Michael Clarke's decision to retire in the middle of an Ashes series was one of the biggest surprises of 2015 © Getty Images
Michael Clarke’s decision to retire in the middle of an Ashes series was one of the biggest surprises of 2015 © Getty Images

The year 2015 saw many performances that took the world by surprise. As  a fan is really nice to see such performances as you do not expect them and one is pleasantly surprised, even if it comes against the team that you support. 2015 is history now and one sincerely hopes that even 2016 produces such memorable performances. The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was a special tournament, which saw the rise of teams like Bangladesh and Ireland. The year also saw South Africa’s nine-year unbeaten run in away Test series come to an end. Pramod Ananth picks out moments from the year, which surprised everyone.

Michael Clarke and Ryan Harris retire: Clarke led Australia to their fifth World Cup win in March and his international career came to an end after the Ashes 2015. After Australia’s humiliating loss at Trent Bridge, Clarke announced that he will call time on his career after the final Ashes Test at The Oval. Australia won the final Test with ease but conceded the series 2-3. READ: 2015 Yearender: From World Cup highs to Ashes lows, Australia lost more than they

Harris on the other hand had to retire even before the Ashes began. Harris was not part of Australia’s World Cup squad so that he can prepare for the Ashes. Sadly for him and Australia, his recurring injury on the right knee got the better of him and he retired just a few days before the Ashes, leaving everyone puzzled. READ: 2015 Yearender: Cricketers who bid adieu to the sport this year

Australia bowled for 60 at Trent Bridge: England were rampant in their approach and were determined to seal the series with one game to spare. Stuart Broad finished with figures of 8 for 15 as Australia were bundled out for just 60 in 18.3 overs, one of their lowest scores in history. Australia never managed to recover from that and lost the match by an innings and 78 runs. England, courtesy of this win had regained the Urn.

Bangladesh beating England in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Bangladesh had a dream year, which started with them beating England in the World Cup and qualifying for the knockout stage of the mega event for the first time in their history. The win meant that England were knocked out of the World Cup as well. Bangladesh rode on a century from Mahmudullah and posted 275. England fell 15 runs short despite of half-centuries from Ian Bell and Jos Buttler.

Bangladesh ODI series wins at home: Bangladesh continued their dream run from the World Cup registering home series wins against Pakistan, India and South Africa.  Bangladesh. They followed it up with back-to-back 2-1 wins, first over neighbours India and then against South Africa. Bangladesh might still be an ordinary team in Tests, but their resurgence in One-Day Internationals (ODI) is commendable.

Afghanistan register ODI, T20I series wins vs Zimbabwe: Afghanistan registered their first ever series win against a Test playing nation when the beat Zimbabwe 3-2 in the ODI series and completed a clean sweep over the same opponents in the T20I series. They will also play in the ICC World T20 2016 and are capable of causing an upset or two. READ: Yearender 2015: Top 10 most thrilling Tests

Dean Elgar’s spell against India at Mohali: South Africa opener Dean Elgar did a lot of damage with his part-time slow left-armers as he picked up four wickets in the first Test at Mohali. Elgar dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha and Amit Mishra to finsish with figures of 4 for 22 — his best figures in First-Class cricket.

South Africa’s approach in Delhi Test vs India: The Proteas had already lost the series going ito the fourth Test at Feroz Shah Kotla and had nothing but pride to play for. The series loss meant that they had lost an away series for the first time in nine years. South Africa were set a target of 481 to win the match with almost two days to go. The pitch was deteriorating and became slow as the game had progressed. South Africa knew that they could not get the target and went on a blocking spree. They scored only 72 runs in 72 overs on Day Four and looked set to block their way to a draw on Day Five. Bit a magical spell from Umesh Yadav after the tea break won India the match. Hashim Amla had scored 25 off 244 deliveries, AB de Villiers took 297 balls to score 43. Sadly for the visitors, they were handed 337-run defeat. READ: 2015 Yearender: Top 10 moments from Test cricket

Inclusion of Ashish Nehra and Brainder Sran for Australia tour: Nehra last played an international match against Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and his last T20I came against South Africa in the same year. Nehra performed incredibly well in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015, picking up 22 wickets in 16 matches for Chennai Super Kings (CSK). He along with Yuvraj Singh have made comebacks into the Indian side and will play a role in the T20I series against Australia.

The biggest surprise was perhaps the inclusion of Punjab fast bowler, Sran. Sran is an opening lef-arm fast bowler for Punjab, who picked up 14 wickets in seven matches at an economy rate of over six. He is apparently a good bowler in the death with good pace. He may go for runs, but will pick up those crucial wickets as well. He will be an asset, if he gets to make his international debut in Australia.

Rise of Mustafizur Rahman: Mustafizur has been nothing short of a revelation for Bangladesh in 2015. On his international debut he claimed five wickets and followed it up with a six-wicket haul, both against India to help his side register a series win against their neighbours. He also picked up three wickets in an over on his Test debut against South Africa and ended up registering the second best  bowling figures by a Bangladesh pace bowler on debut. READ: Yearenders 2015: 22 best quotes from cricketers this year

Return of international cricket in Pakistan: It was wonderful to see cricket return to Pakistan after nearly nine years. Zimbabwe were the first to visit the troubled nation for the first time since the terror attack in Lahore, which left many Sri Lankan players injured in 2006. It was a well-contested series with Pakistan winning the ODI and T20I series, much to the delight of the fans.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)