Sehwag and Dhoni in the race for Castrol Indian cricketer of the year

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Mumbai, Nov 17 (ANI/Business Wire India): Virender Sehwag and Indian Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni completed a fruitful season for India with some spectacular knocks that has propelled them to the top of the list for the Castrol Awards for Cricketing Excellence for the period January to 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 Finals, 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 1 slot for the Castrol Awards for Cricketing Excellence, with 54 points.

Close on his heels, with 50 points, is India's 'Captain Courageous' and new age poster boy, 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 3 slots among the top 5, 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 4th 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 5th spot for the Castrol Awards with 39 points.

With the India - England series going on, it will be a really exciting battle between Sehwag and Dhoni for the Castrol Indian Cricketer of the Year Award. As has been done over the years, the top five players on points will form the shortlist of the finalists and the Award for the Castrol Indian Cricketer of the Year will be based on votes cast by all Indian cricketers - past and present.

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.

ANI

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