Turnaround of the year: Rohit Sharma.
From 2007-12, Rohit had just one international century against a Top 8 team, was let go by Deccan Chargers in the IPL and warmed the Test bench without getting a chance to play. 2013 changed all that.
He won both the IPL and Champions League as captain. He scored 177 on Test debut. And in ODIs he gained new life as an opener. His ODI record for 2013: 1196 runs at an average of 52 including a mammoth 209 that put him at par with Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
Debut of the year: Shikhar Dhawan.
Dhawan had his ODI debut in 2010 and international T20 debut in 2011 without exactly setting the record books on fire. But his Test entry this year proved to be just that. It’s not often that a Test debutant blasts 187 off 174 balls in a rare whitewash of a series. His ODI career has also
been revived. In 2013, he has scored 1162 runs at an average of 50.5 and a strike rate of 97.9!
Controversy of the year: N Srinivasan.
When the IPL match-fixing scandal broke, first the Chennai Super Kings, then Meiyappan and finally his father head honcho Srinivasan got dragged into the controversy. After a huge furore when Srinivasan tried to give himself a clean chit (like the ruling government does), he had to
step down. But still he ruled by proxy and is currently still making all the decisions of the BCCI.
Villain of the year: S Sreesanth.
Sreesanth has always been the bad boy of Indian cricket. Inconsistency. Sledging. Being in and out of the team. He’s seen it all. But this time he crossed the line when he was involved in the IPL match-fixing scam. With the way things are going in India, he might just eventually get off
the hook. He ended the year in style by marrying into a royal family!
Omission of the year: Pervez Rasool.
Spinner Rasool was being touted as the first Kashmiri who would play for Team India, till it was pointed out that Suresh Raina also has his roots there. However there was a huge controversy when he didn’t get a chance to play the ODI series against Zimbabwe. Headlines next day just
went berserk. However Amit Mishra picked up 18 wickets in the series and Sir Ravindra Jadeja emerged as the ICC No. 1 ODI bowler soon after, justifying their not being rested for Rasool.
Disappointment of the year: Yuvraj Singh.
This year in the only international T20 he played, Yuvi hit a blistering 77 not out off 35 balls with 5 sixes as we chased down a stiff target of 202 against Australia. However that was it. In the 18 ODIs he played, he averaged just 19.7 and failed to make a single century. This was all the
more problematic for him because the rest of the batsmen were among the runs. Also with the way the new guard performed, Yuvi’s Test career may be officially over. His ODI one is under threat too.
Sickening Deja vu of the year: South Africa.
From 2003-11, we performed well in Tests on foreign soil. Then the 0-4 Test debacle took place in England. It happened again in Australia. With South Africa thrashing us in the ODI matches, things seemed quite gloomy. But the thrilling draw in the first Test at the Wanderers saw our
losing streak on foreign soil end.
Pleasant Deja vu of the year: MS Dhoni & Virat Kohli.
Dhoni continued to win India tournaments and perform well with the bat and Kohli’s centuries continued to help India chase stiff targets in ODIs.
Comeback of the year: Zaheer Khan.
Zaks didn’t play a single international match in 2012 and the story was the same till the end of 2013. Just when it looked like he had been retired, the BCCI picked him up for the South Africa Test series.
He made a great comeback at the Wanderers picking up the 4 wickets including the key ones of captain Graeme Smith and half-centurion Vernon Philander who was leading a fight back by the tail.
If he stays fit, then he could even play in the subsequent Test series in England!
Grand exit of the year: Sachin Tendulkar.
In 2013, Sachin averaged a just about a decent 34.5 in 6 Test matches without a single century. But he was in the news for all non-cricketing reasons. First the South Africa 4-Test series was cut short and a 2-Test West Indies series materialized which happened to be Sachin’s farewell tour. In the Kolkata Test, 199 kgs of rose petals were to have been dropped from a plane in his honour and in the final Test in Mumbai, the BCCI went all out to give Sachin a grand farewell. A Bharat Ratna soon followed.
Quiet exit of the year: Rahul Dravid.
Dravid announced his retirement from IPL and as usual it was overshadowed. This time by Sachin’s IPL retirement and the match-fixing scandal that cast a cloud on the Rajasthan Royals.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/