2016 has been a memorable year for two of India’s top cricketers, Test skipper Virat Kohli and offie Ravichandran Ashwin. Thanks to the duo, India finished the year as the number one Test team. Here’s a look at some of the best performances by Kohli and Ashwin during the course of the year. Kohli finished the year with 1215 runs in 12 Tests at average of 75.93 with four hundreds and two fifties. In ODIs, he smashed 739 runs in 10 matches at an average of 92.37 with three tons and four fifties. Ashwin claimed 72 Test wickets in 12 games at an average of 23.90 with eight five-wicket hauls and three ten-wicket hauls.
The year was special for Kohli the Test batsman since he hit as many as three double hundreds this year. Before this, there were question marks about his ability as he had been constantly getting out after getting past hundred. But, this year has seen a remarkable turnaround. Kohli’s first double came at North Sound against West Indies when he made exactly 200. Kohli bettered it with 211 against New Zealand at Indore. But, the Indian skipper reserved his best for England, as he smashed 235 at Mumbai during the fourth Test of the series.
In the first Test of the same series at Rajkot, Kohli made 40 and 49 not out. The scores do not look too significant, but the fact is that Kohli got the runs when India had their backs to the wall. In the second innings in particular, his unbeaten 49 was important as India were in danger of being bowled out and losing the Test. Kohli registered three ODI tons in the year -- 117 and 106 at Melbourne and Canberra, both unfortunately coming in losing causes. He smashed an unbeaten 154 against New Zealand at Chandigarh as India chased down 286 with ease.
The Indian off-spinner had a brilliant year with both bat and ball. In the Test series in West Indies, he scored two tons to take his tally against West Indies to four hundreds. He made 113 at North Sound and 118 at Gros Islet. Ashwin also claimed seven wickets in the second innings at North Sound to cap a memorable match as India won by an innings. He added a five-for in the first-innings at Jamaica, but could not do enough to lead India to victory.
In the first Test against New Zealand at Kanpur, he claimed 4 for 93 and 6 for 132. With the bat, he chipped in with 40. At Indore, he did even better with 13 scalps – 6 for 81 and 7 for 59 to run through the Kiwis. Ashwin’s great run continued against England. He made 70 and 32 at Rajkot, to go with his three wickets. Ashwin claimed eight wickets at Vizag to go with his 58. At Mohali, he made 72 and picked up four wickets. In the penultimate Test at Mumbai, he claimed six wickets in each innings. In the final Test at Chennai, he managed only one wicket, but hit 67 with the willow.
--By A Cricket Analyst