The year 2015 was a very good year for the young Indian team. The team just played 9 tests last year and managed to win 5 of them and just lost 1 test. Even though the record for the year doesn’t look bad the test team is not without its issues. The batting has been highly inconsistent there has been lots of chopping and changing in the X1. Virat Kohli’s aggressive captaincy though has been the talking point of the year and the hopes of India turning their fortunes around overseas are high in the coming years.
Let’s look at top 5 performers for India in tests in both batting and bowling.
Top 5 batsmen 2015 (Table 1):
India had a highly inconsistent year with the bat in tests. The batting against spin especially has come in for lots of criticism. The low point of the Indian batting was their capitulation against the left-arm spin of Herath chasing a modest 4th innings total. The table 1 shows the top 5 run getters for India in tests for the year 2015.
Even though Virat Kohli scored the most runs in 2015 the star performer for India was Ajinkya Rahane. Ajinkya was brilliant with the bat again in 2015 and was one of the lynchpins of Indian middle order along with Virat Kohli. Murali Vijay once again had a great year with the bat. He missed the entire SL tour due to injury but did well for India at the top of the order. Shikar Dhawan though ending up as one of the top run getters for India at the top has been highly inconsistent. His struggles against the South African pace bowlers begs the question if he is indeed our long term opening prospect. He did make couple of significant contributions against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The other bright spot for Indian batting this year was the return of Pujara at number 3. He scored a brilliant hundred on his return to the team in the 3rd test against Sri Lanka and also made some useful contributions against South Africa.
Virat Kohli would assume that Rahane, Vijay, Pujara and himself will form the core of the Indian batting line up in tests for the next few years. India still is looking for a reliable number 6. Rohit Sharma has been employed in that position without much success over the last couple of years. India will do well to try out few young players at that position. The other spot in question is of Shikhar Dhawan. Dhawan is a good bet on flat wickets at the top but his weakness against quality fast bowling was once again shown in the test series against South Africa. With KL Rahul waiting in the wings, it will just be matter of time before he is replaced at the top of the order in tests.
Now let’s move on to the bowlers.
Top 5 bowlers 2015 (Table 2):
As you can see in the table above, Ashwin had a phenomenal 2015 with the ball. With India playing most of their tests in sub-continent it is expected that the spinners will be among the top wicket takers for the year. Ashwin is not only India’s best bowler; he also topped the wicket takers chart for the year 2015. Ravindra Jadeja made an excellent comeback into the Indian team for the series against South Africa. Even though the pitches were conducive to his style of bowling he did bowl with amazing accuracy and control. He also made some vital contributions with the bat lower down along with the wickets he took. The third spot goes to Amit Mishra who also had a wonderful year with the ball. Mishra though was unlucky as he did not get to play all 4 tests against South Africa. He probably bowled the least amount of overs among the three spinners but ended up getting a decent haul of wickets with excellent average and SR.
The pacers hardly had anything to do in 2015. Since most of the tests were played in the subcontinent the Indian pacers hardly had any chance to make an impact. In spite of that Ishant Sharma returned with decent figures for the year. His 14 wickets at 31 cannot be underestimated considering the wickets he bowled on. His performance in Sri Lanka was brilliant and he was regularly able to exert pressure from one end and was also able to price out some crucial wickets. It augurs well for India that Ishant is finally the leader of the pace attack which India want him to be. Umesh Yadav like Ishant did not have much to do this year with the ball but in the limited chances he got he was highly inconsistent. He did have some excellent spells with the ball but in between all that he did leak a lot of runs. His reverse swinging spell against South Africa in the final test was brilliant but such spells were few and far between and he released the pressure built by other bowlers regularly.
It was a decent year for the Indian test team in 2015. They had a young leader and a young team and they have done a reasonable job in their first year. They will have tougher assignments in the coming years but 2015 has been a good stepping stone.