As 2016 draws to a close, here’s a look at the year that it was for Indian cricket. There were plenty of ups and down, but India ended the year on a high, with some fabulous victories against England. A recap.
India tour of Australia 2016: In a high-scoring ODI series, India constantly notched up scores of 300 or close to those, but yet ended up losing the series 1-4 as Australia’s batting might came to the fore. Rohit Sharma stood tall for India with 441 runs, and was adjudged the man of the series. The tournament is also remembered for Manish Pandey’s hundred, which helped India clinch the only win. India had revenge of sorts by blanking Australia 3-0 in the T20s. Virat Kohli stood out with 199 runs.
Asia Cup triumph: After defeating Sri Lanka 2-1 at home in the T20s, India went into the Asia Cup as favourites. India remained unbeaten in the tournament, but faced an inspired hosts Bangladesh in the final, who had gotten the better of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India romped home to victory by eight wickets, to head into the WT20 on a high.
Shocked in WT20: Hosts India were expected to win, but got off to a disastrous start, going down to New Zealand in the opening game. After overcoming Pakistan, there was the tight finish against Bangladesh, featuring MS Dhoni’s famous run-out. India qualified for the semi-finals, but the brutal strength of West Indies’ batting outdid them. Virat Kohli’s 89 was in vain, as Lendl Simmons smashed 82 to take Windies to the final.
Expected victory in West Indies: India won the opening Test at North Sound in Antigua, courtesy skipper Virat Kohli’s maiden double hundred. India failed to clinch the series at Sabina Park as Roston Chase’s 137 saw the hosts save the game. In the final Test at Gros Islet, Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha hit hundreds, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar then picked up a five-for as India won the Test by 237 runs, and the series 2-0.
India whitewash Kiwis 3-0: The New Zealanders were no match for India either with the bat or ball. India won the first Test at Kanpur by 197 runs and the second at Kolkata by 178 runs. In the final Test at Indore, they produced at 321-run triumph as Kohli hit his second Test double hundred, and Ajinkya Rahane made 188. Ashwin was the man of the series for his 27 wickets. The ODIs were closely contested, but India ended up winning 3-2.
An English humiliation: The year ended with a 4-0 trouncing of England in the Tests at home. It had been eight years since India had last beaten England in a Test series, and they definitely seemed inspired. Skipper Kohli led from the front. He came up with his third double ton, a career best 235 at Mumbai. In all, he finished with 655 runs at an average of over 100. Ashwin was again among the wickets. He finished with 28. There was excellent support from Ravindra Jadeja, and Jayant Yadav, the find of the series, as India ended 2016 on a high.
--By A Cricket Analyst