The gentlemen's sport of cricket witnessed some priceless moments and brilliant performances in the year 2018. However, it's now time to say goodbye to a year that proved to be one of the best in recent memory for the bowlers.
While we keep talking about how the batsmen have been all over the bowlers in all formats of the game, the bowlers were exceptional in 2018. They gave it back to the batsmen, especially in the purest format of the game, the Test format.
Now, the World Cup year that is 2019 is sure to bring surprises for us. Who knows, all the opportunities missed by players, from scoring 500 runs in an ODI match to hitting six sixes in an over, could be grabbed once again by various teams and players.
Here are five bold predictions for the year 2019:
#5 Double-century in T20 cricket
'A double-century in T20 cricket? Are you kiddin' me?' - This would be the reaction of most of us five years ago if asked about the chances of a double ton being scored in the T20 format of the game.
However, in the span of just a few years, a lot of things have changed. The destructive power-hitters of the world have given us hope that a double-century in T20 cricket is not impossible.
If Rohit Sharma gets a great start and reaches his century before the 10th or 12th over, a double century shouldn't be too difficult, should it? The same applies to players like Martin Guptill, Aaron Finch and Colin Munro, who like to score big after getting good starts.
#4 MS Dhoni to retire
I believe the year 2019 will be a heart-breaking year for all the MS Dhoni fans across the globe. Many, including me, have predicted that Dhoni might step down from a glorious cricketing career after the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.
The fact that he is no more the vintage Dhoni we used to see some years back strengthens the case of his retirement. While AB de Villiers' sudden retirement became the saddest moment of 2018, Dhoni could bring back the same moments for his die-heard fans in 2019.
Most of us don't want that to happen, but with Dhoni's fading prowess, it would be good for him to hang up his boots from professional cricket and preserve the immense prestige he has gained since his debut.
#3 A triple century in Tests and a double century in ODIs for Virat Kohli
What are the only two things that could have been accomplished by Virat Kohli in previous years but haven't been achieved by him yet? A triple ton in Tests and a double in ODIs.
Sounds tough, but Kohli can make it happen.
What makes me believe in him? It's his temperament, technique and ability to play consistent cricket in all formats of the game.
Kohli already has a lot of double centuries to his name in Test cricket, and there's no reason why he can't convert a double into a triple at least once in his career.
Now, what makes me believe Kohli will score an ODI double-century in 2019 is his gritty knock of 160 runs against South Africa in 2018. Imagine a scenario where one of the Indian openers gets out in the first or second over, and Kohli comes out to bat with complete focus and dedication.
In case Kohli hangs around till the end, a double-century for him is not impossible. After all, he has also scored 183 runs in an innings in ODI cricket, 17 runs short of a double.
#2 Breaking the 500-run barrier in ODI cricket
'Come on, stop dreaming of it mate!' - The reaction of one of my friends when I told him about my prediction.
But why should I stop dreaming of something that's bound to happen one day? 50 years ago, a 300-score in ODI cricket was thought impossible; a few decades ago, 400 runs by a team in one innings in ODIs seemed improbable; and now, 500 seems far from possible.
But we all witnessed how England almost made this prediction go right in 2018 itself, against their famous rivals Australia. Had Moeen Ali and Joe Root continued the momentum at the death, the amazing feat would have been achieved.
I expect this mark to be breached in 2019. It seems like too tough a task, but when the English batsmen are in form, anything can happen.
Short boundaries, larger bats, T20 approach and flat pitches could contribute to achieving the feat.
#1 India win the World Cup trophy after 8 years
My final prediction for the year 2019 is the Kohli-led Indian team clinching their third ICC World Cup title.
There's absolutely no doubt about India's strength as an ODI side. They have an impeccable top order, a solid middle-order, a fine pool of all-rounders, a lethal pace battery and a marvelous spin attack, which make them a real powerhouse in ODI cricket.
The only other team in one-day cricket that can give a serious challenge or emerge victorious against India is England. With the World Cup tournament to be played in England, the English team certainly have the upper hand, but sometimes it's about one good day or one bad day at the office.
If luck favors India and their players apply themselves in critical situations, Kohli can certainly emerge as the third World Cup-winning captain of India.
RCB to clinch the IPL title? Too big a thing to ask for, given that they have still not found a reliable fast-bowling unit even after the auctions.