A picture speaks a thousand words, they say. In reality it helps the person to read between the lines. A picture need not be confined to travelling or capturing special moments. Cricket has its own share of moments as well. Another year. Another bag of cricket memories left behind. Some were hard on the spectators. Some others were moments to rejoice. Some were so attractive that it was difficult to take one’s eyes off them. And there were others that brought smiles to our faces. And some were so breathtakingly beautiful while some were jaw-dropping beauty. All in all, it was history in the making.

This year began with Australia regaining the No. 1 spot in ICC Test Rankings. India clinched the T20 Asia Cup, which was followed by West Indies reclaiming the champions tag following their second World T20 title. Then started the actual cricketing season: Australia, Sri Lanka, India, New Zealand, England and Pakistan fought to better their Test rankings, but only one emerged on top. Although Pakistan set a new record, archrivals India announced themselves in Test cricket soon afterwards. As another excitement-filled year comes to a close, let us have a glimpse at 22 classic photos that defined 2016:

Records are meant to be broken

Some claim records do not matter to them. We will never get to know how true their claims are. However, some records are so astonishing that you have to sit up and take notice. 2016 was not short on these.

It began with a Mumbai boy who became a star overnight. Pranav Dhanawade became the first player to score 1,000 runs in an innings in a school cricket match. He resumed his overnight score on 652 and added 348 runs to it, reaching the 1000-run mark. From publishing houses to the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni, Dhanawade astonished all.

Soon afterwards, Maharashtra Government announced that they will bear all the expenses for coaching as well as education of the Under-16 cricketer.  His dreams turned to reality when he played 9 matches in England for Worli Cricket Club. They call him Pranav ‘1009’ Dhanawade these days. However, Dhanawade’s year came to a sad ending when he was involved in a police brawl when he raised an objection to vacate a ground being used as helipad. He even spent a night at the lock-up and was left with a warning.

As they say, of the sport, for the sport, by the sport…

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Pranav Dhanawade shattered all records with an unbeaten 1,009 in school cricket © AFP

Coming back to our original heroes, it was a moment of pride for India and Pakistan, who fought hard for the No. 1 rank in ICC Test team Rankings. India enjoyed top spot for a brief moment, thanks to Sri Lanka whitewashing Australia; however, a washout in the last Test at Queen’s Park Oval meant that Pakistan replaced India at the top following their 2-2 draw on English soil. Misbah-ul-Haq received the ICC Test mace in front of jubilant spectators.

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Misbah-ul-Haq-led Pakistan were ranked No. 1 in Tests for the very first time after drawing 2-2 against England © AFP

Unfortunately for Pakistan, India turned out to be the perfect party-spoilers. India started their gruelling Test season by hosting New Zealand for 3 Tests. It took India a 3-0 whitewash to topple New Zealand from the top spot. Virat Kohli received the Test mace from former Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar during the post-match presentation. Kohli became the second Indian (after MS Dhoni) and 10th overall to achieve the mace. Such pride, much wow!

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India completed a 3-0 whitewash against New Zealand and went above arch-rivals Pakistan as the No. 1 Test team in the world © AFP

Cricket and Emotions go hand-in-hand

Some would say that cricket, or any sport, does not bear emotions. They would probably change their minds once they go through the following photographs.

Remember Saroj and Devki? No, they are not any new Indian Women cricketers but the ones who produced gems in Indian cricket team. During the final ODI between India and New Zealand at Visakhapatnam, the entire Indian team donned jerseys proudly bearinbg their mothers’ names.

Of course, this is not the first time a team has taken a progressive initiative. South Africa typically take field in pink once every year to create awareness about breast cancer during.

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India captain MS Dhoni and his teammates wore their mother’s name on their jerseys in the Vizag ODI against New Zealand. Photo Courtesy: Ravindra Wani Twitter’s handle

Spirit of cricket never fades off. Dramatic ends can be heartbreaking, and that was what Bangladesh spectators and batsmen expressed when they lost the first Test against England in September at Chittagong by a narrow margin. Debutant Sabbir Rahman did not show any nerves as he seemed to guide Bangladesh to a historic win with an unbeaten 64, Sabbir took Bangladesh to the brink of victory, only to be abandoned by his partners. As a dejected Sabbir slumped to his knees, Alastair Cook and Joe Root walked to his side, reminding spectators of Andrew Flintoff and Brett Lee, and Grant Elliott and Dale Steyn.

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Joe Root (Left) consoles Sabbir Rahman after England edged out Bangladesh in the first Test at Chittagong © AFP

Not a Phillip Hughes moment again

Australians, still recovering Phillip Hughes’s sad demise, went through the same emotions when Steven Smith was struck by a bouncer by Neil Wagner early this year. On Day Two of the second Test against New Zealand, Smith, having secured a hundred, was hit by one that took off sharply. The incident left several players including Wagner shell-shocked. In an interview with skysports.com Wagner admitted that the incident had shaken him. Smith was called for immediate medical attention and the rest was history. Australia scored 370 in the second innings then, eventually winning the Trans-Tasman series.

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Steven Smith down after being struck by a bouncer © Getty Images

Some retirements are hard to digest

The year 2016 saw retirements of two greats of the sport. Both men were aggressive, and were renowned for their aggressive approaches towards the sport, and both bid adieu to the sport with proper farewells.

The swansong of Brendon McCullum, after 101 Tests and 6,453 runs, ended in a defeat, though not after the Australians gave New Zealand’s 224th Test cap a guard of honour. Baz’s retirement paved way for Kane Williamson.

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Australia give New Zealand legend Brendon McCullum a guard of honour in his final Test for the Black Caps © Getty Images

Far, far away in another continent, Tillakaratne Dilshan was the last survivor of Sri Lanka’s Fab Four. Thilan Samaraweera, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara had already quit, but Sri Lanka still had Dilshan. The match did not go well for Sri Lanka, but the spectators could not care less: Dilshan was applauded on his way to the ground and off it. The sound reverberates till today.

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Tillakaratne Dilshan given Guard of Honour on his final international appearance © AFP

Mascots of Muscat

Oman shocked everyone by winning their maiden World T20 appearance. They humbled Ireland, who are trying hard to attain Test status. Oman celebrated their 2-wicket victory like there was no tomorrow. Set to chase 155, the Oman dugout looked nervous yet hopeful. Though Australia had won a T20I series against South Africa the same day, Oman managed to pull the attention of newsrooms and social media, keeping T20I fanatics hooked to television screens.

The men jumped in ecstasy and danced and sang along the tunes of happiness. Though they did not reach the league stages of World T20, their celebrations were worth the capture.

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Oman overcame Ireland in a thrilling game to register their first win in the World T20 tournament © AFP

Humans make errors

To err is human, they say. Unfortunately, some errors result in the.

Kohli has had a fantabulous year. From Test double-centuries to back-to-back IPL centuries, he has been in the form of his life. Unfortunately, despite scoring 89* in the World T20 semi-final against West Indies, Kohli was summoned to perform his second suit. Kohli had to defend 8 from the last over. He even brought it down to 7 from 4, but Andre Russell finished things off with a four and a six.

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Virat Kohli was adjudged the player of the series in World T20 2016, but could not take India to the final © Getty Images

Ben Stokes’s final over in the World T20 final will be talked about for years to come. Marlon Samuels had done his part, but they still needed to score 19 off the last over. Carlos Brathwaite finished things off with four massive sixes. ‘Remember the name, Carlos Brathwaite’ Ian Bishop’s voice had boomed behind the microphone that day. Stokes not only remembered the name but also stayed away from media for days.

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Ben Stokes (Above) heartbroken after Carlos Brathwaite hit four sixes off his over to give West Indies their 2nd World T20 crown © Getty Images

After wrapping England for 297 at Edgbaston, Pakistan’s top-order stormed against England bowlers. Azhar Ali edged one on 38, but Joe Root dropped a simple catch. Azhar went on to score a century that helped Pakistan reach 400. It was all thanks to that one dropped catch. No wonder Root was compelled to hide his face.

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Joe Root (Above) is clearly distraught after dropping Azhar Ali on 38 © Getty Images

Maans and Womaans

They may not have won the World Cup for almost four decades now, but this year saw a sensational hat-trick from West Indies in ICC tournaments: they clinched the Under-19 World Cup, Women’s World T20 and World T20, all in the span of a few months. The last two victories came on the same day, for the matches were played one after another at Eden Gardens. Darren Sammy and Stafanie Taylor, the captains, appeared for the traditional photo-shoot.

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Stefanie Taylor (Left) and Darren Sammy with their respective World T20 2016 crowns, posing in front of the Victoria Memorial, Kolkata © AFP

Misbah, Misbah and Misbah all the way

Some men fall prey to age. Others win the challenge to emerge on top. Nobody has been more responsible for Pakistan’s ascent to No. 1 than the quadragenarian Misbah-ul-Haq. He announced himself at Lord’s with a century. There was a salute followed by age-defying push-ups; the rituals lasted until the end of the match. He also won the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award this year for his leadership and inspiring his teammates to play in true spirit of the game and leading Pakistan to the top of the rankings for the first time.

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Misbah-ul-Haq (Right) is jubilant after scoring his first ever century at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s © Getty Images

Prior to entering the phase of Test cricket, Pakistan attended fitness school where one could witness the players involved in rigorous and demanding workout at the Kakul’s Army School of Physical Training. A boot camp helped Pakistan seek redemption. That 75-run historical victory against England was celebrated with five press-ups and salute to the army led by veteran Younis Khan.

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Pakistan team with press-ups, following their win at Lord’s © Getty Images

Surprise, Surprise

Local fauna gracing cricket matches is not a new concept in cricket, but the tight securities of the modern era have ensured they do not happen very frequently. When Visakhapatnam hosted their first Test, a local dog decided it was time to reclaim its territory. Thus, when Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli kept England at bay, play was halted for several minutes. It also ensured an early tea. Kohli, a dog-lover himself, could not help but walk up to the adorable canine.

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Believe it or not, a dog forced early tea during the India vs England Test at Vizag © AFP

MS Dhoni and his stunners

New Zealand were left stunned by Dhoni’s run out of Ross Taylor during the third ODI without looking at the stumps. Dhoni collected the throw from Dhawal Kulkarni in front of the stumps, and without looking behind, managed to hit them with a backhand flick. It was the kind of things schoolboys dream of — a combination of swagger and brilliance.

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Just another day in the office for MS Dhoni. Photo Courtesy: Screengrab from Star Sports

Cricket is life in Bangladesh

Cricket in Bangladesh is known generate unmatched frenzy. If Bangladesh are on top you are bound to witness happy faces around; if their side is losing, the fans stay back anyway, rarely short on emotions.

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There’s little doubt that the Bangladesh supporters are always 100 per cent behind their team, all the time © Getty Images

Alastair Cook’s stumps left in splits

Vizag’s entertainment was not restricted to the canine. Cook has been dismissed early of late, but he had probably not expected his dismissal to become an iconic photograph. Mohammed Shami’s scorcher hit the top of off so hard that the stump was snapped into two.

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Alastair Cook’s off stump was not just uprooted, but was also broken in half by a brilliant Mohammed Shami delivery © AFP

Cheeky comments and lollies

Faf du Plessis led South Africa to a series win in Australia, but will be remembered more for his antics, both in press conferences or with lollipops. While his announced that he wanted to sleep with his ace fast bowlers (all in jest, of course), the lollipop incident left a sour taste in the mouth. Faf became the talk of every social media memes, newspapers or reports as soon as a video of him applying his saliva chewing mint surfaced on the internet post Australia’s Hobart defeat. He was charged his entire match fee, though he was allowed to play the final Test, where he was welcomed with boos and various signboards.

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the crowd really got into Faf du Plessis’ mintgate episode © Getty Images

Rang Barse Down Under

Thanks to IPL, India have become the new favourite destination of a substantial proportion of international cricketers. Glenn Maxwell became such a favourite that they affectionately called him Glenndeep Singh Maxwell in Punjab. He returned during World T20, and a few days ahead of Australia’s final league match at Mohali against India, Maxwell was seen dancing bhangra and enjoying the gulaal outside the team hotel. The joyous spirit pervaded in the streets of Chandigarh, and Maxwell could not contain his excitement to join the occasion.

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Gkenn Maxwell enjoys Holi World T20 2016 © Getty Images

When venues stole attention from cricket

Australia and New Zealand were all set for an intense contest at Canberra, but the focus of the cameras shifted elsewhere as the dusk spread over the ground. Some were so swayed, the comments surfacing on the internet summed it up, “How good is it to see James Faulkner in Australian colours…the sunset is ok too we guess.” However picturesque cricket is, nature probably still holds the upper hand.

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How can one focus on cricket when the setting is so darn beautiful? © Getty Images