Some exceptional bowling tracks, and result-oriented wickets have seen bowlers play a key role in 2018 in Tests where batting was generally difficult. There were some memorable spells from many bowlers over the course of the year. Here we take out the cream of the lot.
Keshav Maharaj — 9/129 vs Sri Lanka, Colombo (SSC), July
When Sri Lanka laid out a slow, low track at Colombo, they did not quite account for South Africa's Keshav Maharaj, who had made waves across the globe with his ability to complement the pace attack. Maharaj had played a key role in some of South Africa's Test wins on fast bowling decks in the year and at Colombo, on a rank turner, he produced a career-best 9/129 in the first essay.
Maharaj dismissed all but one Sri Lankan batsman — Roshen Silva, whom Rabada dismissed — after the hosts won the toss and opted to bat first. In the most wicket-taking performance of the year, the South African ripped through the Sri Lankan batting line-up up with terrifying efficiency. He grabbed three more in the second innings to finish with 12 wickets in the Test. That, however, wasn't enough to give South Africa a win.
Yasir Shah — 8/41 vs New Zealand, Dubai, November
Yasir Shah made the Kiwis sweat at Dubai with a memorable performance that saw the visitors collapse from 50/0 to 90 all out. Jeet Raval and Tom Latham had put on a half-century stand in the second Test of the series before Yasir broke through with Raval's wicket. He removed Latham, Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls in the 28th over to leave New Zealand at 61/4 and in the next eight overs mopped them up entirely to finish with figures of 8/41.
New Zealand had lost all 10 wickets in the space of 40 runs and 14 overs with Kane Williamson watching the debacle from the other end. They went on to put up a valiant effort in the second innings, making 312, but still lost by an innings as Yasir added six more to finish with match figures of 14/184, the second best-ever by a Pakistan bowler.
Kemar Roach — 5/ 8 vs Bangladesh, North Sound, July
Armed with a new ball on a decent bowling wicket at North Sound against Bangladesh, Kemar Roach came into his own as he tormented the visitors with a searing opening spell. Bangladesh were reduced to 18/5 in nine overs as Roach picked up all of the five wickets in the space of 12 deliveries. Bangladesh lost opener Tamim Iqbal first, as Roach forced an outside egde to the keeper and soon found their top-order batsmen making a procession back to the hut.
Roach never bowled after the first spell owing to a knee injury but Bangladesh were cleaned up for 43 with the rest of the attack stepping up. West Indies made 406 and further bowled out the sub-continental side for 142 in the second to seal a win by an innings and 219 runs.
Jasprit Bumrah — 6/33 vs Australia, Melbourne, December
One of the best spells in the year came in the last round of Test matches on Boxing Day at Melbourne. Jasprit Bumrah, who had been a terrific bowler in India's overseas quests this year, made a roaring end to the year when he fired on all cylinders in the first innings to dismiss six Australians and close out their innings for 151 in response to India's 443/7 declared.
Bumrah sent back Marcus Harris after Ishant Sharma had dismissed Aaron Finch to grab his first wicket. In a deadly slower ball yorker — one of the deliveries of the year — Bumrah dismissed Shaun Marsh and then blasted through Head's defence with another peach. He added the wickets of captain Tim Paine and two more in the tail to finish with career best figures of 6/33.
Pat Cummins — 6/27 vs India, Melbourne, December
If Bumrah produced a stunner on Boxing Day, so did Pat Cummins, whose sensational spell in the Test came a tad too late for Australia. Armed with a leg-side field and variable bounce, Cummins attacked the ribs of India's batsmen and found the ploy a rather successful one. Cheteshwar Pujara was caught out at leg gully off an uppish flick for a duck and Virat Kohli was caught in the same region four balls later off another flick.
Cummins then found extra bounce to get rid of Ajinkya Rahane, edging down the leg-side to the keeper and cleaned up Mayank Agarwal next day to complete a five-for. He added one more to finish with 6/27 in the innings, a last gasp effort that wasn't quite enough in the end for the Aussies.
Shannon Gabriel - 8/62 vs Sri Lanka
Mehidy Hasan - 7/58 vs West Indies
Trent Boult - 6/32 vs England
Taijul Islam - 6/33 vs West Indies
Duanne Olivier - 6/37 vs Pakistan
Kagiso Rabada - 6/54 vs Australia
Mohammad Shami - 5/28 vs South Africa
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Bangladesh had secured a 44-run lead after bowling out Pakistan for 286, thanks largely to left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, who returned figures of 7-116.
During an interview, Cummins was asked if CA panel had asked him 'anything like a confession' before being appointed as the captain, to which he replied, 'Yeah, there were a couple of questions. I won't go into detail.'
Australia have named a 15-man squad for the opening two Ashes Tests, with skipper Paine, who had gone under the knife to fix a bulging disc in his neck in September, included despite an injury cloud