Ravindra Jadeja has been voted the best player of India's home season by both ESPNCricinfo's readers and an expert panel consisting of ESPNCricinfo staff and three former India Test cricketers, Sanjay Manjrekar, Ajit Agarkar and Aakash Chopra. Jadeja, who averaged 22.83 with the ball and 42.76 with the bat over the 13 Tests India played at home between September and March, got 65% of the 20,500-plus votes cast by readers. He fared similarly in the vote by the panel, with six out of 10 members voting for him. Cheteshwar Pujara, who got 12% of the readers' vote, had two votes from the panel, while R Ashwin and Virat Kohli got one each.
The panel's decision was consistent with the readers' on five of the seven questions asked in the poll. Both chose Umesh Yadav as the best support act of the season, England's Haseeb Hameed as debutant of the season, the second Test in the India-Australia series, in Bengaluru, as the Test of the season and Steven Smith as the visiting player of the season. Smith's selection was emphatic - all ten of the panel members voted for him, and 92% of 17,900-plus readers who voted on the question agreed. Wriddhiman Saha and KL Rahul pushed Umesh for the title of best support act, getting 29% and 31% of the readers' vote respectively, while Umesh got 37% (7000-plus votes). The ESPNCricinfo panel decision was not as close, with Umesh getting seven out of ten votes.
Hameed edged out Kuldeep Yadav in the best debutant category in the reader vote, but it was Jayant Yadav who was closest competition in the panel's vote, getting three votes to Hameed's five. The Bengaluru Test and the final one of the season, in Dharamsala, were separated by less than 1000 votes in the readers' poll, but Bengaluru won easily among our panel, with seven members picking it. Two picked Dharamsala and one went for the Test against New Zealand in Kolkata.
The two categories the readers and panel disagreed on were innings of the season and bowling performance of the season. The readers selected Pujara's marathon 202 against Australia in Ranchi as the best innings, with Pujara's 92 in the second innings in Bengaluru coming a close second. For our panel, though, Steven Smith's 109 on a turning pitch in Pune was the best knock. Pujara's 92 got two votes, while Virat Kohli's innings of 235 in Mumbai and 81 in Visakhapatnam, both against England, got a vote each.
Another Australia player won the panel's vote for best bowling of the season - Nathan Lyon, for his 8 for 50 in the first innings in Bengaluru. Lyon's performance got just 13% of the 19,500-plus votes in the reader poll. That was won by Jadeja's 7 for 48 against England in Chennai.