Dhoni, Sehwag in race for Castrol Awards For Cricketing Excellence

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Mumbai, Nov 17 (UNI) Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and vice captain Virender Sehwag, with their superlative and consistent performances this year, are sitting on the top of the list for the Castrol Awards for Cricketing Excellence for the period January 2008 - December 2008.

Starting with the Asia Cup in June 2008, Sehwag marked a blistering return to form in one-day international cricket, with a pulsating century against Pakistan in the group stages. This was followed by a quick-fire knock of 60 in the final, which nearly upset the defending champions Sri Lanka.

The ''Nawab of Najafgarh'' was in his element during India's torrid Test tour of Sri Lanka, excelling with a scintillating double century against the spin duo of Murali and Mendis. Sehwag's consistent run in Test cricket carried on to the recent Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India, with some solid starts at the top of the order. These performances firmly place him at the number one slot for the Castrol Awards for Cricketing Excellence, with 54 points, a release issued here today stated.

Close on his heels, with 50 points, is India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose innovative and inspirational leadership helped India regain the Border-Gavaskar trophy by a convincing 2-0 margin.

Team India's young guns, and the future nucleus of the team, captured the other three slots among the top five, with match-winning efforts. Harbhajan Singh found some fine bowling rhythm against the Australians, picking up crucial wickets in the Mohali and Nagpur Tests, and chipping in with match turning half centuries in Bangalore and Nagpur, to grab the third position with 43 points.

The Delhi duo of Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma dominated the Australia series with performances symbolic of their overwhelming cricketing talent. Gambhir was the top scorer with 463 runs, including a fine double century on his home ground, to capture the fourth spot with 41 points.

Ishant Sharma, India's new fast bowling sensation, stormed away to 15 wickets in the Australia Test series, displaying phenomenal pace and accuracy on placid and docile Indian tracks, to take the fifth spot for the Castrol Awards with 39 points.

The annual Castrol awards for cricketing excellence were instituted in 1997-98. The rating system takes into account performances by Indian cricketers in international matches during the calendar year, the release added.

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