Team India played seven Test matches in 2022, winning four and losing three.
The year started off on a poor note for India, who lost the plot against South Africa to concede the series despite taking an early lead. Rohit Sharma and Co. were also beaten by England in the rescheduled fifth Test at Edgbaston, with the series ending all square.
India notched up whitewashes over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, though, to keep themselves in the hunt for a spot in the final of the 2022-23 World Test Championship (WTC). Several players contributed to the cause and had breakthrough years, while other seasoned professionals disappointed.
Here is India's best Test XI of 2022.
Openers: Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill
Rohit Sharma played only two of India's seven Tests in 2022. The skipper averaged 30 in those games with a highest score of 46, with both of them coming at home against Sri Lanka in an easy whitewash.
KL Rahul averaged 17.12 in four matches, while Shubman Gill averaged 29.66 in three. Mayank Agarwal, on the other hand, managed only 130 runs in seven innings. All of India's openers performed miserably in 2022, with Gill perhaps edging ahead of the pack as he played all of his Tests away from home and notched up a hundred against Bangladesh.
It's a tough call, since Gill himself had a highest score of 20 in his five innings outside his century, while Rohit didn't have much to show for either. It's tough to pick a man who played only two home Tests and missed five others with injury, especially a couple of crucial overseas assignments.
Cheteshwar Pujara, India's normal No. 3, is used to occasionally being pushed up the order as a makeshift opener. The veteran batter seems to have well and truly reestablished himself in the playing XI after averaging 45.44 in five Tests in 2022.
Middle order: Hanuma Vihari, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk)
Things get really tricky in the middle order as well. Virat Kohli started 2022 splendidly, with a brilliant 79 in South Africa lending hope of a renaissance in the format. But the star batter's form was terrible for the remainder of the year as he ended up with an average of 26.5 and a miserable strike rate of 39.43 over the course of six Tests.
So while Kohli showed glimpses of his quality from time to time, he didn't do enough to warrant a place in the best Test XI of 2022. The spot must go to someone who produced better returns, even if they didn't get as many opportunities in the playing XI.
Hanuma Vihari, inexplicably ousted from the Test side, slots in at No. 3 in this XI. The calm batter played four Tests, amassing 215 runs at an average of 35.83, including a couple of excellent rearguard acts with the tail. He surely deserved a longer run in the side, even if he didn't have many big scores in the year.
Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant were India's two highest Test run-getters in 2022. While the former hit 422 at an average of 60.28, the latter plundered 680 at an average of 61.81 and a stupendous strike rate of 90.90.
Ajinkya Rahane averaged 17 in two Tests before losing his place in the side, and rightfully so. He is nowhere near this XI.
All-rounders: Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin
India would normally not go with six bowling options in a Test match, but the frontline batters seriously let the team down in 2022. As a result, this best XI comprises three spinners and three fast bowlers.
Ravichandran Ashwin was India's second-highest wicket-taker in 2022, with 20 scalps in six Tests. He was also their fifth-highest run-getter, notching up 270 runs at an average of 30.
Ravindra Jadeja, meanwhile, had 328 runs in just three games, with his unbeaten 175 boosting his numbers. He recorded 10 wickets, nine of which came in the same match as his massive century.
Axar Patel had a disappointing year by his standards with the bat, averaging just 14. He played an important knock in the recently concluded second Test against Bangladesh, though, and was India's fourth-highest wicket-taker with 11 scalps at 22.27.
Bowlers: Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah (c)
Two of India's premier pacers had disappointing numbers in 2022.
Mohammad Shami picked up 13 wickets in three matches to be placed third on the charts, but he averaged 34.46 and a couple of highly unimpressive spells immediately come to mind. Mohammed Siraj, on the other hand, had a bowling average of 39.2, although he too managed 10 scalps.
So purely out of compulsion, Shardul Thakur makes it into this XI. The fast bowler registered 11 wickets in three matches at 25.45, with his famous seven-fer still fresh in memory. Only three bowlers picked up fewer wickets than Umesh Yadav, but the talented quick played only three Tests and returned nine scalps at 24.11.
Rounding off the XI is the inimitable Jasprit Bumrah, who was India's highest wicket-taker with 22 victims in five matches at 20.31. The canny speedster is also the captain of this side, with Rohit and Rahul missing out.
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