An unbeaten 70 and a five-wicket haul to steer his team to a series win – Test cricket witnessed two such match-winning performances in last two days.
More than 8000 kilometres apart, Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali did the star turn for their teams, winning the Man of the Match awards at the SSC ground in Colombo and Old Trafford respectively, and making strong cases for being considered the best Test allrounder in the world.
The numbers don’t do them disservice. In last one year, Moeen has scored three Test centuries, to go with three five-wicket hauls including a hat-trick against South Africa in the recently concluded series. Jadeja, on the other hand, has seven scores of 50-plus to go with 87 wickets – the second-most in the period.
There are only five players who scored at least 500 runs and picked up at least 25 wickets in Test cricket in the last 365-odd days (since August 7, 2016). Unsurprisingly, these five gentlemen are also the top five allrounders in the world according to the latest International Cricket Council rankings.
With a difference in average of almost 18, Jadeja heads the charts, while Moeen is in third place with 9.10.
|Shakib Al Hasan||7||656||217||46.85||2/2||29||5-85||31.68||1||15.16|
* Minimum of 500 runs and 25 wickets – since August 7, 2016
After his brilliant performance against South Africa in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, Moeen became the eighth player (the instance being the ninth, with Ian Botham having achieved it twice) to score 250 runs and take 25 wickets in a Test series. It is the first time someone has achieved this feat in a four-Test series, although two other players, George Giffen and Aubrey Faulkner, crossed that landmark in the fourth Test of five-match series, both over a century ago.
|George Giffen (Australia)||4||367||161||52.42||1||29||6-155||20.13||3||England, 1894-95|
|Aubrey Faulkner (South Africa)||4||436||123||62.28||1||26||6-87||21.65||2||England, 1909-10|
|Moeen Ali (England)||4||252||87||36.00||0||25||6-53||15.64||2||South Africa, 2017|
Back to the SSC, and apart from scoring a half-century in the second Test, Ashwin took another five-wicket haul during Sri Lanka’s first innings, taking his tally of five-fors to 26 in just 51 matches. He is now eighth on the list of players with most five-wicket hauls in Test cricket, with Anil Kumble (35) the only Indian ahead of him. When it comes to the number of matches played for each five-wicket haul, he’s fifth on the list, which is headed by Sydney Barnes, the England cricketer of the early 1900s.
Fewest matches per five-wicket haul
|Sydney Barnes (England)||27||189||16.43||41.6||24||1.13|
|Tom Richardson (England)||14||88||25.22||51.1||11||1.27|
|Charlie Turner (Australia)||17||101||16.53||51.2||11||1.55|
|Clarrie Grimmett (Australia)||37||216||24.21||67.1||21||1.76|
|R Ashwin (India)||51||286||25.47||52.7||26||1.96|
Root’s golden run
The extra responsibility of captaincy and a change in his batting position don’t seem to have had any effect on Joe Root’s excellent form with the willow. Root scored 52 and 49 in the Old Trafford Test, extending his run of scoring at least one fifty-plus score in a Test to ten games. He is now two Tests away from matching AB de Villiers’s streak of 12 Tests.
|AB de Villiers||12||November 30, 2012||Australia||February 20, 2014||Australia|
|Viv Richards||11||January 23, 1976||Australia||February 18, 1977||Australia|
|Gautam Gambhir||11||October 17, 2008||Australia||January 24, 2010||Bangladesh|
|Virender Sehwag||11||November 16, 2009||Sri Lanka||October 1, 2010||Australia|
|Mominul Haque||11||October 9, 2013||New Zealand||May 6, 2015||Pakistan|
|John Edrich||10||July 10, 1969||West Indies||February 12, 1971||Australia|
|Sachin Tendulkar||10||December 2, 2009||Sri Lanka||October 9, 2010||Australia|
|Joe Root||10*||October 28, 2016||Bangladesh||August 4, 2017||South Africa|
During the first innings, Root also completed 5000 runs in Test cricket, becoming the 22nd English player to do so, and the fifth-fastest too, in just 105 innings.
Fastest to 5000 Test runs for England
|Jack Hobbs||55||91||Australia||MCG||March 8, 1929|
|Wally Hammond||59||97||Australia||SCG||December 18, 1936|
|Ken Barrington||61||97||South Africa||The Oval||August 26, 1965|
|Len Hutton||55||98||South Africa||Leeds||July 26, 1951|
|Joe Root||57||105||South Africa||Old Trafford||August 4, 2017|
In the second innings of the Old Trafford Test, Alastair Cook once again got out to Morne Morkel. This was the 12th time Morkel got Cook’s wicket in a Test. No other bowler has dismissed him more than nine times.
Bairstow’s near miss
Jonny Bairstow was on 53 in England’s first innings when their ninth wicket fell. A partnership of 50 with James Anderson for the tenth, out of which Anderson’s contribution was just four, took Bairstow to 99 before he got out to Keshav Maharaj. He became the 15th England player and the third wicketkeeper overall to be dismissed on 99 in Test cricket.
|Brendon McCullum||99||Sri Lanka||Napier||April 4, 2005|
|MS Dhoni||99||England||Nagpur||December 13, 2012|
|Jonny Bairstow||99||South Africa||Manchester||August 4, 2017|