New Delhi:Swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag is the front-runner for Castrol Indian Cricketer of the Year 2008 award following his consistent performance last year.
Sehwag, who has 59 points against his name, would have to stave off challenge from Gautam Gambhir (52), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (48), Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma to lay his hand on the award.
Sehwag had a phenomenal year in Test cricket with a triple hundred against South Africa and a double hundred against Sri Lanka, along with some blazing starts at the top of the order in one-day cricket.
Carrying on with his splendid form against the Australians in the Test series, Sehwag also came good in the one-day series against England.
His splendid year ended in a fitting finale during the first India-England Test in Chennai, where he scored a blistering 83 on the fourth evening, which tilted the scales in India's favour.
Sehwag's Delhi team-mate Gambhir, however, remains hot on his heels, having shone with the bat in the ODI series against England besides scoring a gritty century in the second Test against England in Mohali.
Dhoni too remains in the fray after a magical season with his Test captaincy yielding four wins in five matches. Harbhajan and Ishant have also enhanced their reputations and are in the hunt for the award.
All Indian cricketers who have played international cricket will now be invited to vote for their choice of the Castrol Indian Cricketer of the Year from among the top five.