Australia in India 2012-13 March 25, 2013

Dhoni, young brigade energise India

India's marks out of ten, for the Test series against Australia


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.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashok on March 27, 2013, 19:00 GMT

    Many fans are hung up on points out of 10 given by Sharda. The bigger picture is to look beyond just points. India has opening batsmen, middle order batting & much improved bowling now. Not only that they are all taking their responsibility seriously & playing big innings. On a very difficult pitch, Pujara stood there & hammered 82* at a S/R of over 85. How reassuring that looked. From an impossible situation Dhoni hammered a double century aided by bowler B.Kumar in a support role! That is rising to the occasion. Vijay after failing in first Test simply fought back with 2 centuries to nail his spot. Jadeja, so far a part time bowler, rose to the top like cream, by taking 25 wkts. in the series next only to the specialist bowler Ashwin's 29. Ishant & B.Kumar chipped in with wkts. when badly needed. Dhawan in his solo appearance demolished the Aussies! Kohli played his role very well. These are all huge success stories. Forget the marks alloted. India has finally found its Feet- Great!.

  • Bunty on March 27, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    Ok home series over.players like up Pujara and Vijay have beefed up batting averages.Time for them to show their bottle when every ball is chest high.Other than Sachin only Kohli has shown class we will see about them shortly.Pujara in 2011 series was a painful sight against Steyn and Vijay showed tendency to shut his eyes we will see if they are one trick pony or long course horses.

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    It is unfair to dock 0.5 points off Ashwin coz of his batting. His 7 wickets in the first innings of the first test was a game changer and not many realised. Come to think of it that Aus scored 316/7 and Ashwin takes 6 of them. I would give 9 to Ashwin for his bowling in the series

  • rkp on March 26, 2013, 20:47 GMT

    This ranking is a Big joke. How can Clarke and Dhoni gets same 8 points. One has lost 3 tests as a captain whereas the other one won the series 4-0 and contributed with wkt keeping also, effecting some excellent stumping.

    In my opinion,

    Jadeja, Pujara, Vijay and Ashwin should get 9.5 or at least 9.

    Dhoni - 8.5, Kohli - 7, Dhawan - 10

    SRT- 4.5, Bhuvi - 5.5, Ishant & Ohja - 4, Bhaji, Viru - 1.5, Rahane-1 (for fielding only),

  • shravan on March 26, 2013, 20:03 GMT

    virat kohli needs to be more consistent than now to hold his place in the national test team as it has become very tough for the youngsters to get into the team.If he doesn't maintain his consistency the india might have to replace him with rahane. India these days look for people who are consistent in their performances as there were talks to drop ashwin for the first test in chennai after his poor performance in the last series against england. In kotla india could have dropped either ishant or b.kumar and could have brought in harbhajan as the pitch was spinner's paradise right from the first session of the match.operating bhajji and ojha for spell and ashwin and jadeja for another spell would have been more effective. pujara deserves the maximum score of 9/10 and then followed by vijay and ashwin with 8.5/10 as pujara was consistent right from the first test match in chennai.dhoni deserves 8.5/10 for his sensational knock in chennai and for his genius in captaincy.

  • Ashok on March 26, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    While the whole team played as a unit for the first time, 5 guys stood out above all. The opener Vijay confounded all his critics including myself with a remarkable turn around after failing badly in the first test. He appears to have sealed his spot. Pujara once again showed that he is the Mr. Consistently Reliable. Following his 87 batting average Vs. England in 4 Tests, he followed it up with an average of 84 vs. the Aussies. This is a huge boost to finally find a sheet anchor in batting. Dhoni for the first time gave up his defensive plays. His magnificient double century won the First test for India. This was the turning point in his career after 1-11 Test drubbing. The fourth guy who rose to the occasion was Ashwin with his wkt. tally of 29. He is finally showing some consistency. But the biggest surprise of all was jadeja's super showing as a bowler. He will now be the specialist bowler who is an All rounder. He may have displaced Yuvraj in Tests. Hats off to India for 4-0 win.

  • ian on March 26, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    Sharda: your comments are balanced & clear-sighted: I enjoyed reading them. As I went down your list, however, I was wondering if you'd comment on the fielding skills of some of the individual players. There is not a single comment on that aspect of the game, yet the energy, commitment & athleticism that they brought to the side v Oz was an essential component of the 4-0 success. So, with your permission, may I add the following? Fielding marks: 9s for Jadeja & Kohli & Kumar; 8 for Pujara; SRT 3, Ishant 2. The rest are, I think, between the three nines -- & Ishant Sharma! Can I add that it seems that India, under the much-maligned Duncan Fletcher, is at last beginning to look like a modern professional outfit in the field? It has not often been a strength of the Indian Test side, but that is now changing, at long last!

  • A on March 26, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    Sharda - you are being harsh on the Indian team. Performing consistently for 4 continuous tests and dominating the opposition means there should be atleast 2-3 players in that team deserving 9 out of 10, at a minimum. Sachin, Sehwag and Rahane deserve their marks/rankings, but the others should get at least 0.5 - 1.0 added to their tally.

    @gaurav6788 - Bryon gave marks for Aus; Sharda for India.

  • Mark on March 26, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Before the series I posted that I thought that the key battle would be Ravi Ashwin the bowler against the Australian batting. If Australia managed to dominate him as England had, they would win the series. If he dominated them, India would win. In the end, his bowling was, for me, the single bigegst factor. You can score stacks of runs as many of the Indian batsmen did but, unless you can take 20 wickets, it is all for naught and Ravi Ashwin made sure that those 20 wickets were going down and that the efforts of the batsmen were rewarded with something more than a series of draws. Agreed that he didn't score any runs, but his runs were scarcely needed anyway.

  • gaurav on March 26, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    it seems like sharda u have some confusion,,,,u had given clarke 9 marks....nd on the other hand u gave 8 marks to vijay nd pujara nd 7.5 to ashwin??wat a joke...!!wat more u want from vijay and pujara??10 centuries in a series??nd wat frm ashwin 60 wickets in a series??it seems like u have very limited knowledge of test cricket...plz clear your facts,,,,!!it seems like by your MARKS DISTRIBUTION .....dat u didnt like indian performances,,,,nd dis is nt a school exam,,,,dnt expect any player to be damn perfect in a 4 match series......pujara,vijay,ashwin deserves 9.5 ,dhoni ,jadeja 9,,,,kohli nd bhubhneshwar 7...nd sachin 5...!!

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