2020 was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride for Indian cricket and its fans. You've had a bad patch. You shrug, move on, and anticipate better things to happen in the future. The year perhaps turned into a bittersweet memory for all Indian fans. 2020 witnessed very little sporting action due to the unexpected coronavirus hiatus. Though the much-awaited IPL 2020 went on the floors after many delays, the national side had a minimal stretch on the cricket field. Empty stadiums and fake applauses rubbed salt into the wound.
Indian team started its expedition this year on a positive note, crushing Sri Lanka 2-0 in the three-game T20I affair. After the wet outfield played a spoilsport in the first T20I game at Guwahati, the Indian team left no stone unturned to annihilate the islanders in the next two matches. The second and third encounters were rather one-sided, with Virat Kohli's men registering comprehensive victories in Indore and Pune.
Following Sri Lanka, the caravan moved on to the three-game ODI series against Australia. After getting outdone in the first game at Wankhede, India bounced back to register a 2-1 win over the Aaron Finch-led side.
The touring party was looking like the favourites to clinch the ODI series, especially after their show in the first game of the series. On the back of skipper Finch and David Warner's ton, they achieved a comprehensive 10-wicket win in the opening clash. The momentum, however, shifted in favour of India in the next two games. With Shikhar Dhawan's 96 (90 balls) and KL Rahul's 80 (52 balls) in the subsequent ODI, Kohli's men grabbed a 36-run victory to level the series 1-1. India didn't disappoint in the final game at Chinnaswamy Stadium. To end the ODI affair on a high note, they achieved a seven-wicket victory to seal the series 2-1.
India's topsy-turvy ride in New Zealand
The first month of the year was filled with power-packed international action. In their first overseas tour of 2020, India scripted a historic 5-0 series sweep against the Kiwis in New Zealand, which included two Super Over thrillers. India, however, left New Zealand in a disheartening way, suffering whitewash in the subsequent ODI series. The last time India had lost all the matches in an ODI series (minimum 3 matches) was back in 1989 against West Indies. The whitewash was also India's first one in any format (minimum 3 matches) under the Kohli's captaincy.
And the ever so dependable, Jasprit Bumrah, also went wicketless in an ODI series for the first time in his career. To add to India's woes, the red-ball series was also disastrous for the visiting side as Kohli's brigade failed to leave a mark in whites too. They suffered their 1st Test series whitewash in eight years after the Kiwi side handed India defeats in both the matches.
After a 10-wicket drubbing in the first Test, a lot was expected from Indian batsmen in the next game in Christchurch. However, the team's woeful run with the bat continued in the second Test too. India lost 6 wickets for just 90 runs in the final session to hand over the victory to the Kiwi side.
Little did anyone know, about two weeks later, the world was about to witness 'The new normal'. The Covid-19 pandemic abruptly hit Indian cricket in March when India's last two ODIs against South Africa and in Lucknow and Kolkata were called off. The coronavirus-positive cases in India at that point of time were less than 100. The situation, however, grew worse in no time. The count was more than 30,000 by the end of April. In the wake of increasing cases and fear, the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 was also postponed twice before it was shifted to the UAE.
MS Dhoni's departure
Meanwhile, India stalwart MS Dhoni, on 15th August, drew curtains on an illustrious international career through an Instagram video. Shocking the entire cricket fraternity, 'Mahi' finished off in style and silently walked off the biggest stage. While announcing his retirement, Dhoni shared a video depicting his entire cricketing journey with the national side. From breaking into the Indian team as a young long-haired boy from Ranchi to becoming one of the most decorated skippers of India -- Dhoni bid adieu to international cricket as a legend.
Your contribution to Indian cricket has been immense, @msdhoni. Winning the 2011 World Cup together has been the best moment of my life. Wishing you and your family all the very best for your 2nd innings. pic.twitter.com/5lRYyPFXcp— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) August 15, 2020
Upon his retirement, social media, in no time, was flooded with tributes and wishes for the Ranchi stalwart. Millions of fans lauded Dhoni for his stellar contribution to Indian cricket. Moreover, Suresh Raina also decided to hang his boots within minutes of Dhoni’s announcement, leaving fans stunned as well as perplexed. Indian cricket, fans, in particular, lost several players who were an integral part of their childhood. Two notable players -- Irfan Pathan and Parthiv Patel -- also announced their retirement from all forms of cricket.
IPL 2020 extravaganza
Amid all the chaos and uncertainty, Indian fans finally saw a glimmer of hope. At a time when cricket in the country was looking like a distant dream, the BCCI identified the UAE as a viable option to host the thirteenth season of the IPL. The 60-match T20 extravaganza, which started on September 19, ended on November 10 with Mumbai Indians (MI) defeating Delhi Capitals (DC) to emerge as champions and successfully defend their title. This year's IPL also rolled out many twist and turns. One of the most successful IPL franchises, MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in the history of the tournament. Just 2020 things?
It was a disappointing season for the Chennai-based outfit, who missed their two star players -- Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh. CSK's miserable journey in the UAE started with multiple members of their contingent -- including Ruturaj Gaikwad and Deepak Chahar -- testing positive for the novel virus. During the course of the tournament, CSK faced backlash for their inconsistent show and lack of intent. Dhoni too, on multiple occasions, was questioned for his slow batting approach at the death. The Yellow Army ended their torrid season at the seventh place after clinching six victories in 14 games.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Kohli also had to face the heat after his side's fiasco. In their pursuit to lift maiden IPL silverware, RCB choked in the playoffs, leading to many fans calling for a change in captaincy. Former India opener Gautam Gambhir also scrutinized Kohli's below-par record while leading the Bangalore franchise for eight years.
While Kohli and Dhoni had a forgetful IPL season, Rohit Sharma had a tournament to remember. Despite missing out on a few games due to hamstring injury, he became the first captain to win five IPL trophies. The 'Hitman' has also won the title playing under Adam Gilchrist's captaincy in the Deccan Chargers back in 2009. Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) skipper KL Rahul also had a stellar IPL season, finishing as the top-scorer with 670 runs which included two tons.
Even though CSK had their worst Indian Premier League (IPL) season in 2020, the MS Dhoni-led side was seemingly on everyone's mind on Twitter as it was the most tweeted team during the course of the tournament.
India Women's disheartening World Cup defeat
The Indian women's team also had a disheartening stint at the World Cup. The women's World Cup final -- a game that saw a record attendance of 86,174 spectators -- turned out to be a woeful day for the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side. Hunting a daunting total of 184 against Australia, the Indian women team managed to post just 99 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Few members of the Indian side were also in tears after the heartbreaking defeat. That was also the last international game of 2020 for India Women. The likes of Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj did brace the field in the Women's T20 Challenge in the UAE. The three-team tournament was scheduled in November where Mandhana-led Trailblazers lifted their maiden title by defeating last year's winner, Supernovas, in the final.
India's batting debacle in Australia
After the culmination of an entertaining IPL edition, the Indian players boarded the flight to Australia for the much-awaited multi-series tour Down Under. Indian players embraced international cricket after over eight months. The ODI series, however, was a heedless three-match affair for the Indian side which was sporting a dark blue retro jersey.
The Aussies outclassed Kohli's men in the first two games to pocket the three-match series. Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell looked in sublime touch with the bat as Indian bowlers seemed hapless in overseas conditions. India did manage to get a consolation win in the third ODI, with Hardik Pandya turning up with the bat and slamming 92* off just 76 deliveries. The victory in the last ODI did help India in reversing their fortune. Kohli's men dominated the first two T20Is to take an unassailable 2-0 lead before Australia won the third one.
India managed to redeem themselves in the shortest format but their horrendous batting debacle was yet to unfold. In Rohit's absence, India notched up their lowest ever Test total in the much-awaited pink-ball Test Down Under. India were restricted to 36 for nine in their second innings in Adelaide, eclipsing their "Summer of 42" show of 1974. At one stage, India lost their eight wickets at the score of 26, leaving fans in dismay. Not a single Indian batsman was able to reach double figures on the morning of Day 3 of the match, making it one of the darkest days in India's Test cricket history.
What followed was a humiliating eight-wicket defeat. To make things worse, father-to-be Kohli will be heading back to India along with injured Mohammed Shami, who suffered a fracture while being in the middle during India's batting fiasco. The year 2020 was also an unexpected one for Kohli as he finished it without ODI century, a first since 2008. Kohli (870) and Rohit (842), however, are set to finish the year while being on the top two spots in ICC ODI batsmen rankings.