India continued their dominance at the top of the ICC Test Team rankings with fantastic performances both home and away, captain Virat Kohli leading from the front as he ended 2018 top of the ICC Test Batsmen rankings.
The Indian team began their year in South Africa with a hard-fought series against the home team. Although they lost the series against the Proteas, debutant Jasprit Bumrah made his mark during these Tests and carried on his good form throughout the year.
Following a brief but historic home encounter with Afghanistan, India faced off against England in an engaging five-match series that was probably much more competitive than the 4-1 series loss they walked away with.
They then welcomed the West Indies and thoroughly thumped them before heading down under to Australia, on the brink of securing a historic series result with a win or a draw in the New Year’s Test in Sydney.
The English began the year with the conclusion of a 4-0 Ashes drubbing in Australia before crossing the Tasman Sea to lose the two-match series 1-0 against New Zealand. That loss was followed up by a drawn two-match home series against Pakistan before England’s fortunes changed.
The upturn in results began with a convincing home-series win against India before concluding their last Test matches for the year in Sri Lanka with a morale-boosting 3-0 victory over the home team to secure second place on the ICC team rankings.
The Black Caps began their year in March with an emphatic home win against England. They followed that up with a hard-fought 2-1 series win against Pakistan in the UAE (becoming the second team to beat Pakistan in their adopted home) before dominating Sri Lanka in Christchurch during the Boxing Day Test to secure their fourth series win a row. That record-breaking run propelled New Zealand to third on the ICC rankings.
The year began well for the Proteas with a convincing series win against No 1-ranked India in South Africa. They followed that up with a dramatic win against Australia in a controversial Test series that included the infamous Sandpapergate in Newlands.
Following the highs of those hard-fought victories, the Proteas had a disastrous tour of Sri Lanka that attracted plenty of criticism from home. They will be keen to bounce back up after slumping to fourth in the ICC rankings. The Proteas are currently facing off against Pakistan and lead the three-match series 1-0.
The Australians suffered through probably their most humiliating and chastening year in 2018. After the high of beginning the year with an Ashes sweep at home, they took to South Africa with the intent of extending their winning run on Proteas soil before things went catastrophically pear-shaped.
Following the loss in South Africa and bans to captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, the Baggy Greens suffered through a devastating string of losses as they saw themselves plummet to fifth on the ICC rankings.
The Islanders suffered an up and down year in 2018, with emphatic wins against Bangladesh and South Africa along with a draw against the West Indies in the Caribbean, before rounding out the year with a run of series losses at the hands of England (on home soil) and New Zealand. They are currently sixth on the table following their inconsistent year.
Pakistan began their year in Ireland with a hard-fought win in a one-off Test match. They then went to England and drew the two-match series 1-1 before facing off and winning against a reduced Australia in the UAE. The wheels came off the Pakistan bus after an unexpected home-series loss to New Zealand as their batsmen hit a barren spell.
The poor run continued in South Africa with a loss in the Boxing Day Test and their subsequent seventh-place ranking at the end of the year.
The West Indies showed fine form on home soil with a win against Bangladesh and a draw against Sri Lanka. Their travels didn’t fare as well, as they suffered defeat at the hands of India and Bangladesh on tour before ending the year ranked a lowly eighth on the ICC rankings table.
The year began poorly for Bangladesh with a home-series loss to Sri Lanka before suffering an away loss to the West Indies. They went on to draw at home against Zimbabwe in a two-match series before restoring some national pride with a convincing 2-0 series win against the West Indies on home soil.
Zimbabwe only played two Test matches in the entirety of 2018 as they faced off against the Tigers in Bangladesh. The Zimbabweans managed to record their first-ever away Test victory in the process, before drawing the two-match series 1-1. They will be keen to get more Test matches in future if they plan on moving up from their tenth position on the ICC team rankings.
Ireland & Afghanistan
The two new additions to the Test arena, Ireland and Afghanistan, suffered losses in their first and only Tests in their country’s histories, with both sides being asked to follow on. Ireland struggled in their first innings, but fought back well through a Kevin O’Brien century (118), and came out with a lot of credit from their five-wicket loss.
Afghanistan, sadly, fared disastrously, losing to India in two days as their batters survived less than 66 overs in scoring 109 and 103. They certainly have the quality of players to do well in Test cricket once they find their feet, and both teams will be looking forward to their next Test match, starting on 18 March when Afghanistan hosts Ireland.
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