Fourteen bilateral series wins out of 16 (unbeaten throughout the year if you leave out the loss in one-off T20I against West Indies). 36 wins in 52 matches with a staggering win percentage of 69. And a Win/loss ratio of 3.000; the next best being South Africa at 1.846. 21 wins at home, most in a calendar year in international cricket. 2017 might just be a watershed year in Indian cricket. A year which tells the story of their sustained dominance and scaling of greater heights.
The numbers, in a way, seem unreal. Only one team has had more wins in a calendar year in international cricket — Australia, 38, in 2003. India have come tantalisingly close, however, they won't be able to break that record. After two monstrous wins over Sri Lanka, they would be looking a cap off a glorious year with a 3-0 whitewash when they take on the Lankans in the final match of the season at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.
More often than not, at the fag end of a tour to India, most visiting teams start getting into submission mode, and Sri Lanka are no different. After 1-0 loss in Test series and 2-1 loss in ODIs, they are staring at the prospect of a whitewash in T20Is. Throughout this tour, the islanders have teased their fans with sparks of revival. Those sparks never translated into consistency. One crucial factor they missed out on was sustained momentum. They started off well in the Test series in Kolkata and then in the ODIs in Dharamsala but fizzled out faster than a damp barbecue. The transition has frustratingly taken too long and after the 9-0 thrashing in their own backyard earlier this year coupled with 5-1 trail so far in India, all you want to do is give them a bear hug.
The drubbings in the two T20Is were symptomatic of the problems that have plagued Sri Lankan cricket in the last few years. Poor planning, lack of pace, rusty fielding, minimal intelligence and mind-boggling decision-making, everything was on display. The bowling unit has averaged 54.37 and conceded 10.87 runs an over. The only bowler who has given away less than seven runs an over (6.56) is out of the final T20I with an injured hamstring — Angelo Mathews. In comparison, Indian bowlers have averaged 13.52 with an economy rate of 7.71.
The batting unit has failed to live up to the expectations and has averaged a meagre 13.05 compared to India's 53 in the T20I series. Again, they showed glimpses of flamboyance while chasing 261 in Indore but then collapsed in a heap. It will take massive will power to get back on their feet again and leave the Indian shores with some pride.
Captain Thisara Perera, who hasn't done anything of significance, needs to lead from the front and rally his troops, for one last time. A much improved all-round display is the need of the hour. All-rounder Dasun Shanaka might replace injured Mathews in the side while left-arm pacer Vishwa Fernando or all-rounder Sachith Pathirana might replace Chaturange de Silva.
India, on the other hand, haven't done much wrong. KL Rahul has got into the groove nicely on his comeback. MS Dhoni's promotion up the order has worked and the wrist spinners — Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal — have left the batsmen scratching their heads.
However, Sri Lanka might be in for some relief as India would look to experiment with the series in the bag. With the Wankhede wicket assisting some movement and extra bounce, one of Mohammed Siraj or Basil Thampi may get a look-in in place of Jasprit Bumrah. All-rounder Washington Sundar might be in for his T20I debut in place of one of the wrist spinners and Deepak Hooda too might be in line for his international debut replacing one of Manish Pandey or Dinesh Karthik in the middle order. It will be interesting to see how much India are ready to experiment with momentum and whitewash in sights.
Rohit Sharma has been feasting on the Lankans like a Viking. The islanders wouldn't want to take a glance at the stat which says: Rohit Sharma holds the record of scoring most runs at Wankhede Stadium in T20 cricket — 1526 runs from 52 innings at an average of 37.21.
While everything is stacked against them, there is a flickering light at the end of the tunnel for the Lankans. India have lost both their T20Is at the venue and haven't won a single match in white-ball cricket (lost two T20Is and two ODIs) since 2011 when they defeated England back in 2011.
The average score batting first in T20s at Wankhede since 2016 has been 165 and the teams batting second have won four out of five T20Is at Wankhede. It's a decent scoring ground with something in it for the bowlers too.
India have the momentum on their side and with Sri Lanka battered and confidence sapped, this is the best chance to break their white-ball hoodoo at Wankhede and end a glorious year in style.
With stat inputs from Umang Pabari