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Sunday, January 11, 2015

report card of indian team

A look back at India's Test series in Australia, and marks to each of the players.

Virat Kohli - 9/10

A match as India's stand-in captain and another after becoming full-time captain didn't stop Virat Kohli from leaving an indelible mark on the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. With four centuries and a fifty, Kohli matched Steven Smith, the highest run-getter in the series, stroke for stroke and was India's beacon of hope in all four Test matches. Couldn't take India over the line at Adelaide and fell at the wrong times during many of his masterful innings. His captaincy was tested with an inexperienced and wayward bowling attack.

Murali Vijay - 8/10

With a second overseas series fetching him more than 400 runs, the opener will return to India after the Test series as the team's most improved batsman. Not typically aggressive, Vijay left the ball with a clear mind and played the rest of the deliveries with full control and caution. Dropped anchor when needed and scored heavily against spinners. One century, a 99 and three other half-centuries meant Vijay was an important piece in India's resistance in the top order.

Ajinkya Rahane - 7.5/10

Rahane slipped under the radar in South Africa, New Zealand and England, but in Australia he showed his worth with 399 runs from four Tests. Barring soft dismissals, Rahane was in control in all his innings, and seldom looked troubled against spin or pace. While his 38* ensured a draw in the final Test, his 147 at Melbourne took Australia by surprise for the pace and the ease with which he scored his runs. Will form an important part of India's middle order in the years to come along with Kohli.

R Ashwin - 6/10

By far India's best bowler in the Test series and the only one who looked like taking a wicket, albeit with an average of over 48. His second-innings 50 at Sydney gave India vital lower-order runs and he returned to take four wickets in the Australian second innings, after missing the opening Test. However, his effectiveness overseas remains a question when pitches don't offer much assistance.

KL Rahul - 5/10

Possibly India's find of the series who may have played his first and last Test had it not been for Kohli showing faith in the 22-year-old Karnataka opener. In Melbourne, Rahul looked to attack without settling in and paid the price in both innings, and his horror run in Tests continued when he dropped a sitter off Rogers in Sydney, but he returned to stroke a patient and important maiden Test century in the company of his captain that led India's charge. Looked comfortable at the crease, a contrast to the sorry figure Shikhar Dhawan cut in the middle.

Ishant Sharma - 5.5/10

Despite unimpressive returns, Ishant looked India's best medium-pacer in the series with nine wickets. He missed the final Test due to injury, and it was only him who provided the team with a few quiet overs against a rampaging Australian batting line-up. Has a long way to go to take on the spearhead's mantle even after 61 Tests.

Mohammed Shami - 5/10

India's leading wicket-taker in the series and the only Indian to take five wickets in an innings in four Test matches. And yet, Shami's bowling neither inspired confidence nor threatened Australia. After a fine spell in the last session on the opening day, Shami tapered off and was dropped in Brisbane, but returned in Melbourne only to bowl erratically. His inability to bowl a consistent line saw him going for plenty.

Cheteshwar Pujara - 4.5/10

Despite starting well like in England, Pujara's performances dipped as the series wore on, and found himself dropped for the final Test after being a certainty in the side in all overseas Tests since the turn of last year. Pujara appeared to suffer from lack of confidence and was frequently worked out by Australia's pace bowlers.

Rohit Sharma - 4/10

Lazy elegance or pure lazy - take your pick. Played three Tests, got starts everywhere but threw them away at crucial junctures, leaving India in trouble on more than one occasion. Didn't have an impact as a No 6, nor did he do himself any favours at No 3 in Sydney. His efforts to rile up Mitchell Johnson backfired famously in Brisbane, and was promptly dropped for the next Test in Melbourne. Continues to lack Test match temperament.

Shikhar Dhawan - 4/10

Has wavered since his eye-catching debut in Mohali against the same team in 2013. Continues to be troubled by the moving ball up front or when it rises more than it should. Got a couple of starts that he failed to convert, and returned after injuring himself to top-score in India's second innings in Brisbane, but was dropped after twin failures in Melbourne. His technique remains suspect overseas, and now faces a challenge for his spot from Rahul.

MS Dhoni - 4/10

The biggest casualty of the series. Went into the Tests injured, missed the first Test, returned for the second and third only to retire after the end of the Boxing Day Test. Questionable fitness, poor tactics and zero impact with the bat saw him oversee one of his worst performances as wicketkeeper-batsman.

Wriddhiman Saha - 4/10

The back-up 'keeper finally became the No 1 after Dhoni's retirement, and while he showed decent glovework, Saha was ordinary with the bat. In Adelaide, a wild slog saw him stumped off Nathan Lyon after taking 15 from the over as Australia completed an unlikely victory, but looked solid in Sydney. A couple of missed chances behind the stumps, but will improve with more game time.

Umesh Yadav - 3.5/10

India's weak link was its pace bowling attack and Yadav was at the forefront of it. Only came in after the first Test but leaked runs in all three games and lacked any sort of penetration with an inability to bowl on one side of the stumps. Conceded the most runs by any bowler to have bowled three overs in a Test match with 45 runs in the second innings at Sydney, a sharp contrast to Josh Hazlewood, who in his third Test match, gave his first run off the 29th ball of his spell in the second innings in the same match.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar - 3/10

India's best player from England fell from grace in Australia in the only Test he played, a shoo-in for the final Test without full fitness. Lacked pace and the prodigious swing from England was amiss and was played like a club bowler. Provided solidity with the bat, however, in both innings to save the final Test.

Varun Aaron - 3/10

A rudderless jet in two Test matches, Aaron went for plenty in all four innings and gave away runs with alarming regularity. Lacked in control, accuracy and patience and was promptly dropped after Brisbane. Aaron's Test future is uncertain, and was also left out of the World Cup squad as a result. His best delivery was a no-ball.

Karn Sharma - 3/10

A surprise selection in the Test squad was followed by a shock debut at Adelaide, which was a trial by fire against a rampant Australian batting line-up. Took two wickets in each innings but looks a far cry from a bowler ready for Test cricket.

Suresh Raina - 2/10

A comeback after two and a half years ended with a pair at Sydney. Will continue to flourish in ODIs but footwork not cut out for Test cricket, and will continue with the Test team at Ravi Shastri's behest.

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