Dominant India enjoy best year in ODIs in 2017, tougher quests ahead
India enjoyed a grand run in bilateral ODI series in 2017 besides entering the ICC Champions Trophy final where they lost to Pakistan; sterner tests await them in 2018 with tours to South Africa, England and Australia.cricket Updated: Dec 19, 2017 08:49 IST
India’s eight-wicket win against Sri Lanka at the ACA-VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam helped them clinch the series 2-1 and end a magnificent 2017 when they didn’t lose a single bilateral series. It was India’s record eighth bilateral series win in a row, and ninth straight win over Sri Lanka.
In terms of numbers, this was a fruitful year. India played 29 matches, won 21 and lost seven with one no result. The win-loss percentage of three is their best ever, beating their previous mark of 2.375 under MS Dhoni in 2008.
From the Pune ODI on January 15 to the Visakhapatnam game on Sunday, key factors have contributed to the dominance.
Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma - The 1000-club men
Both batsmen scored six centuries and enjoyed the best year in terms of career aggregates. Kohli smashed 1460 runs at an average of 76.84 while Rohit piled up 1293 runs, averaging 71.83. Their performances have given Indian batting a big edge. In every series, either of them has played one big knock that has taken the game away from the opposition.
Hardik Pandya - game-changer
Hardik Pandya came of age in 2017. The 24-year-old’s first big knock came in a losing cause, in the ICC Champions Trophy final against Pakistan when he blasted 76 off 43 balls. But his ability to change the game came to the fore in the series against Australia.SG
In Chennai, with India reeling at 87/5, Pandya chose his moment to blast three consecutive sixes off leggie Adam Zampa to change the match. His 118-run stand with MS Dhoni proved vital in the win. In the third ODI in Indore, he held his nerve to score 78 off 72 balls, giving India the series. Pandya also chipped in with the ball, taking 31 wickets in 28 games. Pandya’s presence gives India’s batting a formidable look.
Kuldeep and Chahal - new spin twins
India saw the emergence of the new spin twins, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Both played 14 games and each time, India witnessed something special.
In the Kolkata ODI against Australia, Chinaman bowler Kuldeep took a hat-trick. Chahal has chipped in with wickets while keeping the runs down in the death overs in almost every series. With both bowlers having an economy rate of less than five, India’s bowling looks menacing.
Challenges for India
Despite all the success for India, challenges still remain. On two green, seaming wickets in the series against Sri Lanka at Kolkata and Dharamsala, the batsmen were found wanting.
The middle-order remains India’s weak point. When Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli fall cheaply, batsmen coming in next have struggled to take up the challenge, as was the case in the Champions Trophy final against Pakistan. So many players being tried and dropped hasn’t helped.
If Kohli’s team can achieve a series win overseas, then the achievements of 2017 will have greater perspective.