Bengaluru, December 27: The chief script writers of India's dominant run at home and in the West Indies and in Sri Lanka in 2017 were that all-too-familiar combination - spinners along with batsman.
R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav made the life of opponents tough, bagging 153 wickets in the calendar year between them in their primary operational areas - Tests and ODIs respectively.
A look at the four's 2017
The Tamil Nadu off-spinner went through a mixed year. On the brighter side, Ashwin completed 300 Test wickets record time - 54 matches that's two less than Aussie pace legend Dennis Lillee. But he had to cede the space to Chahal and Yadav in the ODIs and T20s as India marched towards separate set of spinners for outfits in flannels and coloured clothing. The news about Ashwin learning leg-spin could be as much about his desire to add a new arrow to his bow as about his intention to recapture the place in the India limited over side.
The left-arm spinner did not disappoint in 2017, shifting through his dual role of wicket-taker and container with effortless ease. His membership in the Club 54 that also includes James Anderson and Kaigiso Rabada testifies that fact. But like his partner Ashwin, 'Jaddu' too lost his place in the ODI/T20 side to Chahal and Yadav. He showed the eagerness for being in the colour clothing while hitting six sixes in an over in a domestic competition but for the time being it appears that Jadeja will have to wait for his return.
The wiry leg-spinner took the familiar route to the top. IPL-India T20I-India ODI. Chahal's career appeared going nowhere after making his debut in a series against Zimbabwe in June last year. But his career graph showed upward curve after returning to the side over a year later in the away series against Sri Lanka and he has not given up his spot since then, keeping senior pros Ashwin and Jadeja out.
As a chinaman bowler, Kuldeep Yadav always has that X-Factor about him - pursuant of a rare craft. Since making his ODI debut against the West Indies in June this year, Kuldeep has grown in stature in such proportions that the team management and selectors deemed it fit to give him a chance at the expense of Ashwin and Jadeja. He has taken 22 wickets from 14 matches this year
The 2018 story
The 2018 could be a defining year for the Indian spinners. They will move away from their comfort zone to unforgiving lands, beginning from South Africa. Just to make it more clear, pacers from India have taken 170 wickets from 17 matches to the 81 of spinners.
And they have England and Australia waiting down the year - not a comforting thought. The success the Indian spinners enjoyed in the last year or so has been immense and as the year drawing to a close many feel that it's just a postponing of failure.
The great outings in sports have that curse. They will win you admirers but they will also earn you non-believers in equal numbers - people who want to drop that Oh-I-told-you-this line.
Which way the fortune will turn for Indian spinners?