This year in Indian cricket by every yardstick is spectacular. India mostly played at home and dominated all the teams and formats. Close to seventy percent win ratio across all formats is the proof of the fact that in 2017 Indian squad found the formula to convert their ability into performances.
The year started with England One Day side returning to India to finish the remainder of the series and maybe look to win the rubber in at least one format, but their fortunes didn’t change. This was probably the toughest challenge India faced in bi-lateral limited overs cricket against perhaps one of the better limited over sides in the world. Unlike Test Cricket, England was competitive and tested India’s depth and character. However, somehow India managed to pull themselves out of every situation with distinction. Old warriors like Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni rewove their magic, and new heroes like Kedar Jadhav and Yuzvendra Chahal stood up to the challenge and delivered when it mattered.
Just like One day and T20 Cricket, India’s most dangerous encounter in Test cricket also came in the first half of the year. It was Australia, who came well prepared to counter Indians in Indian conditions. Credit goes to the Aussies for winning the first Test in Pune in the ‘most Indian conditions.’ The pitch was full of turn, and venom and Australians managed to beat India in their own game. That was a moment of reckoning for the Indian cricket team. Trailing 1-0 in the series, their character and capabilities were under the scanner, and they raised their game to beat the opposition. The series that started with a dust bowl in Pune ended on the green, bouncy and seaming conditions in Dharamshala. On a wicket that behaved more like the Gabba in Brisbane India out batted, out bowled and more importantly out bounced Australia to win the series.
The Champions Trophy again showed the invincible side of the Indians till the time they reached the finals to face their, arch-rivals, Pakistan. You can call it one bad day in the office or thanks to ‘Mauka Mauka’ add, Indian cricket fans long overdue pompousness of assuming India will always beat Pakistan – at-least in ICC tournaments- had to crash at some stage.
In the second half of the cricket season, Virat and his men consolidated all that they did in the first half itself. Beating Sri Lanka, West Indies, Australia and New Zealand wasn’t a big challenge for India. India ended the year as they started, on a high with a win.
This was a year when India found two good wrist spinners in Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav and entrusted and invested in them to enrich India’s bowling in the shorter format. In Yadav, India also found the mystery weapon to demolish sides.
This was also a year when India found the rarest of the rare breed in Indian cricket, An allrounder. In Hardik Pandya India found a man who can win them matches with both bat and ball and provide much-needed balance and more options while playing abroad.
In Test cricket, this was the year of Cheteshwar Pujara. He remained the foundation stone on which Indian cricket stood and flourished. In the bowling department, there weren’t many surprises and spinners dominated the scene. But the biggest story of this year was the fast bowlers of Indian Team. Whenever they got a greenish wicket to bowl on, the opposition batsmen were dancing to their tunes. Swing or seam, bounce or speed, Indian bowlers had all the arsenal to trouble the opposition batsmen.
Likes of Bhuvneshwar, Shami, Umesh, Bumrah and Ishant are India’s most significant hope in 2018 where they venture out to counter bigger challenges.
2017 was a milestone year for Indian in more than many ways. But now that’s history and this part of Indian cricket history will be defined by the progress India makes in 2018.