The Combined Best Test XI of 2018
The year 2018 has been a busy year for all international cricket teams. As we wind up the year 2018, a total of 45 Test matches have been played so far in the year. With the 3 ongoing Boxing Day Test matches, we would have come across a total of 48 Test matches by the end of 2018.
In 2018, India have played 13 Test matches, won 6 and lost 7. However, India managed to hold on to their No 1 ICC rankings in Test matches.
As we bid adieu to 2018, let us select the combined best Test XI for 2018 based on the performances of the players in this year.
Suppositions in selecting the players
1. The performance of the players in 2018 is the main criteria for selection.
2. The past records and the reputation of the players have not been taken into account.
3. The strength of the opposition and the nature of wickets, being qualitative factors, have not been considered in assessing the performance of a particular player.
4. As far as possible, an attempt is made to give equal representation from all Test playing nations.
5. The performances of the players before the Boxing Day Test matches have been taken into consideration.
#1 Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka)
Matches – 8, Innings – 15, Runs scored – 736, Avg – 52, Hundreds – 1, Fifties – 7
The Sri Lankan opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne has been in fine form in 2018. He is the fifth highest scorer in Test matches in 2018. He has achieved this distinction by playing in a mere 8 Test matches in the year. Add to the fact that he is a left-hander at the top of the order who is adept at facing both the fast bowlers and the spinners.
Karunaratne had a slow start to the year when he scored just 35 runs in the series against Bangladesh in Bangladesh. However, in the home series against South Africa Karunaratne came into his own with scores of 158 not out, 60, 53 and 85. In the first innings of the first Test at Galle, Dimuth carried his bat through. In that match, Karunaratne accounted for 45% of the runs scored by Sri Lanka in the entire match. He was the Player of the Series.
Even in the three- series against England which Sri Lanka lost badly, Karunaratne made his presence felt with an aggregate of 256 runs.
The other contenders include Dean Elgar, Markram, and Tom Latham. But Karunaratne is the ideal choice as an opener in this combined XI.
#2 Kusal Mendis (Sri Lanka)
Matches - 11, Innings – 21, Runs scored – 941, Avg – 47, Hundreds – 3, Fifties – 3
Kusal Mendis is the make-shift opener in the team. This arrangement is made to accommodate the other in-form batsmen in the middle order. Moreover, during the year, 377 of his 941 runs came as an opener.
In the recently concluded first Test at Wellington against New Zealand, Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews batted through the entire fourth day’s play to earn their team an honorable draw. Sri Lanka were staring at defeat when they were reduced to 13 for 3 in the second innings. Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews added 274 runs for the fourth wicket without being separated. In the process, they consumed 109 overs and helped by the weather on the final day, Sri Lanka managed to salvage a draw. Kusal Mendis remained not out on 141.
Mendis started the year with a bang smashing 196 opening the innings against Bangladesh. He later scored another century as an opener against the West Indies at Port of Spain. But his best innings came against England in the third Test at Colombo when he scored a brilliant 86 in the fourth innings on a deteriorating wicket.