India in Australia 2007-08 March 5, 2008

Passing the toughest test

Cricinfo looks at six Indian players touring Australia for the first time, who came through with their reputations enhanced

Few teams come through a full tour of Australia with their heads held high. India managed despite several of their players touring Australia for the first time. We look at six first-timers who came through with their reputations enhanced

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir topped the batting averages in the ODIs © AFP

Mahendra Singh Dhoni: 141 runs and 10 catches in four Tests, 347 runs and 19 catches in 10 ODIs

The poise with which he overcame tense phases might have made him look like a veteran - Mahendra Singh Dhoni, on his first trip to Australia, weathered several storms. Australia didn't get to see the swashbuckling Dhoni but would have no doubt appreciated the tact with which he sussed up situations. It was as a captain, though, that he shone the brightest, placing faith in tyros and appearing unflustered when games threatened to be slipping away.

Gautam Gambhir: 440 runs in 10 ODIs

In eight months Gautam Gambhir has gone from a Test prospect to a Twenty20 expert to an ODI-innings builder. There was a time when he fought for a one-day berth on the basis of his Test exploits; now, with 440 runs in ten games, he's doing the reverse. After a long stint as a fringe player, he's now part of the nucleus.

Ishant Sharma: Six wickets in three Tests, 14 wickets in nine ODIs

Visiting fast bowlers usually return from Australia shattered but Ishant grew with every spell. From the fiery baptism on the opening day of the Sydney Test, when he came in as the last-minute replacement for Zaheer Khan, he emerged as the find of the tour. He came with pace, bounce and seam but most importantly he knew the length for every surface.

RP Singh: 12 wickets in four Tests

He might not have played a part in the one-day win but RP Singh had a vital role in the Tests, especially after Zaheer Khan injured his heel in Sydney. After an indifferent time in Melbourne, RP led the attack manfully, toppling the Australian top-order in Sydney before mopping up the lower order in Perth. It was under his guidance that Ishant and Irfan Pathan grew in confidence.

Rohit Sharma: 235 runs in 10 ODIs

So poor was his domestic form that Rohit was lucky to even make the squad. Once in, though, he slipped in comfortably into the No. 4 slot, holding the innings together and shifting gears seamlessly. His unbeaten 70 pulled India out of a spot in Canberra before a crackling 66 helped Sachin Tendulkar in the Sydney chase. His water-tight technique complemented the flamboyant stroke-players who followed.

Praveen Kumar: 10 wickets in four ODIs

From Meerut emerged a touching tale. It wasn't long ago that Praveen Kumar was considering throwing in the towel and joining the unofficial Indian Cricket League. In three games he's captured the imagination. He's done it with swing and nippy pace; he's also done it with a stoic countenance and country-boy innocence. Remember his dead-pan reaction when he dismissed Ricky Ponting in the first final? Remember him slinking away in a hurry after receiving the Man-of-the-Match award in the final?

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo