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Cricket
Karun’s 303*, Virat’s 235, Stokes’ 258: Top 7 Test Knocks of 2016

by Bhavesh Bhimani

2016 was a great year for Test cricket. Countless unforgettable batting performances all through the twelve months made this one of the most colorful and dazzling years for the longer format.

While there were quite a few special Test knocks in 2016, The Quint picked the best seven from the lot. Take a look.


 

Karun Nair (India): 303* v England at Chennai, December 2016

 

The highest individual Test score of the year came right at the end of it. 24-year-old Karun Nair, playing just his third Test, went on to become only the second Indian to score a triple hundred after Virender Sehwag. Coming in to bat at No. 5, Nair was a little jittery initially. After he completed his maiden hundred, he opened up and displayed a range of shots that clobbered the English bowlers into submission.

What was really striking about this stunning performance was that Nair was batting on 71 when he began the fourth day’s and went on to smash a whopping 232 more runs in a single day’s play before India declared. Playing the sweep, the reverse sweep and the upper cut with panache – traits of a modern-day batsman – Nair made his way to a sensational unbeaten 303, which eventually helped India win the match by an innings and 75 runs.

This astonishing performance also meant that Nair became only the third player in Test history – Gary Sobers and Bob Simpson being the other two – to convert his maiden Test century into a triple hundred.

Ben Stokes (England): 258 v South Africa at Cape Town, January 2016

 

England’s Ben Stokes played one of the most incredible counter-attacking Test knocks in recent times as he blew the South Africans away to smithereens on a true Cape Town wicket.

Coming in with his team in a slight spot of bother at 167-4, Stokes showed why he is one of the most dangerous all-rounders around as he demolished the bowlers with nonchalance. He hit on the up, cut, pulled and smote every single bowler with savage disdain to bring up the then second-fastest double century in Test history. Stokes eventually fell on a career-best 258 – his third Test hundred – off 198 balls with 30 fours and 11 sixes.

 

Virat Kohli (India): 235 v England at Mumbai, December 2016

 

India’s Test captain was in the form of his life this year. And India’s fourth Test against England at Mumbai saw one of his very best Test specials. While chasing England’s first innings score of 400 on a bouncy track, Kohli played fluently all the way through and displayed his trademark cover drives, on-drives and flicks with elan.

Even when India were on a tricky position at 307-6, Kohli, in the company of Jayant Yadav, kept punishing the bowlers with ridiculous ease. He went on to score a glorious career-best 235. This helped India post a mammoth 631 and then win the game by an innings and 36 runs.

Azhar Ali (Pakistan): 302* v West Indies at Dubai, October 2016

 

A triple hundred, even on a flat wicket, is always an exceptional effort. Pakistani opener Azhar Ali showed amazing composure and grit to become only the fourth player from his country to score a Test triple-hundred in this day-night Test.

Azhar smashed around the hapless West Indian attack And even while the pink ball was seaming around under lights, he never got bogged down. He anchored the Pakistan first innings throughout and helped them amass 579-3 (declared). Solid, compact, assured, and classy, Azhar’s unbeaten 302 was a classic Test innings and helped Pakistan win the match by 56 runs.

Brendon McCullum (New Zealand): 145 v Australia at Christchurch, February 2016

 

Playing his last international match, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum once again showed why he is one of the most destructive forces as he smashed the fastest Test hundred.

At 74-4, New Zealand were struggling while batting first on a spicy pitch. But then McCullum came in and simply began blasting the bowlers around. Wielding his willow viciously, he flayed every Australian bowler – even taking Mitchell Starc for 21 runs in an over – and coasted to his 12th Test century off just 54 balls. This sensational effort broke West Indian legend Vivian Richards’s 20-year old 56-ball hundred record.

McCullum’s spectacular assault ended at 145 off 79 balls, with 21 fours and six sixes. While New Zealand lost the match, it was McCullum’s tremendous effort which remained the talking point.

 

Kusal Mendis (Sri Lanka): 176 v Australia at Pallekele, July 2016

 

Recording the second-highest maiden century by a Sri Lanka batsman, 21-year old Kusal Mendis smashed his way to a magnificent 176 against a robust Australian attack in Pallekele.

After being shot out for just 117 in the first innings and restricting the visitors to 203, Sri Lanka needed to score big in their second foray. And even as wickets kept falling around him, young Mendis displayed superb composure to lead his team’s fightback. He played sublime strokes all round the wicket and pulled, flicked, swept and cut with style to become the second-youngest player to score 150-plus in Tests against Australia. Mendis struck 21 fours and one six for his terrific 176 and eventually helped his team win the match by 106 runs.

 

Asad Shafiq (Pakistan): 137 v Australia at Brisbane, December 2016

 

Although this came in a losing cause, it was undeniably the best Test performance of the year. Pakistan were on the ropes on this day-night Test after being scuttled out for 142 in their first innings while chasing Australia’s score of 429. They were then set an improbable target of 490 to chase in the final two days.

The visitors looked in the doldrums at 173-5. But then Asad Shafiq, coming at No. 6, turned things around dramatically. Showing resolute defense and tenacity, playing crisp strokes throughout and leaving the moving ball superbly under lights, Shafiq made his way to an outstanding century – the 10th of his career.

Playing well with the tail, Shafiq brought his team tantalizingly close to the target. But a real snorter from Mitchell Starc ended his remarkable effort on 137. Pakistan were then bowled out for 450 – one of the highest ever fourth-innings total in Tests, just 39 short of the target. It was a very special knock, regardless, and allowed Pakistan to lose with some grace.

 

 

 

 

 

The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of World Views Pakistan

 

Courtsey:-the quint. https://www.thequint.com/sports/2016/12/31/top-7-test-cricket-innings-of-2016-karun-nair-303-virat-kohli-235-ben-stokes-258-india-australia-pakistan-england