2008 was a spectacular for the Indian team. We are now approaching the end of the year and India is ranked no 2 in Tests and 3 in ODI’s, being only marginally behind the 2nd placed South Africans. This thread will consider those individuals who made this possible for India, and also those who were not that impressive.
In ODI’s, the three best batsmen of India were the openers Sehwag, Gambhir and Dhoni, averaging 50, 47 and 58 respectively. However special mention must also be made of Suresh Raina who clobbered 680 runs in 19 matches at a striking average of 45. In fact, it won’t be wrong to say from the ODI batting point of view, this year belonged to the left handers Gambhir and Raina who were not as impressive before this year. From the batting point of view the two disappointments have to be Rohit Sharma and Robin Uthappa. Waqar Younas famously said, “This Robin, he is a good Batman” but that was not the case in 2008 because Robin only averaged 20 from 13 matches.
Sharma was touted as the next big thing of the Indian batting line-up, but he could only muster an average of 25 in 28 matches.
On the bowling front, Zaheer Khan was the key bowler taking 17 wickers at an average of 20 and strike rate of 30 balls per wicket. However Ishant Sharma was the pleasant revelation for India, being the leading wicket taker with 27 wickets from 19 matches at a wicket per every 33 balls.
Praveen Kumar also deserves mention for his 21 wickets in 14 games.
In Tests, India’s most successful batsmen were again unsurprisingly, Gambhir and Sehwag.
Gambhir averaged 71, which has to be one of the highest averages of all time in a calender year. Gambhir has provided some sense and stability to the Indian top order which India had been looking for some time. His consistency this year was unbelievable and he smashed 3 hundreds and 6 50’s. The best aspect of Gambhir’s technique is the way he can switch very easily between attack and defence. Sehwag averaged 56 in 2008.
Tendulkar was the 3rd most successful batsman of the Indian line-up, showing some consistency this year and fans will be hoping this consistency remains. He averaged 48 with 4 hundreds and 3 50’s.
Rahul Dravid was a disappointment this year, with many
people including Sunil Gavaskar calling for his retirement. Dravid averages 31 this year but more than figures, what was saddening to see was his slow reflexes and vulnerable defence. He did strike a century in India’s last Test of the year, but it remains to be seen whether that will save his place in the team.
Ganguly was also not brilliant this year but he has retired from international cricket as one of the best batsmen to ever play for India and the best captain India produced.
India bowled very well in Test cricket this year and all the leading bowlers have negligible difference in stats. India’s leading bowlers were Harbhajan,
Ishant, Kumble, Mishra and Zaheer. From this list, Mishra should be considered in some detail because he made his debut this year. Mishra bowled in the right places, applied pressure and took wickets when they mattered. India did not miss the legspin of Anil Kumble because the new kid on the block, Amit Mishra, is very good and he left everyone behind.
Speaking of Kumble, 2008 also saw this legend’s exit from the game. Kumble was India’s greatest match winner, and the travesty is that he never got appreciated for it. Appreciation or no appreciation, his name was always be mentioned amongst the legends of Indian cricket.
No bowler playing a reasonable number of matches disappointed for India in Tests, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why India is placed at no 2 in the world today.
So many names to mention and so many astounding performances; this was an amazing year for the Indian cricket team. The world order in international cricket definitely seems to be changing and it seems soon there will be 3 top sides in the world as opposed to just 1. India is quite busy in 2009 and the way things are going at the moment, it is very likely we will sing the same praises for the Indian team this time next year.