Virat Kohli and Mithali Raj awarded Wisden’s Leading Cricketer of the Year

2017 wisden's leading cricketer of the year, Virat Kohli and Mithali Raj
Image Credit - Wisden India

Indian Cricket team captain Virat Kohli and India Women’s Cricket team captain Mithali Raj were awarded with the Wisden’s Leading Cricketer of the Year title for 2017. The development has officially pronounced the illustrious feats achieved by the two cricketers in Indian cricket. Let us talk about this further in detail.

In the year when Indian cricket team topped the Test and ODI ICC cricket rankings, Virat Kohli was the most prominent player across the formats, a name which was behind almost every big total, century or a new record. In addition to that, the Team India captain was also ranked seventh in the Forbes list of sporting brands, ahead of the football legend and  Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Virat Kohli’s journey to becoming Wisden Leading Cricketer of the Year two years in a row

In Test cricket, Virat Kohli’s 1,059 runs came at an average of 75. Virat was clearly one of the best, if not the king, as among the cricketers who had 1,000 Test runs, only Australia captain Steve Smith had a better average (by one) than Kohli. Three of Virat Kohli’s five centuries were doubles hundreds, and the other two were unbeaten. Speaking about ODI cricket, the Team India captain scored most runs (1,460) and had the best average (76) of anyone who played more than ten innings; with a strike-rate touching 100. In 46 international cricket fixtures, he had totalled 2,818 runs, and the cricketer who ranked 2nd, i.e. Joe Root, was in a deficit of more than 700 runs, with Steve Smith lagging 1,000 runs behind.

Virat Kohli’s magnificence and strong willed leadership contributed to India winning seven of their 11 Test matches, 21 of 28 completed ODIs, and nine out of 13 T20 fixtures. As a result, the 29-year-old became Wisden’s Leading International Cricketer for the second year in a row (2016, 2017), emulating Virender Sehwag, who had received the title in 2008 and 2009.

Mithali Raj: Wisden’s Leading Cricketer of the Year

The female counterpart to Virat Kohli, i.e. the captain of the India Women’s Cricket team Mithali Raj has had a similar success story to Kohli. In 2017, Mithali Raj had risen above all the cricketing ranks in Women’s cricket, during the World Cup between India and England. As gritty as a soldier and as brainy as a cricketing veteran, Mithali soon broke two records.

First, her 71-run knock off 73 balls in the England vs India World Cup was her seventh consecutive half-century at the time, the longest streak that a women cricketer had displayed in Women’s ODI cricket. Just about three weeks later, during India’s group match against Australia, Mithali Raj went past Charlotte Edwards’ record of scoring 5,992 ODI runs, registering another world cricket record.

The India Women’s cricket team had begun the year of 2017 needing to qualify for the World Cup, with few people backing the team who had not only never achieved the feat ever before, but were also under-resourced. However, a triumphant campaign at the qualifying event in Colombo, where Mithali Raj was dismissed only once in making 207 runs, was followed in England by India Women Cricket team’s first World Cup final in 12 years.

To set in motion some unprecedented developments and achievements, India knocked out the highly rated New Zealand cricket team, with Mithali Raj scoring 109 runs in the fixture, followed by a beat down of the Australian cricket team in the semi-final, which was achieved with the help of Harmanpreet Kaur‘s big-hitting.

It was only because of an excellent late spell from England’s Anya Shrubsole at the Lord’s Stadium, which prevented Mithali Raj from becoming a World Cup-winning captain. However, it could not prevent the 35-year-old woman cricketing stalwart to etch her name in the Wisden’s Leading Cricketer of the Year (2017).

As reported by Wisden India, Mithali Raj had said following India’s defeat at the World Cup,

“Very few people were aware of women’s cricket in our country before the World Cup. But young girls now see a career in women’s cricket.”

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Watch: Mithali Raj speaks about her journey as India captain in this interview with ICC;

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