South Africa's 2019 took a massive u-turn in the Boxing Day Test after they thumped England by 107 runs to go 1-0 up in the series. The Proteas had gone into the Test match after losing five consecutive Test matches, but they had a ragged, tired England facing them.
Spurred by middle-order grit and polished bowling performance, South Africa sure ended the game on a high, but England's 2019 ended just as it had begun - extraordinary in ODIs and limited in Test cricket. The action shifts to New Year's Test on January 2 with England looking to salvage pride.
Watch out for:
Joe Root - The England captain staved off illness to defy the Proteas in the second innings at Centurion for a while, but it did not last and England will be worried by yet another start that went nowhere from the skipper. The inability to consistently convert the 50s to 100s is a problem for Joe Root and his new year resolution should perhaps be to make those daddy tons.
Australia all the way
New Zealand have become a force in Test cricket of late but they have already lost the first series since early 2017 in their neighbouring country and there seem to be no leeway for redemption against a strong Aussie side that has won each of their last six home Test matches.
At Melbourne in the second Test of the series, New Zealand were once again bullied by an Aussie side that increasingly looks well and truly back after their miseries in 2018. The third Test of the series at Sydney promises more action of a similar kind unless New Zealand can find ways to turn tables quickly.
Watch out for:
Neil Wagner - The left-arm seamer, Neil Wagner, was in red hot form at Perth and Melbourne and has dismissed Steven Smith four times in four innings with the two at MCG coming off bouncers despite Smith working against the same in the nets. Now, that's rare, but that's what Wagner does. His strike rate in Tests is the second-best for fast bowlers from New Zealand with Sir Richard Hadlee being first.
India - Sri Lanka
No, not again, but yes, yes again. India and Sri Lanka are back in action in another bilateral series. The three T20Is will mark the beginning of the shortest format games in the build-up to the T20 World Cup. For India, at least, preparations cannot have a more relaxed start than against the Lankans. Since the 2016 World T20, India and Sri Lanka have met six times with India winning five of those matches. Unlikely that record will change in early 2020 but Sri Lanka are on the back of whitewashing Pakistan in Pakistan, so who knows.
Watch out for:
KL Rahul - The Karnataka opener displaced Shikhar Dhawan from the T20I side last series, or so we thought. Rohit Sharma will take a break this series with Rahul and Dhawan in a proposed one-on-one showdown. Rahul has 356 runs in 9 T20Is in 2019 at an average of 44.5. Meanwhile, Shikhar Dhawan averages 22.6 in 2019. Rahul's last four T20I innings are 52, 62, 11 and 91. That takes some beating.
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Feature image courtesy: AFP / Marco Longari