Kulasekara made the most of helpful conditions in the third and fourth ODIs against Australia and devastated their batting line-up, particularly in the third match, with his late inswing. The pick of his eight wickets across the two games was perhaps the dismissal of Australia captain Michael Clarke in Brisbane, bowled through the gate attempting a drive. In any other week, his hauls of five for 22 and three for 30 may have been enough to win the award, but Jadeja pinches it courtesy of his all-round performances.
In the second ODI against England, Jadeja tucked into England’s death bowling and ended with 61 off only 37 balls to haul India up to 285 for six. Then, when England batted, he took two wickets with his left-arm-spin. In the third game, it was again his spin bowling that caused problems and he ended with three for 19 in another India victory.
When he was bought by IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings for more than $2 million in 2012 following a string of good performances for India’s ODI side, some questioned the wisdom of their decision and wrote him off as a bits-and-pieces cricketer who couldn’t justify his place in the side with batting or bowling performances alone. He didn’t do much to dissuade them of that opinion initially, with largely disappointing performances in IPL 2012, leading to him being held up as the poster-boy for all that was wrong with Indian cricket - namely big money for small performances. This was opinion that had been forming for some time in certain sections of the Indian media following his alleged involvement in a brawl in a West Indies pub in 2010 and a one-year ban from the IPL for an unrelated offence.
However, towards the end of 2012 he again began to deliver the goods. In November against Gujarat, playing for his native Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy, he hit the second triple-hundred of his career. Better was to come, when, a month later, he became the first Indian batsman and eighth from any country to hit three triple-hundreds. He was promptly called up to India’s Test squad for the fourth Test against England and resumed his ODI career in the matches that followed over Christmas against Pakistan.
Besides Kulasekara and Jadeja, other cricketers who have put in notable performances over the past week are Jadeja’s Indian team-mates MS Dhoni (72 in the second ODI) and Virat Kohli (77 not out in the third ODI). It is also right that James Franklin gets a mention for his role in New Zealand’s unexpected win over South Africa. He guided their run chase with a calm unbeaten 47 after they had looked to be out for the match.
In the women’s game, Stafanie Taylor played a starring role as West Indies levelled the ODI series against South Africa; with her compatriots Deandra Dottin and Shanel Daley earning player of the match awards for their performances in the subsequent first and second Twenty20 internationals.
© Cricket World 2013
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