Teams have come and teams have gone but none have been able to match the prowess of Virat Kohli and his men.
2017 has been a year with many ups and some downs for Indian cricket. However, very few would argue against the fact that India has had a delightful year. In the downs column, the biggest entry is the defeat in the Champions Trophy final at the hands of arch-rivals Pakistan.
However, even that defeat should be considered more of an achievement than a failure.
Apart from one-off defeats, the Men in Blue have been on a streak of wins in the home season both in Tests and ODIs. Teams have come and teams have gone but none have been able to match the prowess of Virat Kohli and his men.
Now it’s time to take a look at the biggest moments of Indian cricket in 2017.
India had comprehensively defeated Pakistan in the inaugural match of the Champions Trophy. The team stormed into the finals of the tournament, dropping just a single match on the way, entering the summit clash as clear favourites.
In the final, Pakistani opener Fakhar Zaman nicked one to the keeper off the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah when he was on 3. Before India could celebrate the dismissal, the umpire signalled a no-ball. Fakhar then went on to score 111 at a quick clip to take the game away from India.
In the second innings, the star-studded Indian batting line-up fell like a pack of cards. Other than Hardik Pandya, no batsman could get going as India were bundled out for 158. Pakistan won the match by 180 runs and as a result, laid their hands on the Champions Trophy.
In the 2nd ODI of the India-Australia series at Kolkata, the hosts were tasked with defending a modest total of 252 when chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav decided to step up his game big time.
The young bowling sensation dismissed Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins off successive deliveries to pick up his maiden hat-trick in International cricket.
Kuldeep became only the 3rd Indian to take a hat-trick in ODIs, after Chetan Sharma and Kapil Dev.
Rohit Sharma became the captain of the Indian team in the absence of Virat Kohli for the limited-overs leg of the Sri Lanka series. The opening match at Dharamsala proved a disaster for him both as a player and as a captain. Rohit departed for 2 runs as India were bowled out for 112 and suffered a crushing defeat.
However, he came back in the next match in his trademark style, piling up his 3rd double century in ODIs. His unbeaten 208 powered India to 394 and they went on to win the match by a healthy 141-run margin.
Rohit had already scored two double centuries in ODIs prior to this knock – 264 against Sri Lanka and 209 against Australia.
In October, Indian veteran pacer Ashish Nehra decided to hang up his boots. It was an emotional night in Delhi in the opening match of the 3-match T20I series against New Zealand, which also happened to be his farewell match. However, the good thing was that Nehra got a brilliant farewell, registering figures of 4-0-29-0.
Nehra, in the post-match press conference, said, “Luckily this game came to Delhi. I never asked for a farewell or anything. Like I’ve repeated, maybe this is God’s way of giving me this result for the work I’ve put in for the last eight to ten years.”
India has been on a winning streak in Test matches. They have not lost a Test series since the 2015 tour of Sri Lanka. Virat Kohli and co. have defeated the likes of West Indies, England, Australia and New Zealand on the way.
In this home season, they only lost one Test match, to Australia. After winning the series against Sri Lanka in December (1-0), the team also matched the streak of the mighty Aussies (2005-2008), winning nine consecutive Test series.
However, India still have a long way to go as West Indies (1980-1995) sit on top of the list of most consecutive series victories, with 29.
In a tournament that drew the attention of the Indian fans towards women’s cricket, the Indian women’s team made it to the finals of the Women’s World Cup, but missed out on lifting the trophy by a whisker. India reached the final after thrashing Australia in the semifinal courtesy Harmanpreet’s blistering knock of 171*.
This was the second time that they made the finals but failed to convert it into a win.
India was all set for a victory in the final against England but some loose shot-making cost them the match. Eventually, they crumbled under pressure and lost by 9 runs.
The beginning of 2017 brought a huge setback for Dhoni fans as he stepped down from the limited-overs captaincy in January. Akin to his Test retirement in Australia, Dhoni’s decision to quit suddenly broke in the media and left his fans tearful.
India’s most successful captain has played the third highest number of ODIs as skipper after Ricky Ponting and Stephen Fleming.
The passing of the baton from Dhoni to Virat Kohli has been seamless though as India’s performances have only improved in recent times. Dhoni still appears to be the chief strategist on the field, offering Virat valuable inputs.
Virat Kohli is in the form of his life. He is making full use of his purple patch, breaking one record after another. In October this year, Virat surpassed AB de Villiers to become the fastest to the 9000-run mark in ODIs.
He also has 32 ODI hundreds and is only behind Sachin Tendulkar, who has 49.
Dhoni is fondly known as the ‘fastest hands of the East’ for his speed behind the stumps. He collects the ball and clips off the bails in a jiffy, all in one motion. Every time Dhoni steps on the field, he breaks or threatens to break some record.
He achieved another distinction in September this year as he surpassed Kumar Sangakkara (99) to become the keeper with highest ODI stumpings. Dhoni became the only keeper to have amassed 100 stumpings.
Rohit Sharma notched the joint fastest T20I century in a game against Sri Lanka. In the 2nd T20I, he equalled David Miller’s record as he raced to his century off 35 balls. His 118-run knock came in a series that saw the Indian batting line-up make a mockery of the fragile Lankan bowling. It rained fours and sixes in Indore as India went on to notch the second highest T20I score – 260.