Flashback 2016: India's top 10 cricketers of the year; Virat Kohli a class apart

A year that started with a 4-1 humiliation in ODIs against Australia in Australia took a 360 turn in the very next T20I series, as Men In Blue whitewashed Kangaroos in their own backyard.

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New Delhi, Dec 27: Indian cricket team has had some remarkable achievements in the outgoing year 2016, which fans and cricketers are going to cherish for long.

A year that began with a humiliating in 4-1 ODI series loss against Australia in Australia, took a 360 turn in the very next T20I series as Men In Blue whitewashed the Kangaroos.

Under the leadership of skipper MS Dhoni coupled by Virat Kohli's batting exploits and some impressive some performances, Men In Blue cleared their intentions ahead of World T20 2016.

In the months to come, Team India only consolidated their domination in the T20 format.

Dhoni and Company lifted the Asia Cup (held for the first time in T20 format) in Bangladesh and thus proved themselves as top contenders for the World T20 trophy.

In the World T20, India played like title favourites but missed the final after going down fighting to West Indies in the thrilling semi-final of sixth edition of the tournament.

West Indies may have lifted the T20 title but it was India's run machine Virat Kohli who was flavour of the season. Kohli was adjudged Man of the Tournament for his sensational batting performances.

Later, a new look Indian team-led by Captain Cool MS Dhoni toured Zimbabwe and won the ODI and T20I series. Here, Team India got another star in KL Rahul.

After an impressive Zimbabwe tour, it was Virat Kohli's turn to lead the Indian Test team on the tour of Caribbean islands and kick-off the long Test season.

Kohli, who looked in the form of a lifetime during IPL 2016, accumulated runs in the Test format and went on slamming three Test triples by the end of 2016.

He might have failed to bag any ICC award for the incredible 2016 - which undoubtedly belonged to this mordern day genius - but he, clearly, was on record breaking spree.

Kohli - the phenomena - dominated the game like no one with his consistent breathtaking performances across all formats.

Along with Kohli 2016 witnessed another genius from India in Ravichandran Ashwin.

Like Kohli, Ashwin is going to remember the year 2016. If Kohli dominated the world cricket with his batting exploits, Ashwin, the number 1 bowler in Test cricket, did the same with his bowling.

Here are India's top 10 cricketers of the year:

1. Virat Kohli

He might have failed to bag any ICC award for the incredible 2016 - which undoubtedly belonged to this modern day genius - but was on record breaking spree.

Kohli, the phenomena, dominated the game like no one with his back to back breathtaking performances across all formats.

Kohli accumulated 1,215 runs in the 12 Tests and went on slamming three triple centuries (4 centuries) by the end of 2016. His Test average is a whopping 75.93 in 2016.

With 739 runs, Kohli averages whopping 92.37 in 10 ODIs played in 2016. The Delhi dasher smashed 4 ODI tons.

Of 15 T20I games Kohli scored 641 runs, with 90* being highest. He averages 106.83 in the shortest format of the game and still remains a force to reckon with.

2. R Ashwin

72 wickets in 12 Tests are more than enough to prove how lethal this 30-year-old off-spinner was this year. Some even called Ashwin the Don Bradman in bowling and stats support Ashwin for that.

Ashwin deserved to win the ICC Cricketer and Test Cricketer of the Year 2016 awards for his all-round performances against West Indies, New Zealand and England.

The Tamil Nadu spinner was not only unplayable with ball but was effective with the bat too. Ashwin is only the fifth player in history of Test cricket to grab over 25 wickets and score over 300 runs in a series, during five-Test rubber against England.

He has already won 7 man of the series awards in just 44 Tests. Only 6 players have won more such awards than him. Considering his form and penchant for wickets, there is a possibility that he'll top this table at the end of his career.

In 17 T20I matches he played in 2016, Ashwin grabbed 23 wickets.

3. KL Rahul

The young Karnataka batsman has emerged as a future star for India. Playing under Virat Kohli in Indian Premier League did wonders to the 24-year-old opening batsman, who just like Kohli can play dominate any side in all three formats of cricket.

On India's tour of Zimbabwe, Rahul became the first Indian cricketer to slam a century on his ODI debut. He has amassed 196 runs in 3 ODIs so far (all played this year) and remained unbeaten on all three occasions.

The right-handed batsman also became only the third Indian batsman to have slammed a ton in a T20I game. Rahul did that in USA against West Indies which was only his fourth T20I match. He has scored 179 runs from 5 T20I games.

But, it is his knack to play big knocks in Tests and ability to convert 50s into hundreds that has made him India's first choice opener.

The second half of his calendar year 2016 was marred by injuries but the youngster had made it count on the occasions he has been given.

He has hit two Test centuries, though less from his standards, in 7 Tests but scored 539 runs in 2016.

His highest individual Test score 199 came against England at Chennai Test. But the youngster averaged 59.88 in the outgoing year. 

4. Ravindra Jadeja

The left-arm spinner from Saurashtra has been in a perfect deputy to R Ashwin and has been another match winner for the side, specially in Tests.

His performance against England at Chennai helped the hosts clinch series 4-0 and end the 2016 campaign with a win.

Jadeja's contribution from bat has also been vital for the side, and his presence along side Ashwin in the lower oder has given depth to India's batting order.

Of 9 Tests he played in 2016 Jadeja has grabbed 43 wickets. In the 17 T20I games he played, the southpaw grabbed 17 wickets.

As far as his batting his concerned, he's only behind Ashwin in the all-rounders' ranking table. Credit for this goes to his batting exploits. Of 9 Tests he batted in 14 innings and scored 375 runs, 90 being his highest.

5. Cheteshwar Pujara

There was a tremendous amount pressure upon this middle-order batsman before the start of the long Test season.

Despite making his debut in 2010, the Rajkot batsman has been struggling to consolidate his position into the Test squad.

He had a forgettable tour of Caribbean as the 28-year-old failed to make it big and was eventually dropped out of the side.

But, Pujara came back strongly in the home series against New Zealand and England. He scored 3 Test centuries (101*, 124 and 119) and 4 fifties during Test series against NZ and England.

Pujara, thus, accumulated 836 runs in 11 Tests and averaged 55.73. His partnerships with Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli in home Tests helped India seal series against England and New Zealand.

 

6. Karun Nair

The 25-year-old Karnataka batsman became only the second Indian batsman in India's Test history to score a triple hundred. He played a mammoth 303-run-knock against England at Chennai in the 5th and final Test. 

In the third and final session of 4th day's play of the 5th Test at Chennai, Karun brought up a historic triple hundred to join Virender Sehwag, who had done it twice with scores of 309 and 319.

In doing so, he became highest individual score by an Indian at number 5 or lower, beating the previous best of 224 by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Karun became only the 3rd batsman in Test history to convert maiden ton into triple. West Indies' Garry Sobers (365 not out Vs Pakistan in Kingston, 1958) and Bob Simpson (311 Vs England in Old Trafford, 1964) of Australia were the others.

7. Jasprit Bumrah

He (right) has also been India's find in the year 2016 and cemented his position as a strike bowler for the side in limited overs ever since he made his ODI debut in January.

The 23-year-old's ability to bowl yorkers at will has already brought him laurels in a short span of time.

In 8 ODI games Bumrah has bowled at an economy of 3.63 and grabbed 17 wickets. But his performance in the T20Is has made him an indispensable asset.

The Gujarat pacer has claimed 28 wickets in 21 games and his bowling skills has made him a lethal death-over bowler.

8. Ajinkya Rahane

2016 has been decent year for this right-handed batsman from Mumbai. Having emerged as second most bankable Test batsman in the team after Virat Kohli, Rahane averaged 54.41 in 2016 with the bat.

Rahane scored 653 runs in 10 Tests and struck two brilliant centuries (108* and 188) and two half centuries. The right-hander was in great form against West Indies and New Zealand but his bat was mostly silent against England.

One of the prime reasons for 2016 being an average year for Rahane was due to his 'not so good' performance in the limited overs. He scored 284 runs in 9 ODIs and just 102 in 7 T20I games.

9. Rohit Sharma

He has been India's most lethal weapons in limited overs' format and he proved it from the very beginning of the year 2016. With his innings of 171* against Australia during 1st ODI at Perth, Rohit went on hitting another 124 in the second ODI at Brisbane. He failed to hit his third century of the series after he fell short of just 1 run.

Rohit made 564 runs in 10 ODIs played in 2016 and averaged 62.66.

The Mumbai-lad was slightly unlucky in the Tests format though. He found his touch with consecutive 82 and 51* run innings against New Zealand in second and third Test but injury in the ODI series kept him away from England series.

The right hander's performance in T20Is was equally good. In 18 games Rohit accumulated 497 runs, with 83 being his highest.

10. MS Dhoni

2016 was mixed bag for the Indian skipper as his individual performances may not be doing justice with his stature and charisma, but his achievements weren't bad in 2016.

After losing the ODI series, Men In Blue won T20 series against Australia, Sri Lanka and lifted the Asia Cup 2016 trophy. Dhoni-led Indian side reached in the semi-finals of World T20 2016. India were outclassed by West Indies in the semis but Dhoni-led side wasn't criticised.

India later won ODI and T20I series in Zimbabwe and defeated New Zealand in the ODI series.

Out of 13 ODI games Dhoni scored 278 runs while in 21 T20Is he scored 238 runs.

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