India vs Australia Review - Indian ratings

India took the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with their first ever series win in Australia, prevailing 2-1. I said in the preview that the series will come down to the Australian batsmen’s ability to handle the Indian bowlers and I expressed doubts over bowlers like Shami, but the Indians were absolutely ruthless with the ball, and their attack keeps on getting better. The much vaunted South African attack have struggled in Asia in their las couple of visits, so I genuinely think we saw the best 2 pace attacks in the world on show in this series. Australia have been weak before, with the Packer and World Series Cricket years, but even their bench strength was always enough for Asian touring teams. The fact that this Australian side (with some questionable selections) was exposed ruthlessly by the Indians (who essentially won 3-1 if 5 days were played at Sydney) means questions must be asked through all levels of Australian cricket, especially as this Indian side (although the best in the world right now) is not the best Indian side to have toured Australia.

Indian ratings

KL Rahul - Rahul’s mismanagement is not well documented, but the fact of the matter is he has been on low confidence for some time now. All of those ODI series where he was tagged along as the reserve batsman should have been time where he was in Karnataka, playing for his state and regaining his touch. KL Rahul had a fantastic start to his test career, but IPL batting has impacted his test batting and now he has to restart his first class career, and playing test cricket in Australia is not the place to do that. Rahul got out playing some awful shots, not least in the 2nd innings in Adelaide, when he got settled (44) and got out trying to hit Cummins for 6 over cover, in a test match. Eventually dropped, I am sure a player of his calibre will find his way back to the test team (even with the Shaw-Agarwal pairing being tipped for the future - but there was a reason Rahul was picked before his state team-mate) but it has to happen after success for Karnataka and possibly India A. - 3/10

Murali Vijay - Vijay’s series was also disastrous, and his test career appears to be over. Vijay is simply not seeing the ball as well as he did in India’s last overseas tour cycle. He got out playing some strange shots and very un-Vijay like shots, continuing the trend from earlier England and South African tours. - 3/10

Cheteshwar Pujara - Wow. Kohli was incredible in England in a losing cause but Pujara’s 2 man of the match awards and a 2-1 series win means that this series for him was absolutely groundbreaking. With proper, proper test match batting he grounded Australia’s famous ‘big 3’ into the dust, and reaped the rewards with a dominating 193 in Sydney. Hundreds in Adelaide (from a very difficult position) and Melbourne set up famous wins and this is a performance Indian fans will never forget. Man of the Series and three hundreds in India’s first ever series win in Australia. Cheteshwar Pujara, take a bow. All doubters ruthlessly shut off as well, Pujara now averages 51 in test cricket, above Joe Root and 0.3 away from Kane Williamson (two of the ‘big 4’ batsmen in world cricket). - 10/10

Virat Kohli - Kohli’s presence gets him through most series with the bat. Compared to England, it was slightly underwhelming for the world’s best batsman but an excellent 123 in Perth and 82 in Melbourne (he’d be disappointed he didn’t make a hundred) meant it was by no means a quiet series. He was caught down the leg side a couple of times at the end of the series, but still finished as India’s and the series’ 3rd highest scorer behind Pujara and Pant. It is the first overseas series since Kohli became captain that he wasn’t the highest scorer for India, showing what kind of team effort it took to finally topple the Australians in their own backyard. Kohli’s captaincy was excellent as well, aggressive and defensive in equal measure and his bowlers backed him relentlessly with high percentage of dot balls building pressure. To do this in a T20 and even an ODI doesn’t require much effort but the skill and mental and physical effort to do this in a test match shows how good India’s attack was in this series. Kohli will be remembered by history for this series, captain of India’s first ever series win in Australia. One fault for him though, was the selection of Umesh Yadav. It is worrying how, when presented with 3 choices, the right one (Jadeja), an understandable one (Bhuvneshwar), and the wrong one (Umesh) he so confidently went with the wrong one, and it has been happening time and time again. - 8/10

Ajinkya Rahane - An average series for India’s vice captain. 70 in Adelaide and 51 in Perth were Rahane at his fluent best but both innings came to abrupt ends when he looked set for more, and starts of 30 in Perth and 34 in Melbourne were not built on but slowly Rahane seems to be coming back to his best. - 6/10

Rishabh Pant - Everything Pant did in this series was a hit. From his sledging and commentary to his batting, Pant had a brilliant series. His keeping is still a work in progress but his batting ranking is the highest ever for an Indian wicket keeper and he has scored a test hundred in England and Australia, something no other Indian keeper has been able to achieve. He got out trying to hit some audacious shots after getting starts in most innings in the series, but hit a fantastic SCG hundred ; that is what Pant is in the team to do, to take the game away from the opposition in a Gilchrist style role from number 7. - 8/10

Rohit Sharma - Rohit was picked with a view that he would become the backbone of India’s batting in Australia due to his fantastic back foot game. He threw away a start in Adelaide in the first innings and got out in the middle of a fantastic Nathan Lyon spell in the second. Injured for the second test, he played excellently against a tired attack in Melbourne for 63*. Underrated series for Rohit ; it may not be enough for him to keep his spot as Vihari played well and Rohit was a surprise, almost a horses for courses selection. This was one place where he was well suited and he had a good series. - 7/10

Hanuma Vihari - Vihari had a decent series. Most of his dismissals weren’t ‘throwing it away’ as much as they were soft. Vihari looks like a batsman suited to batting for long periods of time. He got a couple of 20s and a couple of soft dismissals in Perth, before being bounced out in 2 innings after applying himself exceedingly well to opening the innings in Melbourne. Playing out 66 balls allowed Pujara and Kohli to get an older ball and the rest of the batting order reaped the rewards of Vihari’s hard work (including Rohit and Pant). It was in Sydney that we saw Vihari adapting to test cricket properly, where he looked like a proper, proper batsman, driving spin and pace alike and even dominating the Australian pacers at times. Lots of potential. - 7/10

Mayank Agarwal - Asked to come in and replace his state teammate, Agarwal had a very bright start to his career with 76 in Melbourne on debut and 77 in Sydney, although he will be disappointed not to be going home with a maiden test century. He got almost half of India’s runs in the 2nd innings and looked suited to Australian conditions, although I daresay when he gets to New Zealand, England and South Africa his tendency to jab at the ball outside off may catch up with him. In this series however, he didn’t do anything wrong, even fielding very well at short leg, and it looks like for the foreseeable future India’s test match opening partnership will be Prithvi Shaw-Mayank Agarwal, at least until KL Rahul hits form again. - 9/10

Ravi Ashwin - Ashwin played just the one test but that in itself is a huge worry. Whenever India are at home, Ashwin plays all of the matches without any hint of injury, bowling lots of overs in the process but the last 2 tours of England and Australia, he has started very well and then become injured. Ashwin has done enough this year to show he is an improved bowler, bowling very well when at full fitness, but it is concerning that his full fitness is only here for the one test per series. 6 wickets in Adelaide however, was a very good outing, especially as his economy was under 2. - 7/10

Ravi Jadeja - Jadeja did what Jadeja does in this series : bowl economically and pick up wickets. 7 wickets in 2 tests doesn’t sound too impressive, but Jadeja’s ability to hold up one end and bowl at an economy rate of 2.24 is something all sides look for in their spinner. 81 in Sydney reminded everyone of his all round credentials, and while Ashwin is still the lead spinner, India are in the unique position where they have 2 world class spinners who are both more than capable of leading the bowling attack, and with Kuldeep Yadav coming through, Indian spin bowling in test cricket is in a good place. - 7/10

Kuldeep Yadav - After the disaster at Lords, he was back to his best in Sydney, taking 5-99. Australians have traditionally been terrible at playing left arm wrist spin (Lakshan Sandakan anyone?) so it will take a few more test matches in unhelpful conditions to gauge Kuldeep’s improvements as a test bowler but he remains a bowler who has the potential to be in the scene across formats for a long time for India, and I believe test cricket can be his strongest format in a few years’ time. - 8/10

Jasprit Bumrah - Incredible. Jasprit Bumrah finished as the joint highest wicket taker of the series, with 21 wickets at an average of 19. Bumrah gave the Australian batsmen absolutely nothing to hit in the whole series, bowling at an economy rate of 2.27 across the 4 tests. With his ability to also bowl magic balls to take wickets, he is looking like the complete fast bowler. Bumrah’s highlight was his 6-33 in Melbourne as he blew the Australians away after the batsmen had set a commanding total. 5-fors in South Africa, England and Australia in his first year of test cricket, as well as an already impressive ODI and T20 record, Bumrah looks to be the best bowler in the world at this point, showing a remarkable rise for a remarkable and very clever bowler. - 10/10

Mohammed Shami - 6 wickets in Perth in ultimately a losing cause, Shami ended the series with 16 wickets, only bettered by Jasprit Bumrah and Nathan Lyon. I expressed doubt over Shami before the series, but he was up to the challenge, bowling very few bad balls and getting reverse swing throughout the series. Uneven pitches in Melbourne and Sydney suited his full and straight policy very well, and Shami has shown that he is now an outstanding test bowler in all conditions for India. These weren’t especially helpful conditions for Shami and he was fantastic. - 8/10

Ishant Sharma - Someone, somewhere in the NCA in Bangalore or in the coaching staff in Indian cricket (Bharat Arun perhaps) is doing something very right. How these Indian pacers seem to keep on improving is a mystery to me, even Ishant Sharma, who, at the age he is should be set in his ways but instead produced another probing series where he always made the batsmen play and asked questions. He wasn’t rewarded with a big 5 wicket hall like Bumrah or Shami but played the supporting role excellently through the series, ending with 11 wickets in 3 tests at an average of 23. - 8/10

Umesh Yadav - Umesh is the only Indian seamer now who has not had a breakthrough performance in the 3 away tours of South Africa, England and Australia. Bhuvneshwar was fantastic in South Africa but Umesh is simply too wayward now. The rationale behind his selection in Perth was that he, using his shoulder more than most, should be able to extract the pace and bounce of the Perth pitch but considering India already had Bumrah for that, a spinner or Bhuvneshwar really should have played. Umesh was expensive and offered too many bad balls to an Australian lineup low on confidence and outside India, he has shown he is too much of a risk to pick. Umesh at his best is irresistible, for example in the IPL he swung the ball both ways and looked as if he would blow England away in the summer, but disappointing tours to both England and Australia have ended up lowering his stocks with the white ball and now presumably with the red ball too. Simply too inconsistent - 2/10


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