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Published on January 2nd, 2019 | by Arunabha Sengupta

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2018 year-ender: The best Test XI

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2018 saw some enthralling Test matches, with the conditions mostly skewed in favour of the bowlers. There were some great bowling performances, predominantly fast bowling. And the batsmen who did well in these circumstances were really special.

Here is our pick of the 2018 Test XI based on the year’s performances:

Openers:

Dimuth Karunarathne

Consistent and with the ability to play the huge innings, Karunarathne is the ideal man to have in the side for a solid start. He scored that mammoth 158 unbeaten runs, carrying the bat at Galle. And he was also consistent in New Zealand. 743 runs at 46.43

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Tom Latham

Only one half-century away from home in the 12 months under consideration, but Latham showed the ability to dig in for hours at a stretch and the 264 not out was special. 658 runs at 59.81

Middle-order:

Kane Williamson 

Class, sheer class. The two superb knocks at Abu Dhabi were etched with magnificence. He scored at will, home and away. 651 runs at 59.18

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Virat Kohli

The best batsman in the world at the moment. Be it Edgbaston, Centurion or Perth, he tamed the most venomous of all attacks. No one comes close to his genius. 1322 runs at 55.08

AB de Villiers 

Even in his swansong year, De Villiers was magical. He went out all guns blazing and with every bit of brilliance intact. 638 runs at 53.16

Wicket Keeper:

Johnny Bairstow

This was not a great year with the bat. But his keeping was almost flawless. And the hundred from No 3 in Sri Lanka showed his pedigree as a batsman. At No 6, he can play as a genuine batsman. 478 runs at 29.87, 29 catches 2 stumpings (as wicketkeeper)

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All-rounder:

Ravindra Jadeja 

Why not Sam Curran? Why not Jason Holder? For the simple reason of balance in the side. Jadeja is one of the best spinners of the world, a much-improved batsman at Test level and a superb fielder. The year has not really been great for spinners.

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Jadeja has performed whenever he has got the opportunity, both at home and away, against toughest oppositions. All these boxes have not been ticked by either Sam Curran or Jason Holder. The numbers he has amassed are quite brilliant. 228 runs at 45.60, 25 wickets at 22.32.

Bowlers:

Pat Cummins 

A superb man to come in first change, who can make the best of them uncomfortable, as Virat Kohli will agree. Besides, he is someone who can hold his own with the bat at No 8. 44 wickets at 19.97, 251 runs at 17.92

Kagiso Rabada 

A bowler who keeps getting better. 52 wickets at 20.07, at the ridiculously low strike rate of 38.2. Rabada was spectacular. 52 wickets at 20.07

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Mohammad Abbas 

Perhaps the best bowler of the year. His average (13.76) strike-rate (36) combination makes one wonder whether he is a throwback from the non-standardised pitches of the 19th century. 38 wickets at 13.76

Jasprit Bumrah 

Yes, this is indeed a four-pronged pace attack, something 2018 richly deserves. And Bumrah is one of the most exciting cricketers unearthed at Test level this year. 48 wickets at 21.02

Team:

Karunaratne, Latham, Williamson(captain), Kohli, De Villiers, Bairstow (wk), Jadeja, Cummins, Rabada, Abbas, Bumrah.

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About the Author

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Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and the author of Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of The Ashes. He tweets @senantix.



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