Cricket is a game of moments. More than the sounds of the bat and ball, the mini physical, statistical, mental and status-based match-ups and moments that come during a game define the sport and capture the excitement, joy, heartbreak, ecstasy, and sadness it brings. All it takes is a single moment to win a game, to capture a World Cup, to become an unlikely hero and to break a million of hearts.

With each stroke and swing of cricketing equipment, cricket transports millions from the monotony of daily life to ecstasy, from wanting more to appreciating simple joys and things of life, from sitting inside their living rooms to getting resolute about doing something big for themselves and their country.

2023 was no different as years-old records were shattered, and some upset wins were recorded. Some empires continued rising to the top, some fell on the floor with a thud. With the amount of international and league cricket action offered this year, it would be a humungous task to truly list out moments that defined this year as their magnitude is different to diverse set of people worldwide.

Nonetheless, here are some top cricket moments of the year, without any ranking:

Virat Kohli completes 50th ODI century

Just a decade back, Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries looked impossible to break. Then stepped up a youngster from Delhi, piling up runs and centuries at a rate never seen before every year.

On that eventful November 15 this year during the ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final at Wankhede Stadium against New Zealand, Virat became the first player to make 50 ODI centuries, achieving this feat in front of the legend himself, who was clapping for him in the audience.

From lifting Sachin on his shoulders following India’s World Cup triumph back in 2011 at the same venue, Virat had come a long way, standing shoulder to shoulder with his idol in debates of “Who is the greatest ODI batter of all time?”

Though Virat had outclassed his idol statistically, he still did not forget that he was a kid growing up on Sachin’s heroics on the field, acknowledging the Master Blaster’s claps with a bow.

Glenn Maxwell’s 201* against Afghanistan

In a chase of 292 runs against Afghanistan, Australia was in a spot of bother at 91/7. With a World Cup semifinal spot on the line, even one single mistake could have sent the great Australian empire of cricket crumbling to heaps, out of contention for the semis.

Then arrived the ‘Big Show’, Glenn Maxwell. Having already smashed the fastest World Cup century in just 40 balls against the Netherlands, most people thought that perhaps the best of Maxwell was past them.

But what followed at Wankhede was an instant classic knock. The Australian spirit and traits of resilience, determination, patience and bravery that had helped build a star-studded, multi-time World Cup-winning empire came to the surface.

Despite heat, cramps and back spasms that could have threatened Maxwell’s further participation in the tournament, the all-rounder registered Australia men’s first-ever double ton in just 128 balls, with 21 fours and 10 sixes and won Australia the game single-handedly with skipper Pat Cummins (12* in 68 balls) absolutely nailing the role of an ice-cold anchor. The gulf of championship titles and big match experience was exposed and sent Afghanistan packing out of the contention for semifinals.

West Indies knocked out of ICC Cricket World Cup qualifiers

In one of the most shocking and unexpected games of all time, the Netherlands, led by a century from Teja Nidamanuru (111) managed to tie West Indies’ total of 374 runs.

Later on, star all-rounder Logan van Beek smashed an experienced Jason Holder for 30 runs in the Super Over and also defended it with his sharp bowling. Outthrown were the two-time champions out of an ICC Cricket World Cup for the first time ever.

An associate member of the ICC, which barely played international cricket with the top teams, had deprived the marquee tournament of the Caribbean flavour. The empire which boasted the likes of Brian Lara, Clive Lloyd, Malcolm Marshall, Chris Gayle, and Viv Richards etc had sunk to its lowest.

Afghanistan beats England in 2023 Cricket World Cup

The Afghan Tigers showed the world that it is here to stay during the Cricket World Cup held in India, a place many of its stars consider as their second home because of the popularity they enjoy here and the amount of investment Indian cricket has made in raising them from ground level.

The win against defending champions England is something that will haunt every other team forever, making them take this rising Asian side seriously. Bundling out a strong

English batting lineup for 215 while defending a solid 284 in front of a loud Delhi crowd sent shockwaves across the cricketing world. This shock hit England the most and sent them on a losing streak that snatched any chances of defending their crown from them.

Mohammed Siraj’s monster spell against Sri Lanka in Asia Cup final

This Hyderabadi pace bowler has a knack for taking a useful powerplay wicket or two. But on September 17 against defending champions Sri Lanka, Siraj took the whole match away from Sri Lanka in powerplay itself, reducing them to 12/6 at one point.

The pacer’s spell of 6/21 in seven overs destroyed the Lankan team inside out, and bundled them out for just 50 in 15.2 overs, which India chased down without breaking a sweat.

The long-term damage of this spell was such that Lankan Lions, who had till then played some really solid cricket, could garner just two wins in nine matches of the CWC 2023 and even lost their ICC Champions Trophy spot.

Virat Kohli’s seventh IPL Century

In Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) final league stage match against Gujarat Titans, star India batter Virat Kohli passed Chris Gayle’s record of six IPL tons, smashing his 7th in just 61 balls, studded with 13 fours and a six.

Not only this was a typical Virat day at work, smashing records for fun, but a statement aimed at those who still doubted his T20 game despite his mind-boggling numbers in the format that he is not finished!

MS Dhoni-Ravindra Jadeja hug after winning IPL 2023

Following over a month of criticism for his batting and even booing from a section of fans who wanted to see some good old MS Dhoni sixes over him, Ravindra Jadeja’s IPL 2023 had a fairytale ending as he hit the 10 runs required in the final two balls to win Chennai Super Kings (CSK) its fifth title.

Among the ones who rushed to Jadeja following this win was Dhoni, who could not even score a run in the final. With tears in his eyes, Dhoni lifted in the air his most trusted partner-in-crime, a protege that had turned into an all-time great following years of Mahi’s backing and great performances, forming one of the league’s most iconic photographs.

Mumbai Indians winning the first-ever Women’s Premier League

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a cricketing empire. For years, women cricketers waited for a women’s version of the league so that they could have their share of the spotlight, development and stage sharing with some of the best in the business.

This dream translated into a reality. In a thrilling final, MI, the most successful IPL franchise in men’s cricket, secured its first-ever WPL title as well, beating Delhi Capitals by seven wickets. This hopefully, has started off another success story that will change the course of women’s cricket in years to come.

Jonny Bairstow run-out during Ashes 2023

During the second Test of the Ashes at Lord’s, Jonny Bairstow was run out for just 10, with a direct hit by Alex Carey, which happened just after Bairstow had left the ball and walked out of his crease, expecting no harm.

The controversy over this runout and the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ disturbed England for a short while, losing the second game by 43 runs despite a Ben Stokes masterclass of 155 in chase of 371 runs. But it filled England with enough fuel to dominate Australia for the remainder of the series and level it 2-2 after going down 2-2.

Just a simple run-out changed the whole complexion of this battle between England’s ‘Bazball’ and Australia and let the hosts fight their way out of the humiliation of being 2-0 down in the series.

Marnus Labuschagne bails Australia out of trouble against South Africa

Being introduced as a concussion substitute to Steve Smith re-introduced Marnus Labuschagne to the world after an underwhelming debut and he turned into a premier Test bat. The same rule saved Marnus’ struggling ODI career.

Introduced as a substitute to Cameron Green in the first ODI, Labuschagne took Australia out of troubled waters, marshalling his team from 93/6 to completing a successful chase of 223 runs. This chain of events brought him back into the ODI World Cup squad, where he hit a match-winning fifty and a partnership with destructive Travis Head to secure the Aussies’ sixth title.

Rinku Singh’s five sixes against Gujarat Titans

The match between Kolkata Knight Riders and defending champions Gujarat took a turn from your normal IPL match to an instant classic when a little-known Rinku Singh smashed Yash Dayal for five successive sixes in the final over to complete a 200-run plus chase.

This Uttar Pradesh star rose from a bright prospect to a superstar within an over. His consistent performances earned him a place in Team India, where he is prospering as a finisher.

UAE beat New Zealand in 2nd T20I

In the second match of a three-match T20I series, UAE pulled off one of the greatest upsets of the game’s history, beating New Zealand by seven wickets. Though the New Zealand side was short on experience and star power, UAE defeating a serious, world-class Test-playing nation was not an easy feat.

Nathan Lyon comes out to bat despite injury

After picking up a serious calf injury earlier in the match, Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon delivered one of the game’s greatest examples of determination, putting the team above oneself and pain when he came out to bat in the second innings. Although he scored just four runs, his 15-run stand with Mitchell Starc proved to be a point of difference in Australia’s 43-run win.

New Zealand beat England by a run in a Test match!

In a high-scoring second Test at Wellington, England was given 258 runs to chase by Kiwis. Kiwis had England in a tight situation at 251/9. James Anderson looked to become the unlikely hero by hitting a four and taking England more closer to a win.

But Neil Wagner removed him to win the Kiwis a thriller by just one run despite trailing by 226 runs in the first innings, making this one of the greatest Test wins of the modern era, which involved an unbelievable fightback by the Kiwis. They levelled the series 1-1. It is also the smallest margin in terms of runs in a Test win.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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