Indian Cricket Year in Review

Ashish Peter 25/12/2017
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2017 has been a year to remember for Virat Kohli and India.

It has been a year to cherish for Virat Kohli and his men in all formats of the game and they ended 2017 on a perfect note by completing a 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka in the T20I series.

The Men in Blue have maintained their grasp at the top of the ICC Test rankings and have ended the year behind only South Africa and Pakistan respectively in the ODI and T20I format.

Here, we take a look at the key talking points from a year which seen the Indian team scale new heights.

TEST DOMINATION

After seeing off England at home towards the end of 2016, India hosted Bangladesh for a one-off Test for the first time in their history and duly registered a 208-run victory.

Kohli’s men were then put under some intense pressure in the Test series against Australia. After losing the first Test in the four-match series, the hosts overcame stiff resistance from Steve Smith’s men to take the series 2-1.

They then created history in Sri Lanka by handing the islanders a 3-0 whitewash in their own backyard. This was the first time since 1967-68 that an Indian side had won three Test matches in an away series.

India then entertained Sri Lanka in a three-match series at home towards the end of the year and once again triumphed, albeit by a smaller margin of 1-0 this time.

It was a dominant year for India in Test cricket.

It was a dominant year for India in Test cricket.

ICC CHAMPIONS TROPHY DISAPPOINTMENT

Kohli’s troops were on song in the ICC Champions Trophy held in England in the summer where they beat the likes of Pakistan, South Africa and Bangladesh to enter the final as heavy favourites.

Their opposition in the summit tie were arch-rivals Pakistan in an encounter which had the cricket world licking its lips in anticipation. However, the Men in Blue were dealt a crushing defeat by a resurgent Sarfraz Ahmed-led side in perhaps their only disappointment in an otherwise unblemished year.

Kohli's men were handed a crushing defeat by Pakistan in the final.

Kohli’s men were handed a crushing defeat by Pakistan in the final.

VIRAT KOHLI’S YEAR TO REMEMBER

The Indian skipper might have led his side to some excellent wins in 2017 but it was his personal form with the bat which caught the eye.

The recently hitched 29-year-old performed admirably across all formats clocking in 2,818 international runs for the year, which is the third highest by any batsman in history. In the ODI format, the right-handed batsman went past Ricky Ponting’s record of 30 tons and is now only behind Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 hundreds.

He ended the year with two back-to-back double tons against Sri Lanka, making him the first skipper to score six double hundreds. The superstar cricketer registered 11 tons in 2017 – six in ODIs and five in Tests, another world record.

That he ended the year as the top ranked ODI batsman and behind only Steve Smith in Tests is a testament to the brilliant 2017 Kohli has had.

Kohli has had a stellar year individually.

Kohli has had a stellar year individually.

WRIST-SPIN THE NEW MANTRA FOR INDIA IN LIMITED-OVERS CRICKET

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been instrumental in India’s rise to the top of the Test rankings and the spin-twins have had stellar individual years. In the five-day format, Ashwin and Jadeja are the second and fourth highest wicket-takers respectively in the calendar year underlining their importance to the Indian side.

However, the Indian think tank has opted for a new direction in the limited-overs format since their Champions Trophy defeat to Pakistan. The senior spin pair has been sidelined in favour of the wrist-spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. The two spinners have been heavily amongst the wickets in ODIs and T20Is for India this year with Chahal capturing 44 wickets and Yadav scalping 34.

Chahal, along with Yadav, has emerged as India's preferred spin options.

Chahal, along with Yadav, has emerged as India’s preferred spin options.

INDIA’S RECORD YEAR

India’s victory over Sri Lanka in the final T20I at Mumbai meant that the hosts finished 2017 with 37 wins across all formats out of a total of 57 matches. This is the highest India have achieved in any year and only the second best in history behind Australia’s record of 38 wins in 2003.

India’s win/loss ratio of 3.1 is also the second best in history behind the same Aussie side of 2003 which had a staggering ratio of 4.8.

Overall, India won 37, losing 12 along with four matches with no result.

Kohli has led India to a record year in terms of results.

Kohli has led India to a record year in terms of results.

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Adelaide Oval invites Virat Kohli to get married at historic venue

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Adelaide Oval played host to the recently concluded second Ashes Test.

Of late, there has been speculation that India skipper Virat Kohli will be tying the knot soon with Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma.

The 29-year-old has been granted a break from the limited-overs matches against Sri Lanka and social media has been abuzz with rumours of an impending marriage for the Indian cricketing superstar.

Adelaide Oval, the picturesque and historic venue in Australia was recently host to the second Ashes Test which hosts Australia won to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Not content with hosting the first-ever day-night Ashes Test, the venue now wants to host Kohli’s marriage in case the Indian skipper does decide to take the plunge.

In an interview with the Hindustan Times, Adelaide Oval CEO Andrew Daniels extended an invitation to the celebrity couple, offering its world class facilities for their marriage ceremony.

“We would be thrilled to host Virat and Anushka’s wedding at Adelaide Oval. How fantastic would it be for Virat to create more happy memories here, considering his outstanding playing history at the Oval,” Daniels had said.

Kohli has scored three Test tons in four innings at the Adelaide Oval.

Kohli has scored three Test tons in four innings at the Adelaide Oval.

“With 26 purpose-built function spaces to choose from, combined with a showcase of South Australia’s finest food and wine it would be an unforgettable day for the future Mr and Mrs Kohli and their guests,” he added.

Kohli and the Adelaide Oval have a special relationship with the Indian batsman having scored more Test tons at the ground than any other venue in the sport.

In just four innings at the venue, Kohli has registered three of his 20 Test hundreds at a staggering average of 98.50! He has also notched an ODI ton at the same venue, making it a special ground for him personally.

It remains to be seem if there are any legs to the rumours about Kohli’s impending marriage but should the star cricketer ever decide to take the step, the Adelaide Oval sure would make a fitting venue.

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Sri Lanka bowler Suranga Lakmal vomits during smog-hit Delhi Test against India

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Unprecedented scenes of Sri Lankan cricketers wearing face masks have reignited debate about hosting major sports in heavily polluted New Delhi, where doctors are increasingly vocal about the health risks posed by smog.

Medics urged cricket’s governing body to revise its rulebook after the third Test match between India and Sri Lanka went ahead in the capital despite players visibly struggling and wheezing for air.

Sri Lankan fast bowler Suranga Lakmal vomited twice on the ground while fielding on day four of the match on Tuesday, before returning to the dressing room looking pale and sick.

Groundsmen rushed in to cover the spot with sand and sawdust as air pollution at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium soared to hit 15 times the World Health Organization’s safe level.

A doctor present at the stadium examined three Sri Lankan players and said their vitals were normal.

But the visiting side had complained of illness in the days before, with the match halted three times on Sunday as umpires consulted team doctors before allowing play to resume.

The Indian Medical Association condemned that decision, warning that playing in such conditions put athletes’ health at serious risk.

“This match should not have taken place in the first place. It is time the ICC (International Cricket Council) comes up with a policy on pollution,” said IMA president K. K Aggarwal.

“You have fast bowlers, batsmen and fielders out there exposed to these very harmful pollutants over five days at a stretch. It takes a serious toll on your health in the long run.”

The sport’s governing body declined to comment.

India’s powerful cricket board accused Sri Lanka of making a “big fuss”, pointing to Indian skipper Virat Kohli who hit a record sixth Test double century despite the smog.

India captain Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

India captain Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

But the US embassy website has repeatedly urged Delhi residents to “avoid all outdoor exertion” as concentrations of the smallest and most harmful airborne pollutants known as PM2.5 soared to hazardous levels.

These tiny particles — a fraction the size of human hair — lodge deep in the lungs and are linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease.

The concentration of such particles Tuesday hit 398 — compared to a maximum level of 25 considered safe by the World Health Organization over a 24-hour period.

Even limited exposure can cause shortness of breath and make the eyes weep and throat burn.

WAKE-UP CALL

Pollution levels generally rise during the winter in Delhi and across northern India and neighbouring Pakistan, fuelled by crop burning in the region and the fact that cooler air traps particulates close to the ground.

The smog has become especially alarming in the past two years, casting doubt on the future of sports events in the sports-mad swathe of South Asia.

“This should be a wake-up call for Pak. Our children are at a huge risk because of dangerous pollution levels,” tweeted former Pakistani captain and political opposition leader Imran Khan about the India-Sri Lanka Test.

Doctors and public health campaigners have escalated their fight against sports events in Delhi in recent years.

Last month more than 30,000 runners competed in the Delhi half-marathon — just days after smog shut schools amid a public health emergency in the capital.

Doctors warned of dire health consequences and challenged the race in court but it went ahead, with runners complaining of burning eyes and sore throats.

Greenpeace lobbied in October against India hosting the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, warning it posed unacceptable risks to the world’s youngest soccer stars.

It also proceeded but the schedule was adjusted to avoid Delhi at its worst.

“Others should also think about athletes health first,” tweeted tournament director Javier Ceppi after images of Sri Lankan cricketers wearing face masks went around the globe.

Other events in Delhi — like an Asian tour golf title in November and Indian Super League football matches — attract less controversy but doctors say pose no less risk.

“Ideally, sporting events should not be scheduled in the winter months in Delhi,” chest and lung cancer specialist Doctor Arvind Kumar told AFP.

“We cannot expose our athletes to inhuman levels of pollution just because a few hundred crores (10s of millions of dollars) is at stake.”

The Test debacle in Delhi is not the first time cricketers have complained of air pollution in the capital, with Australia citing smoggy air following their loss to India in 1996.

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