Rohit Sharma [ M: 19 | R: 1030 runs | A: 73.57 | S/R: 100.09 ]
While Rohit’s Test career may not have taken off just yet, he continues to sparkle in the white ball formats. Even though the opener didn't look at ease at times against seaming deliveries in South Africa, he managed to score 115 at Port Elizabeth, to end the six-match series with 170 runs at an average of 28.33. He smashed an unbeaten 137 in England in India’s next ODI series and then led India to the Asia Cup triumph in UAE, pitching in with a splendid display with the bat - scoring 317 runs with a high score of 111 in five games. He wrapped up the year with two centuries against the West Indies and his rising prowess in the format is a major reason why India has been able to attain such heights in ODIs.
Shikhar Dhawan [ M:19 | R: 897 runs | A: 49.38 | S/R: 102.28 ]
Dhawan had yet another phenomenal year in the format, and his consistent performances against quality bowlers ensures that he pips fellow left-hander Tamim Iqbal for a place in the team. Dhawan started the year with vengeance, scoring two fifties and a hundred in South Africa against a bowling attack that comprised Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada. He was unable to raise his bat in England, but in all three innings, he looked assured and got starts, and eventually ended the series with 120 runs, which were scored at a strike-rate of 113.20. Two hundreds in the Asia Cup along with two more 40s ended what was once again a fabulous year for him. Though he failed to get going against the West Indies, Dhawan’s consistency and his aggression at the top, coupled with Rohit’s brilliance, makes it one of the most dangerous pairs in world cricket.
Virat Kohli (c) [ M: 14 | R: 1202 | A: 133.55 | S/R: 102.55 ]
Virat Kohli (Image/Twitter)
India’s top three has been on a rampage in the last few years, and 2018 was no different. The skipper started off on a high, smashing three hundreds in South Africa to go with an unbeaten 46 and 75 in the six-match series. He looked at ease in England as well, with two scores in the 70s along with 45. Kohli missed the Asia Cup as he was rested after a long tour to the United Kingdom, but returned with a bang, becoming the first Indian skipper to score three consecutive hundreds - a feat he achieved against the Windies. What stood out for Kohli this year was his incredible conversion rate - three fifties as against six hundreds. He is also the natural choice to lead the ODI XI.
Ross Taylor [ M: 11 | R: 639 | A: 91.28 | S/R: 88.87 ]
Taylor’s feats have gone almost unnoticed this year. The former Kiwi skipper played just 11 games but managed to maintain his consistency even when New Zealand did not play any international cricket in over eight months. Taylor amassed two centuries and two fifties at home, against England and Pakistan respectively, and showed his skills with two scores in the 80s when New Zealand toured UAE for a series against Pakistan last month. At Abu Dhabi in the first game, Taylor compiled a fluent 80 after his team had been reduced to 78 for 3. In the second ODI, Taylor held one end up even as his teammates found runs hard to come by.
Sikandar Raza [ M: 18 | R: 633 | A: 39.56 | S/R: 82.31| W: 22 wickets | E/R: 4.77 ]
Raza’s inclusion might come as a surprise, but considering that he played most matches against stronger teams, his achievements are impressive. With the bat, he started off the year scoring consecutive fifties against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Dhaka and managed to make 92 in Sharjah against Afghanistan, who were fielding players of the calibre of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Two scores in the 60s in the World Cup Qualifiers - against Afghanistan and Ireland - along with consecutive 40s versus Bangladesh at Chittagong is no mean feat for a batsman from a side that is struggling in the sport recently. Raza can chip in with the ball too, which allows him to pip Mushfiqur Rahim for a spot in the ODI XI.
Jos Buttler (wk) [ M: 23 | R: 671 | A: 51.61 | S/R: 113.53 ]
Considering how strong the English top-order is in ODIs, Buttler often has the tough task of smashing runs with just a few overs to spare in an innings - something that he has done effortlessly this year. Almost all his knocks have come at better than run-a-ball, and his quick cameos help the side pile on some crucial runs at the end. The keeper also showed off his ability to anchor a run-chase in the 5th ODI against Australia at Manchester, when England, chasing 206, had collapsed to 50 for 5. His 110 runs off 122 balls was a clear sign of how Buttler has evolved into one of the most dangerous players on the planet.
Thisara Perera [ M: 17 | R: 415 runs | A: 34.58 | S/R: 115.59 | W: 25 | E/R: 5.78]
One of the most underrated performers this year, Perera was the most consistent cog in an otherwise inconsistent Sri Lankan unit. Like Buttler, he too came down the order and scored some quickfire runs for his team - the most notable ones being his 30-ball 49 and 45-ball 51* against South Africa at Dambulla and Pallekele, respectively. However, it is his bowling that warrants a spot for Perera in the ODI XI of 2018. He was constantly among the wickets this year, often rising to the occasion when the new-ball bowlers failed to create in-roads.
Rashid Khan [ M: 20 | W: 48 | A: 14.45 | E/R: 3.89 ]
It was believed that Rashid Khan will lose his wicket-taking abilities as he played more ODIs, but 2018 proved just otherwise. Though it can be argued that Rashid did not play against quality opposition for the most parts of the year, his performances in various T20 leagues across the globe reflect that he can be equally dangerous against the best of players. Rashid had picked up 15 wickets in the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers early on in the year, which paved the way for his team’s triumph at the event.
Kuldeep Yadav [ M: 19 ODIs | W: 45 wickets | A: 17.77 average | E/R: 4.64 ]
India’s progress in ODIs can be attributed largely to the way their bowlers have fared over the last few seasons. Kuldeep had a pivotal role to play in India’s triumph in South Africa earlier this year, as he romped away to 17 wickets in six games. Nine wickets in England, including a six-wicket haul in Nottingham, reinforced his importance in the side. The fact that he does not rely on conditions for his success makes him a dangerous prospect going ahead. Kuldeep continued his fine form in the subcontinent as well, picking up 10 wickets in the Asia Cup and nine in the subsequent series against West Indies. The left-armer has gone wicketless in only two games he played this year.
Lungi Ngidi [ M: 13 ODIs | W: 26 wickets | A: 23.03 average | E/R: 5.56 ]
Aside from Ngidi’s tearaway pace, what sets him apart is his knack of stalling the run-flow in both the Powerplay and the death overs, when batsmen are looking to attack. The South Africa went wicketless in his debut game against India at Cape Town but has been among the wickets in every match thereon. He beats Mustafizur for a spot in the team, as he has played against higher-ranked oppositions this year, like India and Australia, and has managed to do well across all conditions. On drier tracks in Sri Lanka, Ngidi was his side’s standout bowler, picking up 10 wickets in four games.
Jasprit Bumrah [ M: 13 | W: 22 | A: 16.63 average | E/R: 3.62 economy rate ]
Though the speedster picked up four or more wickets only once this year (against West Indies at Pune), he constantly troubled the batsmen and his impressive economy-rate is testimony of that. In seven games that Bumrah played this year, he conceded runs at an economy of 3.50 or less seven times, with the highlight being his economy of 1.83 against West Indies in Thiruvananthapuram last month.
First Published: December 31, 2018, 8:44 AM IST