Our year in review: Part two

Afghanistan

We continue to look at how the internationals teams performed in 2015. India were up and down, Pakistan built up a solid Test unit and Afghanistan came out of their shell but sadly two stalwarts left the international game.

India

The Asian side had a far better record in Test cricket than in the limited-overs formats during the year, although they did lose a Test series in Australia in January.

India bombed out at the semifinal stage of the World Cup, losing by a healthy margin to the eventual champions Australia and they also conceded bilateral series defeats to Bangladesh, away, and South Africa at home.

The defeat to the Aussies in the Tests signalled the end of captain MS Dhoni in the longest format, with Virat Kohli taking over the leadership duties in the white clothing.

The move immediately paid dividends as Kohli led his country to Test series success on Sri Lanka soil for the first time in 22 years, while they also broke South Africa's nine-year unbeaten series away from home when they thrashed the Proteas in India.

Dhoni is still the skipper in limited-overs cricket, and will lead India in the World T20 in March 2016, but it won't be long before Kohli assumes complete control of Ithe national team.

Rating for the year: 6

Pakistan

Pakistan became a solid, experienced Test team under the guidance of 40 year-old captain Misbah-ul-Haq and the batting exploits of veteran Khan.

Three Test series in 2015, three series victories. The Asian team beat Bangladesh and Sri Lanka away from home while they also dispatched England in their adopted home of the UAE.

Their limited-overs form is worrying though. They made the quarterfinals of the World Cup, where they lost to Australia after which Misbah retired and younger players were brought into the side.

Azhar Ali was made captain for the 50-over format and is tenure got off to the worst possible start when Pakistan were whitewashed in Bangladesh.

A momentous occasion came in May when Pakistan hosted it's first international matches in six years, taking on Zimbabwe, who they beat in the three-match ODI series.

They did also beat Sri Lanka away from home but go whitewashed by England in the England in the UAE towards the end of the year.

Younis became Pakistan's leading run-scorer in Test cricket, with more than 7500, and made said it is his ambition to score 10 000 Test runs.

The year however got worse when kingpin legspinner Yasir Shah was suspended from all cricket after testing positive for taking a banned substance.

Rating for the year: 6

Sri Lanka

The everlasting memory of Sri Lanka during 2015 is probably the international retirements of their two stalwarts, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

The duo bowed out after Sri Lanka lost in the quarterfinals on the World Cup against South Africa, and things did not get any better in the 50-over format.

They lost series' in New Zealand and at home to Pakistan but did whitewash a weak West Indies side at home in November.

The Asians did not do any better in the longest format of the game, having lost series away to New Zealand (at the start and end of the year) as well as conceding series to Pakistan and India at home, although they did beat Windies at home.

Rating for the year: 3

West Indies

The state of West Indies cricket continues to take a downward spiral and it does not look like anyone will be able stop their slide into cricket oblivion.

The Caribbean side lost bilateral ODI series in South Africa and got whitewashed away to Sri Lanka, while probably the lowest point was when they lost to Ireland at the World Cup, where they eventually lost in the quarterfinals.

The longest format of the game did not go much better, with the highlight probably being a one-all draw in a series against England at home.

They lost Tests series against South Africa away, Australia (at home and away) and lost all their matches in the white clothing in Sri Lanka.

They continue to be plagued by money issues between the players and Board, with most of the better players preferring to play in T20 domestic leagues around the world than turning out for the regional islanders.

Rating for the year: 1

Zimbabwe

The second best African side had a another struggling year, although, on a more positive note, they managed to play much more games than they usually do.

Disappointed to be knocked out at the group stage of the World Cup, they lost further series during the year against India, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Pakistan but the lowest point would've been losing to Afghanistan on home soil.

They did mange to beat Ireland, also at home, in a three-match series but would need to take stock in the future as they again went through changes in their administration.

Rating for the year: 3

Afghanistan

The success story of international cricket in 2015, Afghanistan had risen to as high as number 10 in the world ODI rankings when 2015 came to an end.

The Afghans were the darlings of the World Cup, not disgracing themselves in the any of their games. In fact 1996 world champions Sri Lanka only squeaked home by four wickets in a group game.

The celebrations that followed their victory over Scotland in the final World Cup match will live long in the memory, but beating Zimbabwe in a bilateral series away from home was when most started to take notice.

Mohammad Nabi will also ply his trade in the Pakistan Super League in 2016 with some of the best players in the world.

Rating for the year: 8

Nasri Alexander

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