The 2018 Test season has been a roller-coaster ride with 7 out of 11 Test series going in the home team's favour. From India's overseas campaign to the arrival of new entrants (Afghanistan and Ireland) in the longest format, it has been an eventful year till now.
We had a thunderous start to the year with India registering their first Test victory in South Africa after 7 years. After that, the Test cricket fraternity was stunned by "Sand-paper gate incident" which incidentally lead to the downfall of Australia's Steven Smith and David Warner.
With the end of India's tour of England, the Test cricket fans witnessed a mouth-watering series even though the scoreline (Eng 4-1 Ind) doesn't do justice to its competitive nature.
As we are just 3 months away from the start of a new calendar year, let's have a look at world's best Test XI of 2018:
#1: Aiden Markram, South Africa
The classy right-handed batsman has been in imperious form, helping South Africa clinch their first-ever series victory in their backyard against the Aussies. His knock of 152 off 216 balls at Johannesburg (4th Test) completely deflated the Aussies and lead to their downfall by 492 runs.
In 2018, Markram has notched up 660 runs with 2 hundreds and 2 half-centuries in 9 matches despite his struggle against Sri Lanka in the Island nation.
#2: Dimuth Karunaratne, Sri Lanka
In 2018, Dimuth Karunaratne has scored 391 runs at a staggering average of 65.16 with a solitary hundred and 3 fifties.
The stylish left-hander proved his worth by bringing out a Man of the Series performance at home against South Africa. In the first Test, Dimuth carried his bat throughout the innings to score a scintillating century (158* off 222 balls).
In just 4 innings, Dimuth racked up 356 runs at a mind-boggling average of 118.67, helping Sri Lanka to whitewash South Africa and win the series 2-0.
#3: Joe Root, England
The England captain broke the jinx (failing to convert 50s into 100s) and scored his 1st century of the year in the 5th Test against India at London (The Oval). Root's flamboyant innings of 125 runs off 190 balls created an apt platform for Cook's farewell hundred.
Despite his inconsistent form, Root scored 719 runs at a healthy average of 42.29 in 10 matches with 6 fifties and a hundred.
Having gained confidence with that century, he will look upon to continue with the same intensity in the tour to Sri Lanka.
#4: Virat Kohli, India
Let it be Tests or ODIs or T20Is, you can't ever resist having this man by your side. Despite his injury concerns, Virat Kohli has been a level above all the international players across the formats in 2018.
Though it has been a cruel year filled with jam-packed overseas tours, Virat has racked up 879 runs in 8 matches at a mighty average of 54.93 with 3 centuries and 4 fifties.
Putting his grueling past behind (2014 tour of England), Virat came out with a man of the series performance (593 runs in 5 matches), conquering his nemesis James Anderson in seamer-friendly conditions (didn't get out to him even once).
#5: AB De Villiers, South Africa
The Superman from South Africa retired from international cricket after helping his team to clinch a crucial Test series victory against the Aussies at home. Though his retirement was out of the blue, his decision was understandable considering his long list of injuries in the recent years.
His vital contributions with the bat during India's tour of South Africa turned the series in host's favour (2-1) despite India's aggressive play.
In 2018, ABD played 7 matches and notched up 638 runs which included a magnificent hundred against Australia at Port Elizabeth (126* off 146 balls).
#6: Jos Buttler, England
Jos Buttler acted as the saviour of the fragile English batting line-up against India in the recently concluded series. Whenever England was in trouble, he blunted the Indian seam bowlers with his counter-attack and score some crucial runs throughout the series.
From being a limited overs specialist, Buttler proved his worth as a Test batsman with a resilient century in the Nottingham Test (3rd match), cementing his place in the batting line-up.
In 7 matches, Buttler has scored 510 runs at an average of 46.36 with 4 fifties and a century.
#7: Jason Holder, West Indies
Jason Holder has been an unsung hero in the West Indies line-up for the past 5 years. Despite his team's struggle, Holder has been a lone warrior, leading his team from the front as an allrounder.
In 5 matches, the bowling all-rounder has scalped 28 wickets at a staggering average of 12 with 3 fifers. With the bat, Holder has scored 265 runs at a decent average of 38.
In the 3rd Test against Sri Lanka, though Holder picked up 9 wickets for the match and scored a vital 74 off 123 balls, his efforts went in vain as Sri Lanka emerged as the winner and drew the series 1-1.
#8: Ravichandran Ashwin, India
The Indian talisman has been India's strike-bowler in the home conditions. Though Ashwin doesn't hold an appreciable record in overseas conditions, a slight improvement in his performance was apparent in South Africa and England.
In 7 matches, Ashwin has picked up 23 wickets at a nominal average of 27.56 out of which 18 wickets were against South Africa and England.
Though Ashwin couldn't satisfy the team's expectation with the bat, he has scored 234 runs in 7 matches, which is more than the top-order batsman Murali Vijay's tally this year.
#9: Pat Cummins, Australia
The Aussie speedster after a long list of injuries has started to reap rewards for his immense talent and hard work. His contribution during the Ashes at home was vital for Australia's 4-0 success against England.
Cummins had a wonderful series against South Africa in the rainbow nation. Though his team was struggling after the 'Sandpaper gate incident', his performance wasn't hampered due to it.
In 2018, Cummins has played 5 matches and picked up 30 wickets at a scintillating average of 19.70 with a solitary fifer.
#10: Kagiso Rabada, South Africa
The South African sensation has been their finest talent in the absence of their pace-attack leader, Dale Steyn.
Rabada has the natural ability to bowl long spells at a deadly pace, knocking the helmets of many star batsmen. One of the delightful moments of 2018 was the battle between Virat Kohli and Kagiso Rabada.
Rabada is one of the fastest seam bowlers to reach the 150-wicket mark. In 9 matches, he has scalped 46 wickets two 5-wicket hauls and a 10-wicket haul, leading the list most wickets in 2018.
#11: James Anderson, England
Being in the twilight of his career, Jimmy's contribution to England and world cricket can never be expressed by words. Even at the age of 36, his hunger for wickets is yet to be satiated.
As usual, Jimmy topped the list of most wickets in Pataudi Trophy (5-match Test series) against India with 24 wickets. His only regret throughout the series was failing to scalp Kohli's wicket.
In 10 matches, Jimmy has picked up 42 wickets at an astonishing average of 20.39 with a lone fifer and has crossed Glenn McGrath's mighty record of 563 wickets (highest by a seam bowler).
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