at the Holkar Stadium in Indore. Such was the quality of his timing that the ball appeared to be repeatedly caressed into the stands rather than being bludgeoned over the fence.
With Virat Kohli getting some well-deserved rest, Rohit took over the captaincy mantle for the limited-overs leg of the Sri Lanka series. In the second T20I, he registered an astonishing 165-run opening stand with KL Rahul. The stand-in skipper, who had previously hammered his third double ton in the ODI series, piled on more agony for the visiting bowlers.
Rohit's scintillating knock was laced with 12 fours and 10 sixes. He equalled Miller's record for the fastest T20I century and powered India to the joint-second highest total in the shortest format of the game. On a venue conducive for shot-making, the opener's stylish performance set the stage for the hosts to saunter to a massive 88-run victory.