2017’s top 10 — Indian men's cricket team: Kohli & Co keeps fans’ interest on the boil

Team India remained unbeaten in contests against England, Australia, West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, apart from a runner-up position in the Champions Trophy, where Pakistan defeated Virat Kohli & Co. by a huge margin at The Oval.

India captain Virat Kohli (with a stump in hand) and his team-mates walk off the filed after the third Test against Sri Lanka ends in a draw at the Kotla in New Delhi. India won the series 1-0. Team India, thus, ended the year on a triumphant note.   -  PTI

It was a fabulous year for Indian cricket. Team India remained unbeaten in contests against England, Australia, West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, apart from a runner-up position in the Champions Trophy, where Pakistan defeated Virat Kohli & Co. by a huge margin at The Oval.

Kohli strode like a colossus, excelling in all formats of the game, but his fallout with coach Anil Kumble was a sore point that also showed the BCCI in poor light. Ravi Shastri, as expected, returned as India coach in place of Kumble even though the Board conducted fresh interviews with other candidates like Virender Sehwag, Tom Moody, Lalchand Rajput and Dodda Ganesh.

The year 2017 saw new talent such as Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Basil Thampi being rewarded, even as seniors like Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane promised to maintain their momentum. The comeback of Parthiv Patel was a pleasant development for the wicketkeeper-batsman, who led Gujarat to its first-ever Ranji Trophy title win.

It was, however, Kohli’s awesome form that kept the fans glued. He rounded off the year with back-to-back double centuries against Sri Lanka at home, as India dominated the Test series. True, the opposition was not as strong as the critics would have wanted it to be, but it was a tribute to Kohli’s form and commitment that he inspired India to great heights.

India’s Test wins against Bangladesh, Australia and Sri Lanka were unsurprising. Its lone Test defeat came in Pune against Australia.

India had to work hard to beat Bangladesh in the one-off Test in Hyderabad.

Among other events was Ashish Nehra’s retirement. He was accorded a T20 match against New Zealand in Delhi and Nehra signed off in style. Apart from Sachin Tendulkar, the left-arm seamer was the only player to receive such a farewell.

On the field India proved unbeatable, but off it the Board’s image continued to take a beating, as the Supreme Court continued to slam the administration. It is to the credit of the players that they kept the fans’ interest in place.

The laurels

Beat Eng 2-1

ODIs

Beat Eng 2-1

T20Is

Beat Bangla

Only Test

Beat Aus 2-1

Tests

Champions Trophy

Runner-up

Beat Windies 3-1

ODIs

Beat Lanka 3-0

Tests

Beat Lanka 5-0

ODIs

Beat Lanka

T20I

Best Aus 4-1

ODIs

Beat NZ 2-1

ODIs

Beat NZ 2-1

T20Is

Beat Lanka 1-0

Tests

Beat Lanka 2-1

ODIs

Beat Lanka 3-0

T20Is

 

M. S. K. Prasad: We are high on confidence

On a high of unprecedented success, mostly at home, India is now ready to face its first big test in South Africa. The team led by Virat Kohli is showing all the right signs and with it, there is also a rise in expectations of a thrilling series.

At this point, it is imperative to know from the man who headed the selection committee that did a commendable job. As is his wont, M.S.K. Prasad remains humble and focussed on the job in hand. In a chat with Sportstar, he reflects on the past season and the ensuing series against South Africa.

On India’s success at home: “In the past season, the team has delivered day-in and day-out. And more importantly, when I look at everything from a positive angle — since we played all these matches at home — our confidence, too, stands boosted. This has really got our boys ready for the bigger challenges in 2018. We have become stronger in all departments.

On the upcoming tour of South Africa:

“We are high on confidence. We are top in Test cricket, and we are going to South Africa as the World No. 1. Had we been going abroad low on confidence, things would have been totally different. If the boys carry on with their form, carry on the way they are, for the next five years this will be an unbeatable side. We are meeting all three top teams (South Africa, England and Australia) in 2018 in their den. So, if we can come out successful in 2018, for the next five years India will never look back. In the process, they will set certain goals for generations together to emulate.

RAKESH RAO