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India's marks out of ten, for the Test series against Australia
March 25, 2013
M S Dhoni (326 runs at 81.50)
Produced the innings that snatched the first Test and with it, maybe Australia's belief away from the series. His captaincy re-energised, Dhoni led a flock of rookies with a firm, confident hand and chose a new animated, responsive tack in his captaincy style. His hold on the captaincy is restored and by responding to the 1-2 series defeat against England with an emphatic 4-0, makes him a hard man to beat.
M Vijay (430 runs at 61.42)
The opener who came in from the cold, turning his two successive failures in Chennai into a platform from where he launched the rescue of his India career. The only man to hit two centuries in the series, and the top scorer on either side with 430 runs, Vijay discovered another gear in his game that was between neutral and turbo. A central figure in two massive partnerships - 370 with Cheteshwar Pujara in Hyderabad and 289 with Dhawan in Mohali - gave India footholds in both matches.
Cheteshwar Pujara (419 runs at 83.80)
An assured No.3 who opened on the worst wicket in the series and produced two half-centuries. He was second-highest run-getter, a mere 11 runs behind Murali Vijay with a century and two fifties, and was involved in three of India's six century partnerships. Pujara's consistency across the series and runs scored at a brisk strike-rate morphed into a stunningly effortless 82 not on the Kotla beastie in the chase.
Shikhar Dhawan (187 runs)
Destiny gave Dhawan one chance in the series and he made it memorable. He stepped in as the replacement opener for Virender Sehwag in Mohali and produced the fastest century on a Test debut across history. It was an innings that was weightless in its composure and clear-sighted in its execution and it destroyed all Australian hopes of recovery. An injury put Dhawan out of a home Test but when he did turn up, he played his part and got the world to its feet.
Ravindra Jadeja (25 wickets at 17.45, 85 runs at 21.25)
India's trump card in the series, who had been fitted in as the fifth bowler and the third spinner but soon became an incisive threat. Jadeja's bowling - disciplined, tight stump-to-stump, consistently on line - suited the conditions and the wickets. He took five wickets in an innings only once but was India's second highest wicket-taker with 24 wickets, with a better average, economy rate and strike rate than the rest. His baffling hold on Australia's best batsman Michael Clarke was the stuff of mass amusement and his batting came into its own in his last two innings.
R Ashwin (29 wickets at 20.10)
Man of the series, with 29 wickets, now firmly established as India's premier spinner. Ashwin shook off the blues of England and returned to bowl with the new ball, the old ball, the deteriorating ball. His ability to put his much-celebrated tricks on the back seat to the fundamentals of the trade helped him become the frontline bowler India needed in the series. His scores with the bat - 3, 1, 4, 12, at crucial points in a truncated batting line-up though - nip half a point off his score.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (6 wickets at 39.83)
Like Dhawan, a debutant in the series, Bhuvneshwar did what was asked of him - to bowl incisively with the new ball. He bowled 64 overs across eight innings, largely with the new ball and his three-wicket burst in Mohali cracked open the Australian second innings, yet again and set up the win. He was a more than capable No. 9, scoring 38, 10, 18, 14* and was involved in a ninth-wicket century partnership with MS Dhoni during the Chennai whirlwind. A cricketer of greater capabilities whose true quality must be extended overseas.
Virat Kohli (284 runs at 56.80)
The series should have been Kohli's breakout given the conditions in which he was playing and the opposition he had to tackle. Kohli began with a century in Chennai but couldn't cash in the rest of the games. What he did do was he became a support act in several key partnerships along the way, in two century stands and three fifty-plus partnerships.
Pragyan Ojha (7 wickets at 34.00)
The most successful bowler in the series against England, sat out two Tests but returned in Mohali, came in as the third spinner after the success of his rival Jadeja. Ashwin and Jadeja picked up 53 of the 80 Australian wickets in the series and Ojha was relegated to being a bit-part player. He bowled far fewer overs and lacked the confidence in home conditions that have given him 100 Test wickets.
Sachin Tendulkar (192 runs at 32.00)
In his first innings of the series, Tendulkar came with India at 12 for 2. His 81 in Chennai settled India's nerves opening the door for Dhoni's assault. After that though, Tendulkar didn't cross 40, with scores of 13 not out, 7, 37, 21, 32 and 1. His role with the bat in India's march to 4-0 was very limited: in Chennai and a first innings 32 on a devilish Kotla track. Of all the batsmen who played in all four Tests, Tendulkar's was the lowest aggregate total in the top six.
Ishant Sharma (7 wickets at 37.85)
Given more overs with the ball than his seam partner Bhuvneshwar, Ishant took one more wicket and played a bit parts. He had a burst in Mohali with the reversing old ball in Australia's first innings, but was not partnership-breaker as planned. Australia's lower-order got away with far too much. Rather than be a wicket-taker and tail-end destroyer like Zaheer Khan, when called, Ishant merely held one end up.
Ajinkya Rahane (8 runs at 4.00)
Finally got out of the Indian dressing-room and onto the batting crease after 12 months of substitute duty. To make a debut on the worst batting wicket of the series, is to be handed the rough end of the stick. Two poor dismissals in Delhi gave Rahane a debut that belongs to nightmares, not memories.
Harbhajan Singh (5 wickets at 40.80)
Brought into the side to be the nuisance factor, Harbhajan played the first two games, but was clearly Dhoni's second choice offspinner. In his 100th Test, Harbhajan was tight, tense and once Ashwin tore away from him in the wickets column, there were to be few comebacks. Far too many short spells and a lack of consistency in line became the hurdles Harbhajan couldn't vault over and he was dropped after two Tests.
Virender Sehwag (27 runs at 9.00)
Switched to wearing glasses for the series and had an awkward first innings, playing on to a charged-up Pattinson bowling at top pace in his opening spell. Rather than go on the attack, Sehwag did try to settle in, but in his next two innings, had scores of 2 and 6, and was out defending to Nathan Lyon and nicking to the keeper off Peter Siddle. It gave the selectors no options. Despite India going up 2-0, Sehwag was left out for Mohali and the team trimmed from 15 to 14.
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