India's formidable five ODI stars
Both the Indian men’s and women’s cricket teams had some individuals who left an indelible impression and led their team to memorable wins. Sridhar Venkatesh takes a look at these five exceptional cricketers
2017 was had been an eventful year for India in One Day International cricket, with both the men's and women's cricket teams achieving great heights. For the women's team, the runner-up finish at the eleventh edition of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup was a historic moment, which saw a team of underdogs reach the final, defying all expectations. The men's team, meanwhile, finished the year second only to the mighty South Africans in the ODI team rankings for ODIs, winning 21 of their 29 ODI games this year. Both teams had some individuals who left an indelible impression on the game and led their team to memorable wins. Here are the top five Indian cricketers who made a mark in ODIs in 2017:
5. Ekta Bisht: The 31-year-old left arm spinner became the first Indian woman cricketer this year to enter the ICC Women's ODI as well as T20 International teams of the year, thanks to her 34 scalps in 19 ODIs and 11 wickets in seven T20Is. Her standout moment came against Pakistan in February, when the Uttarakhand-born spinner took five wickets for just eight runs. Pakistan was at the receiving end yet again, when Bisht took five for just 18 runs in her 10 overs in a league game in the Women's World Cup.
4. Kuldeep Yadav: Another left-arm spinner, young Kuldeep Yadav came to the men's team on the back of impressive performances for the Uttar Pradesh Ranji team, as well as the India A side. A left-arm wrist spinner – a rare commodity to find in India's – vast cricketing mines, Yadav scalped an impressive 22 wickets from his 14 ODI games, his entire career so far in limited overs cricket. The highlight of the 23-year-old's year was his hat-trick at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, against Australia in the second ODI of the five-match series, which the hosts comfortable won 4-1.
3. Rohit Sharma: Questions have time and again been raised on the fitness and form of the Indian vice-captain, who has been criticised – many a time unfairly – for not playing up to his immense potential. But 2017 has been more than a memorable year for the 'Hitman'. Making his comeback after a nursing a hamstring injury for over six months, the 30-year-old scored an impressive 1293 runs in 21 games this year, finishing as the second-highest run-getter for the national side. His unbeaten 208 against Sri Lanka at Mohali – his third double ton in ODIs – was proof enough that the Mumbaikar is hungry for more, as always.
2. Mithali Raj: Not many would disagree that the Indian women's team captain became the apple of the eye for almost a billion Indians, thanks to her exemplary captaincy during the Women's World Cup in England this year, where they put up a spirited show against eventual winners England. 35-year-old Mithali Raj cemented her name in the pantheon of women's cricket in July when she overtook Englishwoman Charlotte Edwards to become the highest run-getter in Women's ODIs. With an average of 71.18 in only 15 innings and 783 runs, Raj was India's second highest run-getter in Women's ODIs this year, bettered only by Deepti Sharma. The stylish batswoman has tumbled record after record since her debut and she has shown no signs of stopping.
1. Virat Kohli: For both personal and professional reasons, 2017 has been a year to remember for Indian skipper Virat Kohli. Perhaps the loss against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy would remain bitter in the back of his tongue for some time. However, that one blip aside, the Delhi batsman has dominated this year in One Day International cricket. With 1460 runs in just 26 innings, the 29-year-old finished the year as the highest run-getter in the shorter format of the game. The beginning of 2018 will see a hungrier, stronger Virat Kohli for sure. And looking at the pace with which he breaks records one after the other, he is bound to overtake his idol and former teammate Sachin Tendulkar.