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Another tough job, this!
With these kind of lists, one often misses out on knocks that have sent spectators into an ecstatic, cacophonic frenzy of shouts, screams, whistles and even firecrackers. The same applies to the category of magnificent bowling performances. At each and every turn, it becomes difficult to narrow things down to five outstanding pieces of brilliance.
2013 in ODIs has, for the most part, belonged to the batsmen. Be it Aaron Finch’s blazing 148 against Scotland on the back of the Ashes humiliation that Australia suffered, or Virat Kohli’s amazing purple patch, there are certain classical performances that are often overlooked. Dale Steyn’s six-wicket haul against Pakistan is an example of disciplined, hostile pace bowling, while the deeds of Misbah-ul-Haq, Glenn Maxwell and George Bailey are nothing short of heroic.
Condensing everything down into one single list of performances has required me to exercise every bit of restraint I possess, since I just didn’t want to leave anything out. The five superb performances that have been chosen are simply a snapshot of the entire year, and not just individual bits of brilliance.
5. Nawroz Mangal – 112* (Afghanistan vs Scotland, Sharjah, March 2013)
Associate nations have it rough when it comes to playing with the big boys. But when you hear of a superlative performance from a front-line batsman of a war-torn country’s cricket team, you are bound to sit up and take notice.
Nawroz Mangal played one of the best knocks of his career, and a rapid one at that. The way he went about bludgeoning the hapless Scottish bowlers evoked memories of Kevin O’Brien’s unbridled assault on England at the 2011 World Cup. It took him barely eight deliveries to move from the seventies to his maiden three-figure score, and he reached the landmark with a thumping boundary.
Undeterred by the fact that his side were already three wickets down, Mangal played out of his skin, and took the Afghans home with a little over sixteen overs to spare.
Certainly a match-winning performance from the former skipper, who has risen to the occasion more than once for his side!