India enjoyed a dominant home season as they swept aside New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia. Out of 13 Tests played, they won 10, drew two and lost only one Test. The series win over Australia in the fourth and final Test at the HPCA ground in Dharamsala meant that Virat Kohli’s team now held a series win against all test playing nations at the same time.
In the course of the season, there were contributions from members of the Indian cricket team that turned the course of the match and the series. Here is a look at the five most valuable Indian players in the 2016/17 season
The 2016/17 season saw Ravichandran Ashwin enhance his reputation as one of the best spinners in the world. He bowled a total of 737.8 overs, picked up 82 wickets and played a key part in series wins over New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia.
He picked up 28 wickets in five games against England and his contribution helped India break an eight-year jinx against England. During the Australia series, he became the fastest to reach 25 five-wicket hauls after his match-winning spell in Bangalore
If Ashwin ran through oppositions, Ravindra Jadeja ensured that he gave Ashwin the platform. On many occasions, Jadeja would do Ashwin’s job and run through oppositions, as witnessed in Chennai Test against England where he picked up 7/48 and claimed his maiden 10-wicket haul. Against Australia, he achieved 25 wickets and ended up as the leading wicket-taker in the series.
With the bat, he made some vital contributions against all the four teams. He became only the second Indian all-rounder after Kapil Dev to score over 500 runs and take over 50 wickets.
He bowled tirelessly at pace. He bowled in excess of 140 kmph. He generated swing and reverse swing. If India have had a real hero who toiled away, it was Umesh Yadav. He bowled over 300 overs in conditions that rarely aided the fast bowlers.
His crowning glory, though was against Australia. He troubled all the batsmen with swing and reverse swing and his exhibition of bowling in the Dharamsala Test blew the fans away. He regularly clocked over 140 kmph and troubled Australia with their own weapons of pace and bounce. His mixture of smart and aggressive bowling helped India put the pressure on Australia at all times.
Many people felt that India would miss the services of Mahendra Singh Dhoni after his retirement from Tests. The 2016/17 season has blown those doubts away, thanks to the emergence of Wriddhiman Saha. He started with unbeaten fifties on a difficult wicket in Kolkata against New Zealand as he won the Man of the Match.
An injury during the England series meant that there was competition with Parthiv Patel but once he was fit, he slotted right back in. A hundred against Bangladesh and a vital 117 in Ranchi against Australia showed how his batting had evolved. In addition to wonderful keeping and catching, Saha’s contribution in the DRS procedure was vital as India got a feel of a technology that they had initially avoided.
The ‘new wall’ of the Indian team, or more aptly, the ‘rock’ of the Indian team. He contributed at all times during the season. England found him very hard to dislodge as he complimented Virat Kohli’s aggressive approach with calm and composed batting scoring 401 runs at an average of 50.12. In the Australia series, he played the knock that changed the series.
His 92 on a difficult Bangalore track and his 118-run stand with Ajinkya Rahane turned the tables on Steve Smith’s team as India won the match by 75 runs. In Ranchi, he became only the second Indian after Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman to smash two double tons against Australia. In Dharamsala, his vital fifty on a difficult pitch ensured India ended the season on a high.