Ravindra Jadeja and Steven Smith were one of the top-rated player as per our CricketCountry professors © AFP & IANS
Ravindra Jadeja and Steven Smith were one of the top-rated player as per our CricketCountry professors © AFP & IANS

India won the first session of the 3rd Test at Ranchi. Australia came back strong to dominate the first two days before India doing the same in the next two to get into a winning position before a spectacular batting effort saved the tourists’ from blushes. The batting paradise ensured a rare result in today’s Test cricket — a draw. There were flares and glares as expected but quality cricket took the front seat. Suvajit Mustafi and Devarchit Varma don the professor’s hat and evaluate India and Australia’s performance respectively in the Ranchi Test.

Suvajit starts with the hosts India.

KL Rahul (7/10): Rahul has been India’s most consistent batsman in this series. Responding to Australia’s 451 Rahul began on a positive note. While Vijay remained patient at one end Rahul cashed-in on his rich form and it was only a snorter from Pat Cummins that halted the breezy innings at 67. He gets 0.5 of his marks deducted from the horrendous overthrow in the second innings that led his captain spell out expletives.

Murali Vijay (7.5/10): They call him a ‘monk’ for a reason. As usual, he displayed his monk-like patience and made his 50th Test appearance special. It is a known fact that he loves batting against Australia. With this 82, he ensured his batting average against Australia has moved over 57. His partnership with Rahul, and then Cheteshwar Pujara laid a solid foundation for India. He was all set for a three-figure when a lapse of concentration saw him throw his wicket away at the stroke of lunch on Day 3. Yes, he was stumped while trying to hit a six! So were we.

Cheteshwar Pujara (9.5/10): Just like an English teacher I will say perfection cannot be achieved. It was a near-perfect effort from India’s No.3. Commentators called the effort, “Meditating with the bat”. This cannot be denied though. Pujara en route 202, his third double ton, played as many as 525 deliveries. He became the first ever Indian to consume over 500 deliveries in a Test and ensured that the side would not lose the match. It was a disciplined effort and he succeeded in wearing out the opposition. His 199-run stand for the seventh wicket with Wriddhiman Saha was the turning point of the Test.

Virat Kohli (3/10): More than the bat, Kohli’s shoulder made more news. He got injured on Day One and spent close to six sessions out of the ground. When he batted, he was mocked by Glenn Maxwell and the non-cricketing drama continued. He only scored 6, which means he now has 46 runs in this series at 9.2.

However, when Kohli was not around in the field, one missed him. Team India lacked the Kohli spirit and the energy level was certainly missing. Maybe, it is him who injects the dose of personality to the team. He continued with his chatters and banters but it is time his bat does all the talking now.

Ajinkya Rahane (2.5/10): As an experienced campaigner, a lot more is expected of a senior player like Rahane. His consistency has dipped. His captaincy in Kohli’s absence was not impressive enough. Though he earned Matthew Wade’s wicket with smartness, there were many mistakes made as well. His dismissal at that juncture of the game was unacceptable. An upper cut to get out when India were trying to not lose the Test?

Karun Nair (3.5/10): He took a sharp catch off Ravindra Jadeja’s bowling in the first innings. He was done by a brilliant delivery from Josh Hazlewood. Before that we saw a glimpse of that triple ton in Chennai with the reverse sweep coming off well. However, playing as a specialist batsman, he needs to be doing much than 23. If it is seamer-friendly in Dharamsala and if India employ a five-bowler approach then the axe will fall upon Nair.

Ravichandran Ashwin (3/10): It was not that he did not try. But his trying was not good enough. Ashwin had another disappointing game. His match-figures of 2 for 185 and 3 runs with the bat did not help the side. After Rahul, Ashwin received another snorter from Cummins that saw him walk back. Ashwin’s dismal efforts with ball will now see him lose his No.1 Test bowling ranking to Jadeja. With little more support from Ashwin, Jadeja could have scripted another Indian win. Ashwin was not getting enough pace off the surface but all champions have off days.

Wriddhiman Saha (9/10): India were still trailing by 123 runs when Saha walked out to bat at No.8. While he will be remembered for his supporting role to Pujara, Saha was the aggressor. He ensured the scoreboard kept ticking and played some gorgeous strokes. His third Test hundred shows why he is a perfect fit to MS Dhoni’s shoes. Adding to his batting skills, his wicketkeeping was top notch.

Ravindra Jadeja (9.5/10): It is a pity that Jadeja did not walk back with the Man of the Match trophy. His Saurashtra mate Pujara had the honours for the same. Jadeja almost bowled India to a win with match figures of 93.3-26-178-9. His 55-ball 54 not out on Day Four helped India to gain a crucial 152-run lead.

In a batting paradise, where there was little help for the bowlers Jadeja ended with 36 percent of match wickets.

Umesh Yadav (5.5/10): He bowled with a lot of heart, especially in the first innings. He showed application with the bat too. With little more support from the other end, Umesh could have yielded better results.

Ishant Sharma (2/10): It is not that Ishant was poor with his bowling but you expect a lot more from a bowler who has now played a Test more than Brett Lee. Ishant bowled a good over in the final day’s play that saw him dismiss Matt Renshaw. His next memorable feat came in the final session, when he got into a slipping and tumbling spree that provided entertainment to his captain, viewers and Twitterati.

He gets all those marks for the occasional efforts in the 31 overs that he bowled. No, I am not being unkind. He bowled five no balls in a Test where no one else bowled one.

Now coming to Australia, here is Devarchit to take you through:

David Warner (3/10): He may have struggled against Ashwin in the past, but Warner fell to Jadeja in both the innings. In the first essay, under good batting conditions, Warner threw away his wicket when he played one straight to Jadeja. Australia needed their ace batsman to fire in the second innings and demolish India’s advantage, but his wicket after a promising start proved to be a spoiler. Warner has got starts on most of the occasions in this Test, but he has failed to convert them. The dearth of overseas hundreds has persisted as he has not scored an one since October 2014, which is certainly hurting Australia.

Matt Renshaw (6/10): After making an impressive start in the Test series, Renshaw has lacked both: big scores as well as the stoic determination to bat for long with application and confidence. He was guilty of suffering a soft dismissal in the first innings, edging one behind to the slips in the first innings, when Renshaw could have scored a lot of runs. In the second innings, he fell to a common trap by a fast bowler, failing to read a fuller delivery amid a barrage of short ones. However, he did score a 69-ball 44 in the first innings initiating a rapid start, and batted well on fifth day while India continued to come hard at Australia. Renshaw scored an 84-ball 15 in the second innings.

Steven Smith (8/10): With his sixth Test century and an overall total of 19 against India alone, Smith continued to prove why he is the best in the conventional format. Smith realised the opportunity of scoring big in the first innings, and made full use of it by scoring a resolute 361-ball 178 not out. He added 191 runs for the fifth wicket with Maxwell that pushed Australia to a competitive total of 451.

As a captain, Smith could do a very little when Pujara churned out a fabulous 202 and added 199 runs with Saha. Smith’s side registered an unwanted record of bowling most overs against India in a Test innings — 210 — but the captain deserves the credit for not using part-timers in search of wickets when his fast bowlers failed. Australia managed to keep the Indians quiet for most of the times by cutting down a lot of singles. Smith’s use of DRS was ordinary, as Australia made the wrong calls in each innings.

Shaun Marsh (7/10): In the second essay when Australia needed a resilient fight from their batsmen, Marsh used all his experience and expertise to bat out for close to two sessions and help his team earn a draw. He had failed bat-pad for cheap in the first innings, but Marsh more than made up for that failure batting for 62.2 overs on the final day, scoring a 197-ball 53.

Marsh deserves extra marks for his application against Jadeja, who tried relentlessly to turn the ball sharply into the left-handers by hitting the ball in the rough patches.

Peter Handscomb (7/10): He put an end to an ordinary series so far with his best innings till date, consuming 200 balls on a fifth-day wicket in Ranchi against world’s best spinners to help Australia earn respect. Handscomb was due for a big score and Australia would be pleased with their young batsman taking giant strides on a tough Indian tour.

On Day Five, Handscomb played with a lot of dexterity, and the foot movement especially against Ashwin was top class. This innings will certainly give Handscomb a huge boost going ahead.

Glenn Maxwell (7.5/10): Not many had backed Maxwell’s Test credentials in the past, but Maxwell put the debate to rest with a century in the first innings. An explosive batsman by nature who is innovative in his stroke-play, Maxwell brought out a ton studded with application, strong defense and match-awareness. He was under-bowled in the Ranchi Test, but Maxwell has not been among Australia’s bowling plans anyway.

Matthew Wade (5/10): While his glovework remained ordinary as he spilled two catches in the first session on Day Four which provided a lifeline each to Pujara and Saha, he made impressive runs in the first innings. Wade cracked 6 boundaries to score a 50-ball 37, which was a crucial contribution in Australia’s total.

Pat Cummins (8/10): Returning to the rigours of Test cricket, Cummins stood out among all fast bowlers in the Ranchi Test with splendid display of fast bowling. On a batting paradise where bowlers were punished on five days, Cummins did not shy away from bending his back and eking out 3 out of his 4 wickets on short deliveries. His variation of pace and lengths showed he is a thinking cricketer, and his returns did not make Australia feel the pinch of Mitchell Starc’s absence.

Steve O’Keefe (5/10): Had he bowled another 3 overs in India’s only innings, O’Keefe would have become eligible for a new ball only for himself. But the 32-year-old spinner showed a lot of heart, bowling relentlessly on same lines and managing 17 maidens out of his 77 overs. He was plundered for 199 runs, but O’Keefe also managed 3 wickets which were second best to Cummins’ four-for.

Nathan Lyon (3/10): An agonising wait entailed for Lyon since the first day of the Bengaluru Test — wherein he took 8 wickets — for any further success. And when it came, Lyon could do nothing but smile at his agony as he claimed Pujara’s wicket, after he had batted for 525 balls and close to 11 hours. Lyon could neither generate bounce or turn, which were his potent weapons in the second Test. He bowled 46 overs and was costliest among all Australian bowlers with 163 runs and an economy of 3.54.

Josh Hazlewood (3/10): He showed signs of frustration when India batted brilliantly in their first innings. Hazlewood tried his best by generating reverse swing and some seam movement, but could not bring enough out of him to earn more than one wicket. However, he deserves credit for removing Nair on a terrific delivery, cleaning up the batsman’s off-stump when he had just settled in.