Today, the perception of the Indian Cricket Team bears a stark contrast to the impression one made of the team composed of gentle, even shy ’90s cricketers. You just don’t take India lightly anymore. Not a chance. It’s harakiri in cricketing parlance. You have to play to your full might when tackling a side that boasts of one champion cricketer after another. Even the mere harmless task of scrolling past the names of those who feature in its playing eleven could be likened to an exercise similar to counting the bullets fired to the head or to rupture the mortal body. There’s Rahul up top. Next to him, Rohit. Post that, Virat Kohli. After that, Shreyas Iyer. Want more? Jadeja, Kuldeep, Ishant, Shami, Umesh. It’s a tall order that excites just as much as it trickles a concern in the mind of the opponent.
And in 2019, India played as if every turf was its own, and as if it hadn’t heard of being second-best, as if that were a flawed, unreal, ‘stranger-to-mankind’ idea. It won’t be incorrect to suggest that through Team India’s peaks, world cricket tasted some very exquisite triumphs. There were several best moments for Indian Cricket in 2019.
But which were among the very best moments of Indian Cricket in 2019?
India Reaching The World Cup Semis
One of the best moments of Indian Cricket in 2019 came in the form of its fantastic World Cup feats. Although a major heartbreak was reached in the form of the defeat to New Zealand, perhaps an event that according to some was very surprising. But it wasn’t to be experienced until the semi-final stage.
Prior to that, India had sabotaged and attacked every single team it met in Cricket’s grandest stage, barring England.
Playing like true kings of the limited-overs arena, there was a sense of intent and passion to everything that India did, whether it was the famous 180-run stand against Bangladesh conjured by the openers Rohit-Rahul, the phenomenal form the “Hitman” essayed with the bat, the aggressive captaincy of Virat Kohli, or the incredible World Cup hat-trick claimed by Shami.
Kuldeep Yadav Hat-Trick Vs West Indies
A clever, foxy and unmistakably thinking cricketer, Kuldeep may go for some runs on occasions, but he bowls with his mind always planning to plot the downfall of the batsmen.
This year, the left-arm spinner did just that although with double the bite and effectiveness as he collected 32 of his 99 ODI wickets, bowling 208 overs, from which he gathered the best-bowling performance of 4 for 39, registering an economy of just above 5.
But implicit in the clever left-arm wrist spinner’s success was the famous hat-trick he took against the Windies at Vizag’s Second ODI.
First taking the key wicket of Shai Hope, later removing the former ODI captain Jason Holder, and then, Alzarri Joseph, Kuldeep, in the process his hat-trick also completed a rarity; that of being the first Indian bowler in the history of 50-over cricket to take more than 1 hat-trick.
But the nack of taking hat-tricks, if it must be put that way, didn’t just rest with the spinner’s big moment. Back in the summers, in the Caribbean, Jasprit Bumrah- among the most unplayable fast bowlers out today- stunned the West Indies in taking a Test hat-trick at the Sabina Park in Jamaica.
He removed the well-set Bravo, then Brooks, and finally, Roston Chase. That both Indians took their hat-tricks in different forms of the game but against the same side made the efforts among the best moments of Indian Cricket in 2019.
Shami’s Incredible White-Ball Form
At 29, Mohammad Shami is at the peak of his form and fitness. A consistent, compact fast-bowler who trumps at the back of a rhythmic run-up, Shami can bowl consistently up into the mid and late 140s: a boon for any Test or ODI captain.
And this year, where Shami, who collected 42 of his 136 ODI wickets at an economy of a little above 5 proved just that.
Not only did Shami dominate in India but he was up to the business in India’s overseas assignments as well.
He was the team’s go-to bowler in the mother of all sporting battles in England and Wales and his aggressive, hoppy run-up fired some bullets into the batsmen’s comfort zones that were so impossible to dodge.
In enjoying his best-ever ODI year in terms of wickets and consistency, Shamis feat contributed big to one of the best moments of Indian Cricket in 2019.
India’s Domination In Its First-Ever Pink Ball Test
2019 will always be remembered for several reasons, but one among them should be a special, ‘first’ that the team experienced: playing its first-ever Pink-ball Test match under the flash of floodlights.
It only makes sense that a venue for a game as grand as Cricket should be grander. Therefore, Eden Gardens’ mesmerizing very “Colosseum-like” feel offered the perfect backdrop to India’s special and remarkable Pink-Ball debut, an occasion where Kohli’s army proved untouchable from Bangladesh’s point of view.
In brushing aside the hapless visitors, India also managed to make its Pink-ball Test debut also its shortest in terms of the duration of the contest.
In front of an absolute fast-bowling showdown, led by Ishant and Umesh, only for Kohli to top it up by striking the team’s first-ever Pink ball hundred, there was nothing that Bangladesh could do to usurp its hosts.
And in the end, as India thumped Bangladesh, and in the process recorded their seventh consecutive victory at home, the fast bowlers stormed to everyone’s attention: Ishant and Umesh jointly picking 17 of Bangladesh’s 20 wickets. The emphatic win made for one of the best moments of Indian Cricket in 2019.
The “Hitman” Obliterates Opponents In 2019
Only a few batsmen stand true to the cricketing adage: “when he hits it, it stays hit!”
When Rohit Sharma comes out to bat, it seems, the ball is only a part of the spectators assembled in the ground, for it stays rarely inside the boundary limits, as it sails over the ropes.
Yet, here is someone whose batting resembles an elegant art, something that most can try but only a few can succeed mastering. And Rohit Sharma batted with a murderous intent for that’s how it seemed to most bowlers.
He struck 7 ODI hundreds this year, 5 of them in Cricket’s grandest fests: the ICC 50-over World Cup. He terrorized and hounded the Australians, the English, the Bangladeshis, the Pakistanis, and even the Proteas.
What’s more? He wasn’t just good in limited-overs cricket. The change of a format merely meant Rohit switching the jersey colors, going white from blue. The blunt blade stayed that way.
He welcomed the South Africans with 529 runs in a 3-match Test series wherein India whitewashed Faf’s team. Rohit alone struck 3 hundreds in contributing to a landslide moment in Indian cricket, resuscitating his own career in the process.
What was most beautiful for India was that while the Hitman was firing bullets into the bowlers’ state of confidence, there was another crafty batsman coming into his own at the other end: Mayank Agarwal (872 Test runs, 9 innings, 3 hundreds, 3 fifties).
Rohit finished the year with 1490 ODI runs, the most only after Virat Kohli.
India’s Excellent Test Form
One of the best moments of Indian Cricket in 2019 was realized through the team’s dismissive and red hot Test form. The team just didn’t lose a single Test match this year. You read that right!
India, in winning 7 of their 8 Tests proved that the Kohli brigade wasn’t only powerful in the shorter formats of the game but also at its very best in Cricket’s classic or as some put it ‘truest’ form: Tests.
That only 1 Test that India featured in from its kitty of 8 ended in a draw also went a long way in explaining the team’s consistency throughout the year. India won against whomsoever and where it played. We went to West Indies in August-September and returned back without a single loss.
We whitewashed South Africa, in India, as the likes of Rohit and Mayank arose to the top thanks to the hammerings of their bat. Next up was helpless Bangladesh’s turn. The narrative was common, just that the actors changed on the stage.