People were there. For the first time in three years, there were a lot of people at Newlands. Not just any fans, either. Happy fans.
This isn’t a story about a dog biting a person, but it’s important to say right away because before the first night of the SA20, there have been more than 1,000 very hard days in South African cricket. Not a good time. And people who are sad.
The hard times began right here, on this ground, in December 2019, when a new CSA leadership team was introduced amid administrative chaos. In the weeks, months, and years that followed, almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong, both on and off the field. As a result, people lost faith in the game. Even the most loyal supporters moved to a town where everything was bad, and the word on the street was that nothing the CSA did would ever again interest them. But on Tuesday afternoon, two weeks before January’s pay day, they were lured back to Newlands. It is said that the same number will show up at Kingsmead on Wednesday and in Gqeberha the next day.
What they saw in Cape Town made them happy. As people slowly found their seats in the afternoon sun, they smiled and took selfies. Young children who were still on school break came in with their parents. They would probably be allowed to stay up later than usual. The crowd was made up of people of different ages, genders, and races, just like it was before the pandemic shut down our stadiums. This was a good sign, considering how divided the game is outside of this tournament. Then they began to sing.
The SA20 organizers spent a lot of money on the entertainment and brought out two of South Africa’s best-known performers for an opening ceremony that was otherwise low-key. Sho Majozi, a rapper, and Master KG, known for the lockdown hit “Jerusalema,” performed on a stage outside the newly built office building at the ground while dancers did their thing in front of the embankment. They were joined by a group of MI Cape Town fans who already knew all the right moves and wore azure blue hats, flags, and T-shirts with the team’s name on them. The daytime fireworks were lost on almost everyone because they blended in with the bright blue sky, but the presence of the who’s who of South African cricket was not.
On the grassy slope, a fenced-off area served as a makeshift commentary box. Graeme Smith, who is now the league’s commissioner but has also been the national captain and director of cricket, was surrounded by people who wanted to get his autograph. Smith has been loved and hated equally over the last three years, both for saving South African cricket after the terrible Thabang Moroe era and for rumors that he made the national team more like a boys’ club, which was also suggested at the Social Justice and Nation-Building hearings. However, he still draws a crowd. AB de Villiers was also there, and he got the same kind of welcome. But the men on the field were the ones who cheered the loudest. In particular, the one we used to call “Baby AB” is now called “DB,” which stands for “Dewald Brevis.”
He lived up to his reputation as the next big thing in South African batting by scoring the winning run in the first game of the tournament, when it looked like local players would be better. George Linde, who is from Cape Town, was asked to bowl the first ball of the new competition. At home, he would never have played in front of this many people. The first two balls he threw were good, but this third one was hit by Jos Buttler through extra cover. He gave up a total of eight runs, and when he switched ends to bowl the fourth over, he gave up nine more runs.
In the middle of all that, Jofra Archer made his long-awaited return to competitive cricket after 18 months off. He couldn’t have asked for a better start. He got rid of Wihan Lubbe with his third ball, after swinging his first and hitting him on the toes with his second. He finished with a wicket maiden. The oohs and aahs were likely a mix of admiration and worry. Remember that Archer will be part of the England ODI team that plays South Africa in World Cup League matches later this month. If he’s already getting up to 145kph, how dangerous could he be then?
South Africa kept having a lot to worry about from the English players. Buttler found his groove with ramps and lap shots, and then Olly Stone took out both his and Dane Vilas’ middle stumps. David Miller’s 31-ball 42, which included a beautiful six over long-on off Sam Curran, showed what South Africans can do, but he was the first of Archer’s two-in-two. But then the new names for South Africa took over.
Brevis and Ryan Rickleton, who were both talked about as batters who should have been in the Test squad in Australia, made the target look small as some of the national rugby team, including scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, watched from the president’s suite. They batted with a freedom that South African players haven’t had in three years. They weren’t tied down by controversies or, to some extent, expectations.
At sunset, a walk around the ground showed that people weren’t really paying that much attention to what was going on in the middle. After all, this is more than just a cricket tournament, and many people at Newlands were enjoying the other activities. They caught up with their friends, ate too many hot chips, stood in line at the bars, and every once in a while enjoyed a big hit. So far, so good, as the SA20 gets ready to start.
1000 Runs in ODIs: Kohli’s Cricket Legacy
On Thursday, November 2, Virat Kohli achieved an accomplishment. He became the batsman to surpass 1000 runs in ODIs in 2023, following in the footsteps of Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma. Not that,. He also joined Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, and Pathum Nissanka as the fourth players to achieve this impressive record in the 50-over format within the same year.
Stepping into History with 1000 Runs in ODIs
Entering the realm of history, Kohli’s unwavering determination and exceptional skills were put on display during his match in 2023. Notably, the cricket maestro, now 34 years old, made an indelible impact by surpassing Sachin Tendulkar‘s record, securing the most number of years with 1000 runs in ODIs. Kohli’s consistent ability to perform at such an exceptional level has been a defining characteristic of his illustrious career, as he had previously achieved this monumental milestone in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019, before accomplishing it once again in the present year of 2023.
Sachin Tendulkar with god of cricket Virat Kohli pic.twitter.com/zmztejNBBB— Kevin (@imkevin149) November 2, 2023
An Unforgettable Journey
In an intense World Cup 2023 clash against Sri Lanka at the renowned Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Virat Kohli’s pursuit of this historic milestone was realized with an impressive 34 runs. Despite facing challenges, including a rare duck against England at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow, his overall performance throughout the year has been nothing short of spectacular.
Kohli’s memorable journey was highlighted by an unbeaten century during India’s triumphant seven-wicket victory against Bangladesh at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium in Pune. Adding to his illustrious record, he solidified his stature with a brilliant 95 runs, making a significant contribution to India’s thrilling four-wicket win over New Zealand led by Tom Latham at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium in Pune.
Shaheen Shah Afridi: Fastest to 100 ODI Wickets
Shaheen Shah Afridi, on Tuesday, October 31, achieved a remarkable feat, becoming the third fastest bowler to secure 100 wickets in ODIs. His outstanding performance during Pakistan’s World Cup 2023 match against Bangladesh at the renowned Eden Gardens in Kolkata led to this historic accomplishment.
A Landmark Moment
In the thrilling encounter, Shaheen clinched his 100th wicket in only his 51st match, dismissing Tigers’ opening batter Tanzid Hasan Tamim. The left-arm fast bowler displayed exceptional skill as he struck Tamim on the pads, prompting the on-field umpire to raise his finger. Despite Tamim’s referral to the third umpire using the Decision Review System (DRS), the replays confirmed the ball crashing into the stumps, upholding the on-field decision. Bangladesh lost their first wicket with the scoreboard reading 0 in just 0.5 overs.
Surpassing Preceding Records
Shaheen Shah Afridi not only secured this feat in record time but also outshone the accomplishments of esteemed bowlers preceding him. He surpassed the record of the fastest pacer, previously held by Mitchell Starc, who attained the milestone in August 2016 during an ODI against Sri Lanka at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Legacy of Excellence
Moreover, Shaheen shattered the long-standing record held by Saqlain Mushtaq, becoming the fastest Pakistani bowler to claim 100 wickets in ODIs. Saqlain had set this record on May 12, 1997, during an ODI against Sri Lanka in Gwalior. It is notable that among the Pakistani fast bowlers, the accomplished Shaheen Shah Afridi follows in the footsteps of the legendary Waqar Younis, who achieved the 100-wicket mark back in February 1993 against Zimbabwe in Sharjah.
Demonstrating his prowess beyond ODIs, Shaheen has made significant contributions in Tests and T20Is as well. Since his debut in 2018, he has garnered 105 wickets in Tests and 64 wickets in T20Is. His exceptional journey began with a strong performance in the U19 World Cup in New Zealand. Notably, he played a pivotal role in Lahore Qalandars’ consecutive victories in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
A Testament to Talent and Dedication
Shaheen Shah Afridi’s rapid rise to 100 ODI wickets within 51 matches underlines his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication to the sport. As he continues to leave an indelible mark on the cricketing world, his journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring cricketers worldwide. With his remarkable achievements, Afridi has solidified his place in the annals of cricket history, etching his name as one of Pakistan’s most formidable and promising fast bowlers.
ICC World Cup: Shoaib Akhtar says, ‘Mai India ki tareef kyu na karu’
Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has recently expressed admiration for India’s dominant performance in the ongoing 2023 ICC World Cup. With India securing victories in all six matches, Akhtar highlighted the team’s exceptional display across various aspects of the game. Although the recent batting performance against England in Lucknow was relatively modest, India’s fierce bowling attack, led by Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, proved instrumental in securing a remarkable win. This triumph not only solidified India’s leading position on the points table but also exacerbated England’s struggles in the tournament, leaving them virtually eliminated.
India’s Remarkable Bowling Transformation
In his analysis, Akhtar emphasized the transformative impact of Shami’s inclusion in India’s playing eleven following Hardik Pandya’s injury. Acknowledging Shami’s outstanding performances against New Zealand and England, Akhtar credited India’s ability to win matches through their bowling prowess, showcasing a shift from their traditional reliance on batting strength. He commended the collective effort of the Indian bowling unit, particularly recognizing the strategic brilliance of fast bowler Bumrah.
India’s Path to World Cup Glory
Looking ahead, Akhtar voiced his confidence in India’s potential to secure their third ODI World Cup trophy, highlighting the team’s upcoming matches against Sri Lanka, South Africa, and the Netherlands. Expressing optimism, he emphasized the significance of maintaining their unbeaten streak en route to the final, setting the stage for a potential historic ICC World Cup victory. However, Akhtar cautioned against compromising the successful bowling unit once Pandya returns to full fitness, warning against the potential detriment of a partially fit Pandya’s inclusion at the expense of a bowler.
Akhtar’s Praise for India and its Response to Criticism
Addressing skepticism surrounding his praise for the Indian team, Akhtar reiterated the exceptional nature of India’s performance, particularly in their ability to defend a modest total with a significant margin of victory. Undeterred by criticism, Akhtar reaffirmed his admiration for India’s exceptional cricketing prowess, urging acknowledgment and appreciation of their commendable achievements.
Shoaib Akhtar’s Perspective on Virat Kohli
Shifting focus, Akhtar’s history of praise extends beyond team performances to individual players, notably including former Indian team captain Virat Kohli. Reminiscing on Kohli’s resilience during a challenging phase in his career, Akhtar highlighted the pivotal role played by Kohli’s consistent century-scoring performances, leading to India’s victories. Recognizing Kohli’s contribution to the team’s success, Akhtar emphasized the significance of Kohli’s monumental centuries during crucial chases, solidifying his status as a crucial asset for the Indian cricket team.
In a comparison between Kohli and the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, Akhtar acknowledged Tendulkar’s status as one of the greatest batsmen while highlighting the challenges Tendulkar faced as a captain. Drawing parallels, Akhtar expressed confidence in Kohli’s eventual resurgence, expecting him to return to his prolific scoring form once he finds his equilibrium.
In summary, Akhtar’s acknowledgment of India’s exceptional performance and his recognition of individual players’ contributions underscore the team’s formidable presence in the 2023 ICC World Cup, setting the stage for a potential historic triumph in the coming days.