India, being a power-packed team in world cricket, leaves nothing but high expectations not just for their passionate fans but for everyone around the world. Even if you hate the Indian team, you cannot help but acknowledge some of the players who have been a revelation for the past 5-10 years.
In every department of the game, you will find a cricketer in the men in blues where there’s something to admire and take away. Aside from their World Cup hiccup in the very last match, that is what we have witnessed from India throughout most of 2023.
Performances in the key events
If you had to sum up India’s 2023 performances, then obviously, the World Cup and Asia would come into discussion as India made headlines in both of the tournaments.
India’s Asia Cup Prowess
India knew exactly what they were doing throughout the Asia Cup, and all of their plans worked in accordance. Even the defeat they had against Bangladesh in the second phase was a tactical approach by the captain Rohit Sharma and the staff as players like Virat, Bumrah, Hardik, and a few others were rested. Even the highly anticipated India vs Pakistan matches were a non-contesting affair for the men in blues.
And, in the finals, clearly, it was the sheer quality of the dominant bowling attack as Mohammad Siraj completely ripped through the Sri Lankans with his 6 for 21 runs, bowling the Sri Lankans out for just an absurd 51 runs.
The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023
It was as if everyone, even the rivals deep down, knew that India would emerge victorious, but their dreams and aspirations were completely shattered by Pat Cummins and Co. If you had followed the World Cup, then you know for sure that this was the most dominant team display ever in a tournament with every unit in the team performing with the return of Virat Kohli’s form and the rise of young stars at crucial stages along with the spin duo’s magic complemented my Shami’s one-sided bowling prowess.
Each and every match was won by comfortable margins, like the match against Sri Lanka, where they got bowled again under 60 runs, or the match against the Netherlands, where they won by 160 runs. The World Cup was completely owned by India.
But it was probably the expectations and the pressure that had killed them in the finals as they got outdone by a calm and collected Australia who knew how to win the World Cup. Virat’s unbelievable run at the tournament as the highest run scorer with 765 runs, Rohit’s tactical mind showed through captiancy, and Shami’s leading wicket-taking run of 23 wickets all seemed non-sensical at the end as Pat Cummins kept his promise by silencing the entire Narendra Modi Stadium of 90,000 people.
Performances in Test cricket
The Men in Blue has had an almost impeccable run in their test cricket performances, with 3 test series victories out of the four and one draw, which was at the very end.
But, the losses in those test series have cost them a few slips up in the World Test Championship ranking as they are currently at number 5 below Bangladesh. From the beginning of 2023, if you look at the series against Bangladesh, it was utter domination, with the likes of Kuldeep, Ashwin, and Pujara all firing.
Then came the more challenging series, as the men in blue faced Australia, the West Indies, and South Africa. In the South Africa series, the first match led to an all-out domination by South Africa, where they bowled out India in just 131 runs, all thanks to the individual excellence of the likes of Dean Elgar. But then India made a solid comeback, which was actually the shortest test match ever in history, bowling just 107 overs.
India had a clean sweep at the inexperienced West Indies in their away series, and in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, it seemed like a one-sided affair after watching the first 2 test matches, but then Australia made a quick comeback in the third test. Still, the series was for India as they drew the final game, scoring 571 runs on the last day. The series was a treat to watch as the likes of Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, and Ashwin all performed at their level. The player of the series was awarded to Ravi Chandran Ashwin for his 25 wickets.
India has yet to have a series of losses since the end of 2022, and they aspire to continue to have this form and get into the leaderboards of the world test championship.
Player contribution: Individual brilliance, along with the performances of young talents
Let us now speak about some of the Individual brilliance of the men in blue that everyone has taken notice of.
Surya’s T20 Prowess
In terms of T20s, Surya has become a leader with his consistent performances day in and day out, as he even captains the side in the absence of Rohit. Making his debut in 2021 at the age of 30, the man has been nothing but a revelation in the T20is. Let us look at the stats of this 360-degree batter for this year on T20is to have an overall understanding. SKY has, just like his name has touched the Sky through his T20i performances.
Total Runs: 1841
Highest Score: 117 against England at Trent Bridge
But, in the ODIs, Surya has yet to live up to his expectations, as he has an average of just 27.79 in 2023, which includes four fifties without a single fifty in the World Cup. The fans are eager to see him perform in ODIs as well.
Ashwin is getting closer to 500 wickets
After his short stint of absence for two years, Ashwin has made a strong comeback, inching closer to 500 wickets as he will enter the list of the elite bowlers. With the recent test defeat against England, Ashwin now has 466 wickets to his name, and quite possibly, we will see him getting his 500th wicket in the second test.
As for his performances just in 2023, Ash has 41 wickets in just seven matches, his best performance being 7 for 71 against the Windies.
Shubman, the prince after King Virat
We never thought that we’d have someone who could mimic Sachin Tendulkar or atleast get closer to his stats till we found Virat. Now that Virat is in the latter parts of his career, we didn’t think of a replacement as well until now. We are witnessing the sheer quality of Shubhman Gill.
Shubman scored a whopping 1584 runs in just ODIs in 2023, including five centuries, as well as being the only batter who has reached 1500 runs. He also has a double hundred against New Zealand in ODIs. Shubman at just 24 years of age, has amassed 2154 with an average of 46.82.
And including there are other Young stars who are on the rise, like Ishan Kishan, Rinku Singh, and Avesh Khan.
Return of Virat Kohli
It was inevitable that Virat would make a stellar comeback after two average years without a century with the bat. It was as if a Phoenix had risen from the ashes. Virat completely bossed the ODI World Cup all by himself, being the highest run-getter, scoring 765 runs with an average of 95.62 with 3 centuries and six fifties to his name. Even though Virat couldn’t make India lift the World Cup, he nevertheless was awarded the Player of the Series for his total domination with the bat. He also surpassed the great Sachin Tendulkar by now having the highest amount of hundred in ODI cricket.
Controversies: The captaincy and other issues
The team conflict occurred during the IPL pre-auction period, when the Mumbai Indians activated Hardik Pandya’s release clause from the Gujarat Titans and brought him back, making him captain of the Mumbai Indians. Rohit Sharma, the team’s previously proven captain, was essentially sacked. This sparked a media and fan outburst because Rohit is Team India’s T20i captain, and it is natural and necessary for Mumbai Indians to regard him as the superior captain and an obvious pick for the Team India squad.
However, with Hardik Pandya’s injury and expected absence from the competition, Rohit Sharma appears to be the clear pick for captaincy once more, given the controversy. This issue may put a spot during the captain selection for the T20 World Cup even though in the recent Afghanistan series, Rohit was given the Captaincy after he and Virat got included in the series later on.
There was also another controversy that led to a global media outrage as team India was accused of changing the pitch in accordance with the Team’s favor, creating a track for spinny conditions instead of Pace favoring pitch, which was expected. But ICC cleared the air through this statement
“Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length and have already happened a couple of times. This change was made on the recommendation of the venue curator in conjunction with our host. The ICC independent pitch consultant was apprised of the change and has no reason to believe the pitch won’t play well,”
Looking Ahead for the Men in Blues
The 2023 of India’s cricket journey showcased triumphs in the Asia Cup and Test arena, but a World Cup final loss exposed the weight of expectations. Individual brilliance, from Suryakumar Yadav’s T20 leadership to Virat Kohli’s stellar ODI World Cup return, illuminated the year. Controversies, like the Mumbai Indians’ captaincy saga and pitch-related accusations, stirred discussions. The role of the Indian media and passionate fans became crucial, with debates amplifying across platforms.
As India looks ahead, the focus is on sustaining form and nurturing emerging talents. The T20 World Cup looms, promising fierce competition. The captaincy debate, favoring Rohit Sharma post-controversy, adds intrigue to the team dynamics. Indian cricket’s future hinges on addressing challenges and harnessing the enthusiasm of both media and fans. Their unwavering support and the team’s resilience and individual brilliance set the stage for an exciting chapter in Indian cricket.