2013: Best year for Team India ever

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 28, 2013 10:22 hrs

Out of all the ODIs India has played this year, it has registered 22 wins versus 8 losses. That means we won 73% of our matches. In terms of a win-loss ratio, that stands at an impressive 2.75. This could be the highest that India has seen ahead of 2.37 in 2008.

In terms of series, we have won 6 series on the trot and that includes the all-important ICC Champions Trophy that was played under the tough conditions of England. It was a tournament victory at par with the World Cup and there were many exciting matches including a nail-biting final.

The year also saw the extremely high-scoring series against Australia where India chased a target of 350+ twice. It was a fitting battle between the top 2 teams of the world (in terms of ICC rankings).

Not only has MS Dhoni registered a great year of captaincy, but all our batsmen had sterling batting averages for 2013.

Here are the batting averages for our top batsmen for 2013: Dhoni 66.9, Virat Kohli 56.2 (4 centuries, 3 while chasing), Rohit Sharma 55.2 (including a double century) and Shikhar Dhawan 54.8 (including five centuries in five odd months).

To look at the dominance of the Top 3 in ODIs, one can only think of Desmond Haynes (17 centuries), Gordon Greenidge (11) and Vivian Richards (11) when West Indies were at their peak. 

Kohli also managed to equal Richards’ record of getting 5000 runs in 114 innings. It is difficult to believe that Kohli already has 17 centuries with most of them coming during successful run chases.

In chases this year itself, he has 3 centuries, 3 half-centuries and 3 handy 20s. There is no doubt that Kohli is heading to be the greatest ODI chaser of all time and may even go past Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries.

Among the bowlers, Sir Ravindra Jadeja became the first ICC ODI No. 1 bowler for India after Anil Kumble. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami had great debuts and Amit Mishra had a brilliant series with Zimbabwe. 

The Test scene was even better. This is the first time we have won all the Test matches we have played in the year: 6/6. This includes our first ever whitewash against Australia 4-0 which saw Dhawan’s sensational debut and Murali Vijay emerged as the top run-getter.

Our No. 7 position in the Test batting order is also becoming a highly competitive position with Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja being the candidates.

With the departure of the last of the old-guard in the form of Sachin Tendulkar, the new order has firmly taken over. 

In the international T20 scene, India played 14 matches in 2012 and just one in 2013! For the record we won that match and hence technically claim a 100% record. This is not ideal preparation for the 2014 T20 World Cup, but one probably thinks that the BCCI finds the IPL to be practice enough.

All in all we won 29 international matches and lost just 8.

Of course now all these performances will be severely tested. We now head to the toughest pitches against the toughest team in international cricket in the form of South Africa. But you have to say we have the right team for the job. 

No matter how great Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Tendulkar were, the 0-8 overseas Test debacle firmly brought that era to an end. The whitewashes in England and Australia were pretty ugly and there was no way we could have taken the same team to South Africa.

There were calls to sack Dhoni (and rightly so), but he has come back with a bang and South Africa will be his defining moment.

Kohli, Dhawan and Rohit will have a trial by fire. Zaheer Khan will get a second chance. Bhuvi and Shami will finally get pitches that will show what their worth is.

While we remain favourites for the ODI series, the Proteas have the clear edge in Tests. The only travesty is that a four-match series has been shortened to a two-match one, otherwise it would have been a real mouth-watering feast for the die-hard fans.

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.