Cricket is a sport that evokes a thousand emotions. Every year, one as a fan of a particular team or player, witnesses some memorable wins and some memorable losses. On one corner, a team or players falls from grace, while on the other side, one makes a miraculous comeback remembered for ages.
2022 was no different. There were some inspiring stories of comebacks made this year as well. Let us have a look at them:
1). Hardik Pandya rises to superstardom after leading Gujarat Titans to maiden IPL win
Enter year 2022, many had written of this promising all-rounder due to his fitness issues. It seemed his back had given up on him. Venkatesh Iyer, a new all-rounder who made an impact in IPL 2021, having scored 370 runs in 10 matches with four fifties and taken three wickets, seemed to be on the right path. Iyer could bat anywhere and delivered some overs of pace with the ball. It seemed that before fulfilling his full potential, Pandya was slowly fading from the main side and Iyer was a perfect successor for him.
But then came IPL 2022, one of the new franchises, Gujarat Titans, put their faith in Pandya. The all-rounder delivered quality performances, justifying the backing he received. Pandya not only was an incredible captain, cool and tactically sound, but also showcased his fullest potential as an all-rounder. He played a huge role in GT's triumph in their maiden season. He scored 487 runs in 15 games at an average of 44.27 and four half-centuries. Pandya also took eight wickets throughout the tournament.
This IPL triumph propelled Pandya into megastardom and many had started to discuss him as a potential leader for Team India in future. The 2022 season of IPL served as a pad that re-launched Pandya into the national side in a new avatar. This new version of Pandya was more prolific, responsible with the bat and could switch between anchoring and power-hitting at will. Moreover, after his injury, he once again found mojo in his bowling, taking key wickets for his team.
Pandya had his first taste of leadership during the South Africa T20I series at home, where he was Rishabh Pant's deputy. Following that, he got to serve as captain during series against Ireland, West Indies and New Zealand in the coming months.
In 27 matches and 25 innings this year, he has scored 607 runs at an average of 33.72, with three half-centuries and the best individual score of 71*. He has also taken 20 wickets this year in the 20-over format.
Also in 3 ODIs this year, he has scored 100 runs in two innings, with the best score of 71*. He has also taken six wickets in the 50-over format this year.
2). Virat Kohli ends century drought lasting 1000+ days
Ever since cricket resumed after COVID-19, something about Virat Kohli did not feel the same. He was often clumsy at times, would fall flat against spinners and debutants that he once used to boss at will. In 2020 and 2021, Kohli could not score his much anticipated 71st century. Though his statistics were not very disappointing as he averaged in mid to late 30s and hit many fifties, such were the mighty standards of Kohli.
Virat entered 2022 battling perhaps the leanest phase of his career, which saw him struggling to hit even a half-century at a lot of points. By July, he had not even crossed 500-run mark in international cricket in 2022.
Speaking to the media, Virat often opened up about his struggles with mental health, that came with his hectic cricketing schedule and unreal expectations from him. The star batter's struggles helped many in realising the importance of mental health in sports and showed that 'King Kohli', often bullying his opponents into submission with his majestic hitting, was a human being after all.
Come Asia Cup 2022 in August-September, Kohli made a remarkable comeback after a month-long break, finishing as the second-highest run-scorer in the tournament and hitting his much anticipated 71st international ton against Afghanistan. The moment sent the entire cricketing fraternity into ecstacy. The way Virat opened about his mental struggles, his relationship with wife and actress Anushka Sharma inspired many. Gone were the days when a young Virat would run around the field, roaring after a century. It was replaced by a more mature, open, balanced and wholesome version of this star batter.
Kohli continued his form in T20 World Cup, finishing as the highest run-scorer in the tournament. This also included a knock of 82*, an innings of a lifetime against Pakistan, which came during a chase of 160 runs, with India struggling at 31/4. T20 World Cup win could have been Kohli's redemption, but perhaps the 2023 Cricket World Cup is what will complete Virat's movie-like comeback.
Overall in 2022, Virat scored 1,348 runs this year at an average of 38.51, with two centuries and 11 half-centuries in 42 innings. His best score has been 122*. His T20I figures stood out the most. In 20 matches this year in the format, he scored 781 runs at an average of 55.78, with one century and eight half-centuries.
3). Sri Lanka captures Asia Cup 2022 despite all odds
Heading into Asia Cup 2022, India were the overwhelming favourites, given the return of seniors like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja into the team. Pakistan had Babar Azam, Mohammed Rizwan and a strong bowling lineup that made them as second favourites. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were nowhere the favourites, despite the quality and potential their side had.
Sri Lanka was also at the height of an intensely political, and economical crisis back home. This was bound to stay on the players' minds, who were in UAE away from all the turmoil. On top of that, they were crushed by Afghanistan in their first match. Afterwards, the Lankan Lions played like champions throughout the tournament, as if the crisis back home and defeat against Afghanistan served as a fuel for them. The Dasun Shanaka-led side left no stone unturned in putting smiles on their people's faces, with the thrilling, fearless cricket they played. The side emerged as champions, defeating Pakistan in final. This win, despite all the odds stacked against them on and off the field is one the most inspirational sports stories of the year.
4).'Bazball' revolution takes cricketing world by storm
Enter 2022. England Test cricket looked in shambles. England had lost the series against West Indies away from home and had literally surrendered the Ashes to Australia by 4-0 in one of their most disappointing outings in years. In captain Joe Root's last 17 matches as skipper, England could manage only one win.
Come June, England was under brand-new leadership. Ben Stokes, the man for big stages for England was the new Test skipper and New Zealand legend Brendon McCullum, a fearless, no-nonsense cricketer in his prime was the head coach in the longer format.
The dup reenergized England cricket with their positive, fearless approach to Test cricket. Seeing many turning to T20 cricket, Stokes-McCullum was bent on reviving the art form that was Test cricket with their attack-from-the-first-ball mindset. This is how 'Bazball', a term coined by English players and media after McCullum's nickname to describe England's new-age of Test cricket was born.
This new age was marked by England thunderously charging at their opponents right from the get-go, be it while bowling or batting. Likes of Joe Root, and Jonny Bairstow made centuries a habit and bowlers a staple meal. Number three-batter James Anderon lost the 'fear of getting out'. England's ageless wonder and pacer James Anderson at 40, felt he could go on for more years. Such was the way 'Bazball' impacted the team. Every one brought into it fully.
The result was England winning nine of their next 10 Tests, which established them as one of the teams to fear during the next ICC World Test Championship. High-octane, hard-hitting run chases, attacking fast bowling, bamboozling spin and stunning displays of fielding, and catches were the hallmarks of these Test wins.
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