On Dec 24, 2017, India defeated Sri Lanka by 5 wickets in the third bilateral T20I in Mumbai. As it was their third T20I victory of the bilateral three T20I series against Sri Lanka, India managed to secure a clean sweep over their opponents. The home side restricted Sri Lanka to 135/7, courtesy a match winning performance by opening bowler Jaydev Unadkat. The left arm seamer yielded figures of 15/2 from his four overs, which also earned him the man of the match, as well as man of the series awards.
This T20I following a runfest in the second T20I, in which India scored 260/5 from their twenty overs. Openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma shared a partnership stand of 165 from 12.4 overs, and that laid the foundation for one of the highest team scores in recent times.
The stand-in captain Rohit Sharma scored 118 from 43 balls, and even equaled the record for the fastest century in T20I, as he reached the landmark in 35 balls. In response, Sri Lanka’s batsmen tried to put in a fighting effort, but the target demanded an extraordinary effort if it were to be achieved. The first T20I was similarly lopsided, as the visitors collapsed for 83 all out in 16 overs, which also gave India their largest victory margin of 93 runs.
Like India, New Zealand has also won their limited overs series against West Indies, as the home side comfortably won the first two ODI matches of the three match series. Similarly, the Australian cricket team too seem poised to end their year on a high. By defeating England by an innings and 41 runs in the third Test, the home side secured an Ashes series victory with an unassailable lead of 3-0. In the fourth Test which started on Boxing Day, both teams are without their top seamers: Mitchell Starc for Australia and Craig Overton for the visiting team. Australia remain favourites to win the remaining two matches, as England continue to struggle with issues on and off the field.
Another Boxing Day Test that will be of much interest for players and pundits is between South Africa and their visiting neighbors, Zimbabwe. While the contest is between a top and bottom ranked team, the Test match is a first of its kind, as it will played over four days, instead of five. To add to the intrigue, the follow-on mark has been reduced from 200 to 150, while the Test match will be a day-night game, played under lights and with a pink ball.
Suraj Sam Samtani is a freelance writer and reporter for international media and companies across the globe, and is also an academic and personal coach.