Ten best performances in 2008
Joined: 21 July 2007
Posted: 04 January 2009 at 4:16am
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Tendulkar crossing Lara and getting to 12,000: It was another special year for Sachin Tendulkar. Crossing some notable landmarks made it a significant period for him even as he entered his 20th year in international cricket. He is still hungry for success, still retains his boyish enthusiasm for the game as symbolized by a joyous leap in the air as he completed his hundred and was there at the finish when India chased an unlikely target of 387 to beat England at Chennai. That hundred was among four that he hit most by an Indian - as he crossed the 1000-run mark in a calendar year for the fifth time. (Getty Images)
The other three hundreds were all against Australia. Statistically though his biggest achievement was passing Brian Lara as the highest run-getter in Tests and then becoming the first to cross the 12,000-run mark. He stretched his record number of centuries to 41, his career average hovered around the 55 mark and he became the second most capped player (along with Allan Border) with 156 Tests. 2009 should see him overhaul Steve Waugh's record of 168 Tests just another feather in Tendulkar's much decorated cap. (Getty Images)
Virender Sehwag, 319 India vs South Africa, Chennai: A feat that put Virender Sehwag alongside Don Bradman and Brian Lara has to be the batting performance of the year. A triple century in a Test is an outstanding feat underlined by the fact that it has been done only 22 times in 1900 matches spread over 131 years. Going into the Chennai Test against South Africa in March Sehwag was India's only triple centurion. Now against all expectations the Nawab of Najafgarh not only got a second 300-plus score but bettered his old mark of 309 by hammering 319 off just 304 balls with 42 fours and five sixes. He dominated a first wicket partnership of 213 runs with Wasim Jaffer and then put Rahul Dravid in the shade during their second wicket association of 268. (Getty Images)
It mattered least to Sehwag that South Africa had led off with a first innings total of 527. By the time he was second out at 481 he had made sure that this score would be passed with ease. The bowling line-up wasn't a bad one Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis but Sehwag treated all of them with disdain in running up the highest score of the year in his inimitable swashbuckling style. (Getty Images)
Virender Sehwag 201 not out vs Sri Lanka: Anything is possible when Virender Sehwag is around. Even a strike rate of almost 86 during a year when he scored 1462 runs next only to Graeme Smith - at an average of 56 with 22 sixes the most hit by any batsmen during the year. But carrying his bat? Now that was the one feat clearly beyond even Sehwag. His buccaneering batting style meant it was Mission Impossible. It certainly was beyond such pioneers in the swashbuckling approach like Mushtaq Ali and Kris Srikkanth. But Sehwag who has carried the art and science of breezy batting and big hits to a new realm broke new ground against Sri Lanka at Galle. (Getty Images)
Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were associated in an opening partnership of 167 runs only for wickets to fall in a heap. From the uncertainty of 178 for four Sehwag and VVS Laxman took the score to a healthier 278 when the latter fell. Again wickets fell in a heap as Murali and Mendis chipped away at the batting. Nothing however could disturb Sehwag's equanimity or run production. Finally last man Ishant Sharma was out and the innings terminated at 329. But out of that modest total Sehwag had hit 201 and what's more remained unbeaten after having negotiated 231 balls and hitting 22 fours and four sixes. Oh, and by the way India won by 170 runs. (Getty Images)
India successfully chasing 387 vs England at Chennai: The fact that the highest winning total in the fourth innings in India before this was 256 for eight illustrates the greatness of the feat. Few gave India any chance of successfully chasing such an imposing target when they commenced their task after Kevin Pietersen declared on the fourth evening. But Virender Sehwag's buccaneering batting that saw him get 83 off just 68 balls with 11 fours and four sixes was just the tonic the Indians required. Still, to get 256 runs with nine wickets in hand on the last day wasn't going to be an easy task and it was still anybody's match. Dravid's early fall tilted the balance in England's favour but Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman made valuable contributions in partnership with Sachin Tendulkar. The match was evenly poised when Yuvraj Singh joined Tendulkar at 224 for four. (Getty Images)
But the master's calm presence inspired Yuvraj to display his brilliance and ere long India were coasting along towards victory which came without the fall of any more wickets, the two batsmen sharing an unbroken partnership of 163 in 42 overs. Tendulkar capped a memorable finish by hitting the winning boundary which took him to his 41st Test century while Yuvraj remained not out with 85. It was the fourth highest run chase in Test history which was pushed to fifth place a week later by South Africa's memorable 414 for four against Australia at Melbourne. (Getty Images)
Yuvraj Singh's two successive hundreds against England: By the end of the year Yuvraj Singh had at last made sure of his place in the Test side but in ODIs his record as a match winner remained second to none. Symbolizing this was his back-to-back hundreds against England at Rajkot and Indore. Little wonder then that Kevin Pietersen when asked on the eve of the next match as to what he thought would be a safe score for England replied tongue in cheek ''the way Yuvraj is batting, 450!'' The England attack manned by Anderson, Harmison, Flintoff, Broad and Collingwood was by no means ordinary but they were made to look ordinary by Yuvraj's brilliance. (Getty Images)
The left- hander tore into the bowling hitting an unbeaten 138 off just 78 balls with 16 fours and six sixes at Rajkot to help his team reach an unconquerable total of 387 for five. Not unexpectedly India romped to victory by 158 runs. Yuvraj had not finished 'Operation Demolition' yet. At Indore three days later came another master class 118 off 122 balls with 15 fours and two sixes. In a way this was the more valuable knock for while he came in at 153 for two at Rajkot this time the score was 29 for three when he walked in. After a sedate start he did pretty much what he liked with the bowling. This time England went down by 54 runs with Yuvraj the bowler doing most damage with four for 28. (Getty Images)
The graduation of Gautam Gambhir: At the start of the year Gautam Gambhir was not a regular in the Indian ODI side. By the end of the year he had established himself in the team and was no longer the small boy among the big men. From being in and out of the team he was now a permanent fixture as permanent as the superstars. It was the 27-year-old left handed opening batsman who most unexpectedly was the highest run getter in ODIs. His remarkable consistency saw him finish as the year's leading run-getter with 1119 runs at an average of 46.62 from 27 innings at an impressive strike rate of 90.5 with three hundreds and seven half centuries. He may not be a big hitter in the league of Virender Sehwag or Shahid Afridi but as many as 124 fours hit during the year underscored his timing and the ability to find the gaps. (Getty Images)
Gambhir's success story started during the CB series 'Down Under' when he finished as the leading run-getter and with two classy hundreds played a leading role in India's maiden triumph in the competition. Thereafter he was a key player being particularly effective in the Asia Cup and remained a model of consistency against England towards the end of the year. Of course for good measure he made remarkable progress in Tests too. (Getty Images)
Virender Sehwag's amazing strike rate: Virender Sehwag bats the same way be it Tests or ODIs or Twenty20. He enjoys a fearsome reputation in all forms of the game and during the year he enhanced it further as the figures will readily confirm. In 18 ODIs he scored 893 runs at an average approaching 50 with a hundred and eight half centuries. Not unexpectedly he hit 22 sixes (more than anyone else) and 121 fours. But perhaps most astonishingly the runs were hammered at a strike rate of 120 which was the highest among those who scored more than 300 runs. (Getty Images)
Starting off with a modest record in the CB Series 'Down Under' he struck form in the Asia Cup and wound up the year getting four half centuries in five matches against England. His 119 off 95 balls with 12 fours and five sixes against Pakistan in the Asia Cup match at Karachi was one of the most sparkling knocks seen during the year. His pyrotechnics saw India successfully chase a target of 300 with 7.5 overs to spare. (Getty Images)
Dhoni's excellent run with the bat: For Mahendra Singh Dhoni 2008 was another triumphant year as captain, batsmen and wicket keeper. The charismatic cricketer could do no wrong particularly in ODIs where besides leading the Indians to notable triumphs in the CB Series, in Sri Lanka and a sweep against England he also struck good form with the bat. In 26 innings he scored 1097 runs at a highly impressive average of 57.73 and a par strike rate of 82.29 with one hundred and eight half centuries. As many as 74 fours and 14 sixes indicated that he was adept at timing the ball and finding the gaps even as his reputation as a big hitter did not suffer any damage. (Getty Images)
Captaincy was hardly a burden for Dhoni who batted with the same fluency that has been his trademark for some years now. But he was more consistent as the scores indicate as also the fact that he was second to Gautam Gambhir among the run- getters. (Getty Images)
Tendulkar's back to back knocks vs Australia in CB series: Even as Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly followed VVS Laxman out of the one day squad there was considerable speculation whether Sachin Tendulkar deserved a place particularly in the wake of the Twenty20 World Cup triumph having been achieved without the presence of the senior players. The accent as 2008 dawned was on youth but it was difficult to omit Tendulkar on his class, skill, experience and results. The CB Series triumph 'Down Under' was one of the significant achievements of the year and Tendulkar played a notable part in it particularly with his sterling back-to-back knocks in the two finals against Australia. In the first match at Sydney he played the anchor role to perfection as the Indians successfully chased down a target of 240 with six wickets and 4.1 overs to spare. (Getty Images)
Tendulkar was there at the finish unbeaten with 117 in 120 balls with ten hits to the fence. Two days later at Brisbane against tighter bowling Tendulkar again played the anchor role admirably hitting 91 off 121 balls with seven fours before being fourth out at 205 in the 40th over. His knock enabled the Indians to set the Aussies a target of 259. The home side could only get 249 before being all out in the last over. The closeness of the result underscored the importance of Tendulkar's contribution. (Getty Images)
CB Series triumph: In five previous attempts while participating in this prestigious competition the Indians had made an early exit twice and had lost in the final of the triangular tournament three times. Not unexpectedly oft crowned champions Australia were again the favourites and it only remained to be seen which team among India and Sri Lanka would be their opponents in the final. The Indian campaign got off to a rather rocky start with two no results and then three of the next five games being lost. But with Sri Lanka not faring much better India remained in the hunt and clinched a place in the final with a seven-wicket win over the island nation. And in the best of three finals India raised the level of their game to surprise the hosts by six wickets and nine runs to win the trophy for the first time. (Getty Images)
It was a significant triumph made possible by the batting of Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar and the captain MS Dhoni with useful contributions from Rohit Sharma. Gambhir with 440 runs was the top run-getter in the tournament hitting two hundreds while Tendulkar with 399 runs with a century and two half centuries was not far behind. The bowlers, notably the experienced Harbhajan Singh, the fast rising Ishant Sharma and the unheralded Praveen Kumar too performed admirably. (Getty Images)
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Joined: 12 January 2007
Posted: 07 January 2009 at 7:06pm
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its been a fantastic year for indian cricket as they dominated whoever they played for me i think picking dhoni as captain was a master stroke.
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