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2016's Top five performers in cricket

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2016's Top five performers in cricket

2016 has provided us with some of the many memorable batting performances across the globe while the bowlers have tasted success only one fewer occasions. With cricket all around the world reaching the business end of the year, we bring to you the top five performers of 2016.

The year has come to an end, and we have started the countdown of our top performances list in cricket. 2016 has been dominated by batsmen, with the ever-growing stature of the big four-Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Steven Smith and Joe Root. With almost four batsmen scoring more than 2000 runs and three others crossing the 1500-mark, our list is dominated by batsmen.

5. Steven Smith – Australia (44 Matches, 2,241 Runs, 49.80 Average)

The Australian skipper had to go through a mixed season with his team slipping up regularly this year. But individually, the 27-year old had a brilliant 2016 scoring 6 hundreds and 13 half-centuries. He started the year with superb performances in Australia's 4-1 ODI series win against India while suffering a hiccup in the very next T20 series by losing 3-0 to the Indians.

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After under-performing in the New Zealand ODI series, Smith came back to lead Australia to a series victory in the Trans-Tasman Test series against the Kiwis with knocks of 71, 138 and 53 not out. The subsequent T20 series against South Africa and the World T20 underlined that Smith has not been 100% convincing in the shortest format, but he made amends by guiding Australia to a Triangular series victory against South Africa and West Indies with three fifties.

Despite a 3-0 loss to Sri Lanka followed by back-to-back series defeats at the hands of South Africa, the Aussie skipper is once again back to his best with a career-best knock of 164 against New Zealand and a match-winning knock of 130 against Pakistan in Brisbane.

4. Jonny Bairstow – England (28 matches, 1668 runs, Average 52.12)

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Though Joe Root has the most number of runs in 2016 for England, Jonny Bairstow has been the most reliable whenever his services were called upon. His ODI performances have left us wanting more, but his Test performances were the highlight of the year. 

Despite being continuously left out of England's limited-overs team, Bairstow was rock-solid in Tests. He started with a superb knock of 150 not out against South Africa before grabbing a man-of-the-series award in the series against Sri Lanka with scores of 140, 48, 167 not out and 32 in the three matches.

He showed impeccable consistency in the Test series against Pakistan by scoring 4 fifties in 7 innings while also playing a match-winning knock in the second ODI after being called up in at the last minute. But his maturity came to the fore when England got out of home to play in Asia. The 27-year old has been one of the few bright spots for England in the drawn Test series against Bangladesh and a 4-0 series humiliation against India scoring 4 fifties 7 matches.

3. Rangana Herath – Sri Lanka (16 matches, 60 wickets)

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Kagiso Rabada and Mitchell Starc might have been among wickets, but the consistency with which Rangana Herath delivered for Sri Lanka puts him at number three on our list. It has been a very disappointing year for Sri Lankan cricket where they have lost 24 out of the 43 matches they have played and Herath has played a major role in their winning performances.

The left-armer had a slow start to 2016 as the Asia Cup T20 and World T20 yielded disappointing results for Sri Lanka. In his next series against England, where the Lankans lost 3-0, he seemed to be the only one trying in the seaming English conditions with 7 wickets when their pacers failed miserably.

But it was in the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy at home against Australia that the veteran spinner put his team on the path of redemption by taking 28 wickets in three Tests, with the Lankans whitewashing the Kangaroos 3-0. He was once again the main weapon for Sri Lanka in their tour of Zimbabwe by bagging a whopping 19 wickets in four innings thus ending the year on a high.

2. Ravichandran Ashwin – India(31 matches, 659 runs, 97 wickets)

The Indian all-rounder has set the bar so high that anything less than a five-wicket haul in a match is considered as a poor performance. Though he started the year on a sore note with just two wickets in five matches against Australia, he contributed invaluably to India's journey into the semifinals of World T20 by opening the bowling for MS Dhoni and taking 4 wickets. 

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But it was the Test series in West Indies that he hit the purple patch by scoring back-to-back centuries while also bagging 17 scalps in four Tests. This is incredible for any spinner touring the Caribbean after being criticized for being good only in home conditions. He once again displayed his strengths in the home series against New Zealand bagging 27 wickets in three Tests as India completed a 3-0 whitewash of the Kiwis. 

The 30-year old became unstoppable by the end of the year against England, by scoring 306 runs at an average of 43 while also bagging a whopping 28 wickets to take India to a 4-0 series victory.

1. Virat Kohli – India (37 matches, 2595 runs, average 86.5)

There are many reasons why Virat Kohli is on the top of this list. The Indian Test captain has enjoyed phenomenal success both individually and team-wise as India have now gone 18 Tests without a defeat under his captaincy. He started the year with two superb centuries in the ODI series against Australia, though they came in a losing cause. The Indian talisman set up a 3-0 whitewash of the Aussies in the T20 series with three big half-centuries.

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There is also a hint that India are depending too much on the 28-year old's brilliance. His single-handed efforts in landing them the Asia Cup T20 crown and then guiding them to a semifinal spot at the World T20 being the prime examples. Despite India losing the last-four encounter of the World T20 to eventual champions West Indies, Kohli was adjudged the man-of-the-tournament for scoring 273 runs in 5 matches with an average of 136.5.

The right-hander then captained India's Test side to a 2-0 Test series victory in West Indies, while also scoring his first-ever double century at Antigua. But he didn't stop there, scoring yet another double century at home against New Zealand with India whitewashing the Kiwis in a 3-0 series win. But his single-minded focus to score runs was on display against England as he scored his third  double hundred of the year and raked up 655 runs in five matches, thus leading India to a spectacular 4-0 series victory.

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