Ishant Sharma’s bowling is one of the few positives for India © Getty Images
India were clobbered by England for the third time in as many matches — their third defeat was the most comprehensive one. Shiamak Unwalla rates the performances of the Indians through what has been a largely disappointing Test series.
Appalling. Dreadful. Awful. Terrible. Frightful. Atrocious. Disgraceful. Deplorable. Shameful. Woeful. Lamentable. Laughable. Substandard. Poor. Inadequate. Inferior. These are some of the words that could be used to describe India’s performance in the last three Tests on the tour to England. Here are marks out of 10 for the Indians for the Test series:
1. Shikhar Dhawan: 2/10
Apart from being in horrendous form with the bat, Dhawan was also rather pathetic in the slip cordon. With just 122 runs in six innings at an average of 20.33, Dhawan’s technique was exposed in swinging conditions. James Anderson was able to size him up well, and exploited the left-hander’s weakness consistently.
2.Murali Vijay: 6/10
Vijay started the series in glorious fashion with scores of 146, 52, 24 and 95. His knock in the second innings at Lord’s set the stage for Ravindra Jadeja’s heroics at the end. However, after promising a lot, he failed to cross 35 again in the series, as he finished with 402 runs at an average of 40.2 — excellent figures by comparison with the rest of the Indians, but certainly not as much as it could have been.
3. Gautam Gambhir: 1/10
What has happened to Gautam Gambhir? What happened to the fighter who willed himself to score runs? What happened to the scrapper whose eyes were perpetually set in determination? The Gambhir on display in the two Tests was as meek as a mouse in comparison. With 25 runs in four innings at an average of 6.25, Gambhir might just have played his last Test for India.
4. Cheteshwar Pujara: 2/10
Pujara was supposed to be the unshakable rock that held India up in the face of adversity. He was supposed to the backbone of the line-up around whom the more flamboyant batsmen could unleash themselves. However, after looking good in the first couple of games, he completely fell apart in the last three. With a highest score of just 55, Pujara managed only 233 runs at 23.3 — a far cry from his career average of well over 50.
5. Virat Kohli: 1/10
The golden boy of Indian cricket looked a shade of his usual self. Arguably the most in-form batsman across formats in the last three years, Kohli hit that inevitable rough patch. With merely 134 runs at 13.4, Kohli averaged the least out of all the top order batsmen who played more than four innings. He was also guilty of dropping a couple of sitters in the slip cordon to add to his and India’s woes.
6. Ajinkya Rahane: 5/10
Another batsman who started off the series with a lot of promise but later fell away, Rahane looked extremely attractive when he got in. The problem was that he did not get in as much as he should have. He scored 299 runs at 33.22.
7. Rohit Sharma: 2/10
Perhaps one of the most complete batsmen India has seen in the last decade, Rohit is also one of the most irresponsible. He got to play just one match this series — at perhaps the flattest track in Southampton — and got off to a good start in the first innings. Inexplicably, he played a rash shot and was dismissed, thereby starting the batting slide that India never quite recovered from. He managed 34 runs from two innings at an average of 17.
8. MS Dhoni: 6/10
All the marks that MS Dhoni would have got for his gutsy batting are lost due to his poor captaincy. Certain decisions — such as letting Ravindra Jadeja bat ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin twice in a row, making Stuart Binny bowl immediately after Tea in the fifth Test, and giving Pankaj Singh the new ball ahead of Varun Aaron to name a few — might have caused crucial moments in the Test to go the other way. That being said, his fielders — Dhoni included — let down his hardworking bowlers repeatedly, so any outlandish decisions that may have borne fruit did not come to pass. He batted at No 6, but still out-batted his top order twice in two games. He finished with 349 runs at 34.9, thereby making him the second most successful Indian batsman — a comment on how terrible the Indian batting has been.
9. Ravindra Jadeja: 2/10
Jadeja was preferred ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin in the first three Tests. He did score 177 runs at 22.12 — more than Gambhir, Kohli and Rohit — but he failed to pull his weight as an all-rounder. Apart from the crucial fifty in the second innings at Lord’s, Jadeja did not make an impact with the bat. He captured nine wickets in four games; Moeen Ali had twice that and was not even considered a full time bowler before the series began. The catch he dropped at Southampton — Alastair Cook was on 15 then — may well have been where the balance of the entire series shifted for good.
10. Stuart Binny: 4/ 10
Perhaps one of the most unlucky players in series, Binny was denied his maiden Test scalp due to a fluffed chance. He scored a fighting 78 at Trent Bridge, but was dropped after failing to do well at Lord’s. He was brought back for the final Test and top-scored for India in the second innings with an unbeaten 25. He was also grossly under-bowled by Dhoni — though he never quite looked threatening enough to warrant an extended spell.
11. Bhuvneshwar Kumar: 9/10
One of India’s few bright spots in the series. Bhuvneshwar finished with 19 wickets and 247 runs at a batting average of 27.44, which was higher than most of India’s top order. He was India’s most potent weapon with the ball, and with bat in hand showed more of a spine than most of India’s batsmen.
12. Ravichandran Ashwin: 5/10
Ashwin did not bowl much in the first match he played, but took three wickets when given an extended run in his second game. He scored 106 runs at an average of 35.33 too. One of India’s better slip fielders, it was quite surprising not to see him a cordon that was consistently making a fool of itself.
13. Ishant Sharma: 9/10
Along with Bhuvneshwar, Ishant was the second of India’s heroes. He bowled with heart and fire, winning the Lord’s Test for India with a spell that will be talked about for decades. In a series replete with disappointment, Ishant’s showing was a sign that not all is lost. He took 14 wickets in three Tests, and scored a valuable 42-ball seven in India’s first innings at The Oval to help India cross three-figures.
14. Mohammed Shami: 3/10
Shami seemed a far cry from the man who breathed fire and pushed the batsmen onto the back foot a few months ago. He looked tired and jaded as he ran in seemingly without any purpose and sent down the odd freebie in virtually every over. Just five wickets in three games meant that he had to make way for Pankaj Singh and Varun Aaron. He gets bonus point for his unbeaten fifty at Trent Bridge.
15. Varun Aaron: 7/10
That Aaron is fast enough to rattle batsmen is undoubted. Just ask Moeen Ali or Sam Robson. That he is dangerous can be vouched for by Stuart Broad. However, what remains to be seen is whether he is fit enough for the rigours of bowling long spells over the course of an entire series. Whatever little was seen of Aaron was enough to impress; he took five wickets in two innings, but looked threatening almost throughout. He needs to work a bit on his consistency, but his pace is extremely encouraging.
16. Pankaj Singh: 6/ 10
Pankaj endeared himself to anyone who had the pleasure of watching him bat; he was called a “good, old-fashioned No 11 batsman” by the commentators, and provided a few chuckles even amidst India’s abysmal showing. With the ball, he showed heart and the will to bowl long spells. When he finally took a wicket in the fourth Test at Old Trafford — after having to wait for a long, long time — the smile of relief on his face was a sight to see. However, a lack of pace and consistency counts against him. He will be a useful bowler to have in the squad, though it is unlikely he will be a regular for India any time soon.
Please note: Wriddhiman Saha, Ishwar Pandey and Naman Ojha did not play a single game in the series, and therefore cannot be marked.
Catch all the coverage of India’s tour to England here
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)