LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Fakhar Zaman of Pakistan celebrates his century during the ICC Champions trophy cricket match between India and Pakistan at The Oval in London on June 18, 2017 (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

It has been a fantastic year of cricket. Pakistan shocked the world as they won the Champions Trophy, while it was brilliant to see Afghanistan and Ireland receiving their Test status. Other highlights included Zimbabwe’s spirited 3-2 series win over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh beating Australia in the first Test. As well as these team efforts, there have been some exceptional individual performances. This article counts down the top five individual performances of 2017.
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5. Trent Boult’s 7/34 against the West Indies

Earlier this month New Zealand quick Trent Boult produced a phenomenal spell as he dismantled the West Indies. Admittedly he was not playing against a strong side, but some of the deliveries he produced were unplayable. One such example was the gem he bowled to Kyle Hope, which pitched outside off and swung back to crash into the top of off. As well as bowling consistently in the channel, which earned him the wicket of Shimron Hetmyer, Boult produced some nasty short balls at quick pace. Indeed, the Christchurch wicket was conducive to short bowling, providing extra bounce. Boult made the most of this and claimed three of his wickets from short balls, with his rising deliver to Sheldon Cottrell being virtually unplayable. The left-armer crossed 200 ODI wickets during this spell and it was certainly one of the highlights of 2017. It was also his career best bowling figures. Another of his ODI performances was also in close contention, when he took 6-33 against Australia.
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4. Rohit Sharma’s 208* against Sri Lanka

It was tough choosing which Rohit Sharma innings to pick, with his record-breaking T20 hundred against Sri Lanka also in the mix. Both were fantastic performances, but I chose his unbeaten 208 in the Second ODI based on the context of the match. Virat Kohli, the usual captain, was absent from the series as he was on personal leave to get married. This meant that Rohit assumed the captaincy, but he had a dreadful start. In the First ODI, India slumped to an atrocious 29/7 and were eventually bowled out for 112. Sri Lanka chased down this target with ease. As a result there was a huge amount of pressure on Rohit and India to deliver, which he did in style. He had a nervy start, but soon settled down and brought up his hundred in 115 balls. His second hundred came in just 36 deliveries. This was a record-breaking third ODI double hundred and he hit 13 fours and 12 sixes in his marathon innings. Rohit set up India’s 141 run win which gave India the momentum heading into the decisive Third ODI, which his side went on to win.
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3. Steve Smith and Alastair Cook: Ashes Double Hundreds

Joint at number three are Australian captain Steve Smith and England opener Alastair Cook for their Ashes double hundreds. This year’s Ashes series has not been the most enthralling, with the first three Tests being exceptionally one-sided. However, in the on-going fourth Test, England are fighting back. This has been made possible by a superb innings from Alastair Cook. The former captain came in on the afternoon session of Day Two and set about picking off Australia’s first innings score of 327. Cook batted the day in tough conditions, watching Mark Stoneman and James Vince fall before settling down with captain Joe Root. By stumps on the second day Cook had reached a much-needed hundred, bouncing back after a dismal run of form. However, the left-hander did not stop there. Cook proceeded to grind his way to a remarkable double hundred and batted the whole of Day Three, reaching stumps unbeaten on 244. With James Anderson at the other end, and with a lead of 164, it is unclear how long he will be able to bat for. Either way it has brought some grace back to the England cricket team and has restored England’s faith in their stalwart opener.
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Australian skipper Steve Smith produced an equally remarkable innings earlier on in the series, in the Third Test at Perth. After England posted a sizeable first innings total of 403, Smith came in at the precarious position of 55-2. Smith, though, took matters in his own hands and hit a magnificent double hundred which set up Australia’s innings win. He spent close to 600 minutes at the crease, as he flayed the English bowling attack to all parts of the ground. England have struggled to bowl to Smith, and after this innings he extended his lead at the top of the ICC Test Rankings. His points total is now the joint second highest in history, behind the great Don Bradman.

2. Fakhar Zaman’s 114 in the Champions Trophy Final

Pakistan’s victory over India in the Champions Trophy Final was one of the best underdog stories of the year. They were the lowest ranked side coming into the tournament, ranked below Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. However, they put in some spirited performances and thrashed England in the semi-finals, winning by eight wickets. After India beat Bangladesh in the other semi, it set up the perfect final of Pakistan against India. Although India were the firm favourites, it was a dominant batting display that ultimately handed Pakistan the win.

Pakistan racked up a hefty total of 338/4 after Fakhar Zaman hit his maiden ODI century to lead the charge. Zaman, who made his debut at the start of the tournament, played a sublime knock under immense pressure. Admittedly he had a lot of luck as he was caught behind on three, but Jaspirit Bumrah had accidentally bowled a front foot no-ball. As he returned to the crease, he set about making Bumrah pay for his error. Fakhar then looked comfortable against the Indian attack, reaching his fifty in sixty balls. He then went up a gear and proceeded to reach his first ODI hundred in just 92 balls. It was this innings which gave Mohammad Hafeez the platform to tee off and propel Pakistan to a match winning total. The opener was rightly awarded with the title of man of the match for his superb innings, which helped stun the cricketing world.
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1. Rashid Khan’s 7/18 against the West Indies

Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan has had an incredible year. The 19 year old has risen to fame and has made a name for himself after a very strong performance in the IPL. He has earned a reputation for having a vicious googly and earned a well-deserved Big Bash League contract with the Adelaide Strikers. Khan has taken four wickets in his first two games in the tournament so far. However, despite all this success in franchise cricket, his real highlight this year was taking 7/18 against the West Indies in the First ODI between the sides.

It was his googly that did most of the damage, as he bowled wrong’uns to dismiss Roston Chase and West Indies captain Jason Holder for ducks. None of the West Indies batsmen could work out how to play him and he was unstoppable. After two overs Rashid had figures of 2-1-1-4 and went on to take the fourth best ODI figures in the history of the game. Chaminda Vaas, the Sri Lankan medium pacer, currently holds the record with his 8/19 against Zimbabwe. Part of the reason that Khan’s spell was so special was that it came after Afghanistan had lost three consecutive T20s and he dedicated his man of the match award to the victims of the Kabul bombing. This young, talented spinner has a huge career ahead of him.

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