20 best cricket moments of 2020: Rahul Tewatia's logic-defying IPL innings and Ben Stokes still 'Mr Incredible'

A look back on some memorable moments of the past 12 months

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The year in cricket might have had some sizeable holes in it, for obvious reasons. But the pandemic did not deprive cricket fans of their fix entirely.

There was more than enough time for players to create lasting memories, whether it be in a bio-secure bubble in the UK, at an IPL exiled to the Emirates, or in front of frenzied support in Kathmandu.

Here are 20 of the best moments cricket created either side of lockdown.

Rahul Tewatia  of Rajasthan Royals  batting during match 26 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between the Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Rajasthan Royals held at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on the 11th October 2020.  Photo by: Saikat Das  / Sportzpics for BCCI
Rahul Tewatia. Sportzpics for BCCI

1. Rahul Tewatia in Sharjah

For all the luminosity of the IPL 2020 season in exile in the UAE, much of the cricket has probably already been forgotten. Tewatia's logic-defying innings to win the game for Rajasthan Royals against Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah should live long in the memory, though. It made a journeyman cricketer a star.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Shaheen Shah Afridi of Pakistan congratulates Naseem Shah after dismissing Marcus Harris of Australia during day three of the International Tour match between Australia A and Pakistan at Optus Stadium on November 13, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Naseem Shah. Reuters

2. Naseem Shah’s hat-trick

Naseem Shah was already widely known about as a teen prodigy, when touring Australia with Pakistan last year. His effort in becoming the youngest player to take a Test hat-trick, aged just 16, against Bangladesh in February, suggested there is substance to go with the hype.

Cricket - South Africa v England - Second Test - PPC Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa - January 6, 2020   South Africa's Pieter Malan in action as England's Ben Stokes reacts   REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ben Stokes, right. Reuters

3. Ben Stokes still Mr Incredible

It needed a lot for Stokes to match his 2019 heroism, what with the World Cup final, Headingley, and all that. But he was still remarkable, in between lockdowns and compassionate leave. His high water mark was the Cape Town Test in January, when he broke catching records, score vitals runs, and forced the win with the ball.

Cricket - First Test - England v West Indies - Rose Bowl Cricket Stadium, Southampton, Britain - July 8, 2020   West Indies players kneel in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign before the match , as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)   Mike Hewitt/Pool via REUTERS
West Indies. Reuters

4. West Indies restarting cricket

West Indies did the world of sport a favour by agreeing to leave the Caribbean – where few cases of Covid had been reported – to travel to play cricket in the hot-spot that was the UK in July. They gave the summer some indelible images, too, like when captain Jason Holder led his players' support of the Black Lives Matter cause.

Kings XI Punjab Coach Anil Kumble and whole team at the dugout jumps with joy sand celebrates win over Mumbai Indians during match 36 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between the Mumbai Indians and the Kings XI Punjab held at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on the 18th October 2020.  Photo by: Samuel Rajkumar  / Sportzpics for BCCI
Kings XI Punjab. Sportzpics for BCCI

5. Double Super Over

During the first Super Over of IPL 2020, Jofra Archer tweeted: "How could you not like cricket?" It captured the mood perfectly. Sundays became the most thrilling days. On October 18, both matches were tied, and the second – between Kings XI and Mumbai Indians – needed two Super Over deciders.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 21: Shan Masood of Pakistan bats during day one of the 1st Domain Test between Australia and Pakistan at The Gabba on November 21, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Shan Masood. Getty Images

6. Shan Masood v James Anderson

The last time he toured England, Shan Masood might have feared that was him done with international cricket, such was the hold James Anderson had over him. He returned in 2020 as a player revived, though. His ton – which included navigating Anderson – at Old Trafford in August was his third in a row in Tests.

England's James Anderson (C) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Pakistan's Babar Azam for 69 in the opening over on the second day of the first Test cricket match between England and Pakistan at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England on August 6, 2020.   - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB
James Anderson. AFP

7. James Anderson’s 600

Anderson might have been briefly blunted by Masood, and generally struggled on his return to cricket following lockdown. But he found his stride by the end of the UK summer, and in August became the first seam bowler to reach 600 Test wickets

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , October 19  – 2019 :- Paul Stirling of Ireland playing a shot during the World Cup T20 Qualifiers between UAE v Ireland held at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.  ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For Sports. Story by Amith
Paul Stirling. Pawan Singh / The National

8. Stirling performance

Chasing 328 to avoid a clean-sweep against the world champions England, Ireland were written off in their ODI in Southampton. Not for the first time, they found a hero. For Kevin O’Brien at Bangalore in the 2011 World Cup, this time read Paul Stirling, who blazed 142 to bring about a remarkable win.

9. Nicolas Pooran’s gymnastics

Two of the 2020 IPL’s salient images came in the same match. Before Tewatia finished the game by launching a tirade of sixes into the road in Sharjah, Pooran had pulled off one of the most sensational pieces of fielding in the history of the sport. All to stop a six.

Cricket - Third Test - England v Pakistan - Ageas Bowl, Southampton, Britain - August 21, 2020   England's Zak Crawley reacts as he walks off at the end of play, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)   Mike Hewitt/Pool via REUTERS
Zak Crawley. Reuters

10. Zak Crawley betters Tendulkar

By the age of 22, and in his eighth Test, Crawley might have felt like he had completed cricket. His 267 in a drawn Test against Pakistan in August is higher than Sachin Tendulkar’s Test best of 248 not out.

11. Natthakan Chantam’s stop

Thailand’s leading batter was scarcely afforded a chance to show her worth after being recruited to play for Trailblazers in the Women’s T20 Challenge in Sharjah. She still caught the eye, though, via an extraordinary boundary stop in the final win against Supernovas.

Sandeep Lamichhane of Nepal bowls during the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 match between Oman and Nepal at TU Cricket Stadium on 9 Feb 2020 in Nepal
Sandeep Lamichhane. Subas Humagain for The National

12. Sandeep Lamichhane’s six-for

Nepal's first one-day international series on home soil finished in spectacular fashion in February, as they thrashed United States in record-breaking fashion in Kathmandu. Sandeep Lamichhane took 6-16 as USA were bowled out for just 35 – the joint lowest ODI score in history

Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup - Pakistan v Bangladesh - Lord's, London, Britain - July 5, 2019   Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi celebrates taking the wicket of Bangladesh's Mahmudullah   Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Shaheen Afridi. Reuters 

13. Shaheen Afridi’s four in four

Shaheen Afridi made the most of the sparing opportunities 2020 afforded by establishing himself as Pakistan’s leading all-formats bowler. But his most stunning return came in an English county T20 match in September when he took four wickets in four balls to win a game for Hampshire against Middlesex.

India's Hardik Pandya (L) and teammate Shreyas Iyer celebrate the victory as Australia's Daniel Sams (R) reacts during the second T20 cricket match between Australia and India at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on December 6, 2020.  / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE
Hardik Pandya, left. AFP

14. Hardik Pandya’s belligerence

Some pundits had India down for beatings in all three series on tour in Australia. They failed to factor in the match-winning capabilities of Hardik Pandya, who was named player of the series for his excellence in the T20s in December.

Cricket - Third Test - England v West Indies - Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - July 25, 2020    England's Stuart Broad celebrates the wicket of West Indies' Roston Chase, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)   Martin Rickett/Pool via REUTERS
Stuart Broad. Reuters

15. Stuart Broad reaches 500

Bizarre to think, now, that Stuart Broad was out of the England side when cricket restarted after lockdown, and venting his frustrating with a TV interview during a match he was not playing in. After that, he dominated the summer, and took his 500th Test wicket in the process, against West Indies in July.

Ajman, United Arab Emirates - December 02, 2020: Sport. Goltay's Ali Shan bats in the game between Inter Globe Marine v Pacific Goltay in the Ajman T10 Talent Hunt League. Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020 in Ajman. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Alishan Sharafu. Chris Whiteoak / The National

16. Alishan Sharafu’s rapid 100

Players in the Abu Dhabi T10 have spent four years trying to make a 10-over hundred. Chris Lynn, Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales … all have got close, but fallen short. A 17-year-old schoolboy managed the feat in a T10 tournament in Ajman in December. Alishan Sharafu is one to watch in UAE cricket.

Babar Azam. AFP
Babar Azam. AFP

17. Babar Azam’s champion quality

Multan Sultans dominated the Pakistan Super League. Then it shutdown because of the onset of coronavirus just as it was reaching its business stage. When it was eventually restarted, nine months later, Babar Azam owned it instead, as he took charge of both the semi-final and final to take Karachi Kings to their first title.

Cricket - Third International Twenty20 - South Africa v England - Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town, South Africa - December 1, 2020  England's Jos Buttler in action REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham
Jos Buttler. Reuters

18. Jos Buttler delivers

Only Jofra Archer has spent more time in quarantine than Jos Buttler this year. The time spent away from family might have been weighing on him during his Test struggles in the UK summer. Then he scored 75 and 113 in a comeback win over Pakistan, and all was right with the world again

19. Smriti Mandhana’s magic

Scoring on the slow Sharjah Stadium track proved tricky during the Women’s T20 Challenge in November. For all except Mandhana, it seemed. The opener smoked 68, the top score of the tournament, to set up the final win for Trailblazers.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Third International Twenty20 - South Africa v England - Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town, South Africa - December 1, 2020  England's Dawid Malan hits a six REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham/File Photo
Dawid Malan. Reuters

20. Dawid Malan’s record

It was always going to take something special to dislodge Babar Azam from the top of the T20I ratings for batsmen. In the end, it took something record-breaking. Dawid Malan's 99 not out as part of England's 3-0 clean sweep of South Africa in November brought him a rating of 915 – the highest ever recorded in T20s.