In the world of sports, great teams who had an extended spell of dominance have had one thing in common. The name of the game is winning consistently and Team India did every bit of that all through 2017.
The Indian cricket team had a stellar run all through the 2017 season by dominating their oppositions in all formats and reaching the very pinnacle of the ICC team rankings in both Tests and ODIs.
India built an impregnable fortress on home soil winning six consecutive bilateral Test series and extended their winning run in ODIs to eight successive series win. The Indians also made it to the finals of the Champions Trophy only losing out to arch-rivals Pakistan in the finals.
India thereby had one of their best ever cricket seasons remaining unbeatable on home soil all through the year. The change of guard at the very top from MS Dhoni to Virat Kohli augered well for Indian cricket and the Blue Brigade went from strength to strength carving out impressive victories on home soil.
So let us see as to why did the Indian team attain such lofty heights all through the 2017 season.
Stable Opening pair
Both in Tests and ODIs, the Indian had a settled opening combination which gave them the opening salvo to build on a strong platform. While Murali Vijay and KL Rahul did a pretty decent job opening the innings in Test cricket, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan established themselves as a formidable ODI pair.
Shikhar Dhawan's good run with the bat in ODIs continued in 2017 as the southpaw racked up an impressive 960 runs in ODIs. Meanwhile,
Rohit Sharma established himself as one of India's finest openers. Sharma had a brilliant run in ODIs amassing 1293 runs. The 'Hitman' also notched up his second double ton in ODIs. Sharma was equally impressive in T20s scoring a blistering ton.
Compact Middle Order
Cheteshwar Pujara became the rock of the Indian middle order by churning out consistent performances with the willow. Pujara played the sheet anchor's role to perfection and kept turning good performances with the willow. Pujara was the second highest run scorer in with 1140 runs.
The Indian skipper Virat Kohli led the batting efforts from the front with superlative consistency. Kohli seems to be enjoying his batting while donning the captain's hat. Kohli ended up as the leading run scorer of the season with a staggering 1460 run tally.
The most notable feature of his batting was converting his hundreds into double tons. Kohli continued to excel in ODIs and T20 being the architect of many a wins for India, especially while chasing.
Meanwhile, the likes of Lokesh Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey all impressed with the willow giving the side a lot of depth in the batting.
Hardik Pandya has been a welcome change for Indian cricket which has always struggled for an allrounder since the great Kapil Dev. Pandya has impressed one and all with his destructive hitting down the order and handy seam bowling which compliments the pace attack. Add to that his supreme fitness which makes him a superb fielder.
Kedhar Jadhav was the surprise package this season with his aggressive batting and handy off-spin. Meanwhile, Axar Patel continued to be a valuable cricketer in the limited overs format.
India's bowling attack in Tests was once again spearheaded by the spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. While Ashwin continued to pick up a bagful of wickets all season, becoming the fastest to 300 Test wickets, Jadeja gave him the ideal support accounting for 50 dismissals in the season.
Apart from Ashwin and Jadeja, the spin attack was bolstered by the emergence of two quality leg spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav both of whom formed a potent spin duo in limited overs cricket and T20 format.
Chahal and Yadav cast a web around most oppositions, ripping through the batting orders of most of the touring sides which played on the Indian subcontinent.
India's biggest plus this year has been the emergence of a pace battery. After a long time, India had the luxury of a plethora of quality seamers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah.
While Bhuvi and Bumrah mastered the art of moving the ball and bowling those toe-crushing yorkers, Yadav and Shami bamboozled the best with their pace and seam movement. They also have Ishant Sharma in the ranks who is handy on bouncy wickets overseas.
Improved Fielding Unit
India, as fielding unit has improved leaps and bounds and the Yo-Yo fitness Test, has certainly made the playing eleven look a much leaner and fitter unit. India is perhaps one of the best fielding sides in the world and their captain Virat leads from the front with his superlative fitness regime.
So in a nutshell, Indian cricket had an impeccable run all through 2017 at home and they would hope to replicate the same form when they take on a potent South African soil in their backyard in a three Tests and six ODI series.