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March 29, 2005
For India, this was a drawn series that felt like a defeat. The team that had won in Pakistan was expected to roll over their inexperienced opposition, whose prospects were dented by the absence of Shoaib Akhtar and his frightening pace. But Pakistan rarely took a backward step, while too many of India's stars idled in low gear, leaving three or four good men to carry the team. Ultimately, against a side where everyone pulled their weight, it was too much of a burden to bear.
9 Virender Sehwag
Sehwag bats like no-one else in the history of the game - a consummate strokemaker whose superb temperament allows him to block out criticism of his cavalier methods. Pakistan were on the receiving end in Multan last year and 12 months later nothing had changed with two glorious knocks at Mohali and Bangalore. The fact that India gave up any pretence of going for the final-day target once Sehwag was run out in Bangalore said much about how he has become the prime mover of this team.
8 Rahul Dravid
Was simply sublime in the Kolkata Test, having started the series with a scratchy half-century at Mohali. However, his travails on home turf continued unabated, and failure to save the Bangalore Test would have cut deep for a man who prides himself on delivering on the biggest stages. His slip fielding was also below par.
8 Lakshmipathy Balaji
Sensationally eclipsed the new-ball pairing at Mohali where he swung the ball and moved it cleverly off the seam. A few bright spells followed at Kolkata and Bangalore, despite neither surface having anything to excite a pace bowler. What impressed most was his unstinting effort, and the beaming smile with which he bowled and batted.
7.5 Anil Kumble
Immense at Kolkata, but disappointing on the final day in Mohali. He had a nightmare on his home ground, and that contributed in no small measure to India's eventual capitulation. Showed glimpses of the batsman that he once was with some resolute batting.
7 Sachin Tendulkar
Granted a life by Rudi Koertzen, Tendulkar eased his way to within six runs of that elusive 35th century at Mohali, but his finest effort of the series was undoubtedly the brilliant second-innings 52 at Eden Gardens, cut short by another poor umpiring decision. Worryingly, he tended to get out to some very ordinary shots, and failure to defy Pakistan on the final day of the series would have hurt as much as the abysmal collapse that followed in the wake of his dismissal at Chennai six years ago.
6 Gautam Gambhir
Sometimes seemed puzzled about his role in the side. When he was content to buttress Sehwag's brilliance, Gambhir looked the part, but when he tried to match him stroke for stroke, he only gave it away. At least he plays his shots with refreshing freedom, allowing Sehwag the occasional breather.
6 Dinesh Karthik
Played one magnificent innings with the bat at Kolkata, batting with a complete lack of selfishness in a critical situation. Was fairly competent behind the stumps, though he suffered in comparison with the immaculate Kamran Akmal.
5.5 Harbhajan Singh
Disappointed at Eden Gardens, a venue that he normally bestrides like a colossus, and then got into trouble with the match officials too. Redemption came on the second day at Bangalore, but by then, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Younis Khan had done irreparable damage.
5 VVS Laxman
Far below his best, as he has been for a while now. Two half-centuries revealed little of the flair or fluency that, when on song, make him a vision like no other. His tactics while batting with the tail in the first innings at Bangalore were perplexing.
3 Irfan Pathan
By and large, a series to forget. Short on pace, lacking the line and length that made him so potent in Pakistan last year, Pathan was lucky to play all three Tests. A couple of decent spells can obscure the fact that he was a massive letdown as the team spearhead.
3 Zaheer Khan
Started the series with a couple of superb spells that went unrewarded, and then retrogressed until he was bowling absolute dross on the final day at Mohali, when Abdul Razzaq and Akmal defied India. Wasn't given a chance to redeem himself.
2 Sourav Ganguly
Offered nothing with the bat, and did his reputation as captain no favours with an insipid show on the final day at Mohali. There is a real fear that his lack of form could be affecting those that precede him in the batting order.
Dileep Premachandran is assistant editor of Cricinfo.
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