Dubai: Indian cricketers finally seem to be reaping fruits of their hard work over the past 12 months, which, in turn, translated into some fantastic results for Team India.
Though there have been many catalysts to India’s stupendous recent performances, none has been more significant than captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
And deservedly, Dhoni, along with his team mates Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh, has been nominated for the prestigious ICC Cricketer of the Year award.
The above mentioned trio, along with the evergreen VVS Laxman, also features amongst those, nominated for ICC Test Player of the Year award.
Not surprisingly, Dhoni has been nominated for ICC ODI Player of the Year award as well. He gets company from dashing duo Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag in this segment.
In the 2008-09 season, Dhoni led India to Test victories over Australia (home), England (home) and New Zealand (away), besides registering bilateral ODI series triumphs over Sri Lanka twice (both away), England (home), New Zealand (away) and recently West Indies (away).
During the 9 Tests he played in this period, Dhoni contributed 918 runs to the Indian cause at an average of 54.40, while the in 15 ODIs (excluding the West Indies series) he played, his 592 runs came at an astonishing average of 65.77!
His most potent weapon during his conquests, especially the Tests, was Gautam Gambhir.
The Delhi southpaw, currently ranked second in the ICC Test rankings, amassed a whopping 2612 runs from just 8 Tests last season at a ‘Bradmanisque’ average of 84.60, striking as many as 5 hundreds.
His one-day form was more mortal but staggering nonetheless. He scored 606 runs at an average of around 45 from the 15 one-dayers he played, scoring a solitary 100.
Following Anil Kumble’s retirement, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was faced with the mountainous task of stepping into the former’s shoes. And, as statistics reveal, Harbhajan has lived up to the challenge quite efficiently.
With 39 wickets from 8 Test matches, at an average of 27.05, Harbhajan has played a perfect foil to team India’s pace attack.
Most noticeable aspect of Harbhajan though has been the rapid strides he has taken to improve his batting prowess.
He has scored 3 crucial half-centuries and averages a healthy 32 in the 2008-09 season.
He added 12 wickets to his kitty from the 10 ODIs he played last season.
Laxman, whose contributions to Indian cricket have been restricted just to Tests lately, scored 1531 runs from 9 Tests, at an average of 61.75. His 2 centuries include a double hundred against his bunnies- The Australians.
Yuvraj undoubtedly has been India’s most powerful performer in the shorter versions of the game, setting victories for India single-handedly.
In the 15 one-dayers he played, he scored 643 runs at an average of 59.08 and a mind-boggling strike-rate of 110. He also scored 3 centuries.
During the same period, Sehwag played 14 one-dayers, butchering 782 runs at a strike-rate of 127! He averaged 60, scoring 2 centuries.
Courtesy these efforts, India have moved up the second rank in ODIs and the third rank in Tests.
Dhoni has already been the ODI Player of the Year in 2008 besides being named in the ODI Team of the Year.
Zaheer Khan was nominated for Twenty20 Performer of the Year award while Amit Mishra will be vying for the honour in the Emerging Player of the year category as Indians led the overall nominations for the award.
Mithali Raj and Priyanka Roy were nominated for the Women`s Cricketer of the year award.
The ICC Awards nominations were announced by dashing Indian opener Virender Sehwag and former captain Ravi Shastri in the presence of International Cricket Council Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat.
The awards will be presented on October 1 in Johannesburg, South Africa during the Champions Trophy.
The nominations were based on performances from August 13, 2008 to August 24, 2009 and were selected by a five-member selection panel, headed by former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd,
The panel also included former India Test captain Anil Kumble, Mudassar Nazar of Pakistan, Bob Taylor of England and New Zealand`s Stephen Fleming.
The awards include eight individual prizes and also features the selection of the Test and ODI Teams of the Year.
There will also be an award to the side that has adhered most to the Spirit of Cricket.