India vs New Zealand, 2014 Test series: Indian players’ report card
Shikhar Dhawan was India’s leading run-scorer in the two-match Test series against New Zealand © Getty Images
India lost the two-match Test series against New Zealand 1-0. The first Test was lost by a close margin of 40 runs and the second Test was drawn. Brendon McCullum was the outright best player of the series scoring a double century and triple century in the two matches. But India too had their fare share of good performers in the series. Shrikant Shankar analyses all the Indian players’ performances and comes up with their report card for the whole series.
Shikhar Dhawan — 7/10
Shikhar Dhawan ended up as India’s top run-scorer in the series. He was out for a duck in the first innings of the first Test, but scored a patient 115 off 211 deliveries in the second innings. His innings made India come close to a big 407-run target. They fell short by only 40 runs. Dhawan followed that up with a fantastic 98 off 127 deliveries in the first innings of the second Test. He missed out in the second innings by only two runs, but overall he showed he has the mettle to succeed in Test cricket.
Murali Vijay — 2/10
Murali Vijay had a very poor series with the bat and at slips. In two matches, he only managed to score 48 runs. He enhanced his reputation a little with 97 against South Africa at Durban against a superior bowling attack. But in New Zealand, Vijay was off the boil. He dropped an important catch of Kane WIlliamson in the first Test. Williamson went onto score 113. So, overall Vijay had a series to forget.
Cheteshwar Pujara — 3/10
Cheteshwar Pujara is India’s best Test batsman. But in New Zealand, he did not live up to the billing. Like Vijay, Pujara kept getting out quickly. He only managed to score 60 runs from both the Tests combined. He got out twice each to Trent Boult and Tim Southee. This also showed a chink in his technique against good swing bowling.
Virat Kohli — 6.5/10
Virat Kohli came good with an unbeaten 105 off 135 deliveries in the second innings of the second Test in Wellington. He ensured India drew the match. Kohli also scored 67 runs in the second innings of the first Test in Auckland. One common factor was that Kohli threw his wicket away on a couple of occasions rather than getting outfoxed by the New Zealand bowlers. He played the pull and hook shots brilliantly and added another century on foreign soil. His main blemish was that he dropped McCullum at short mid-on on nine in New Zealand’s second innings in the second Test. McCullum went onto score 302. Things could have been a lot different if Kohli would have held onto a relatively simple chance.
Rohit Sharma — 5/10
Rohit Sharma is probably understanding the real quality in Test cricket. He looked supreme in India’s first innings of the first Test by scoring 72 off 120 deliveries. But after that, found it difficult to get going. He remained unbeaten on 31 in the second innings in the second Test, but did not look comfortable while batting.
Ajinkya Rahane scored a fluent maiden century in the second Test against New Zealand © Getty Images
Ajinkya Rahane — 6.5/10
Ajinkya Rahane can be taken as a real plus-point for India in the Test series. He was really unlucky to be given out leg-before the wicket in India’s run-chase in the first Test. But he scored his first century in Test cricket in the first innings in the second Test. He scored a fluent 118 off 158 deliveries to set India a 246-run lead. He too looks like the real deal and his confidence would definitely by on a high.
MS Dhoni — 5.5/10
MS Dhoni had a mixed series. Batting at No 7 or No 8 can never be easy and one is not likely to score many runs in Test cricket. But Dhoni scored a quick-fire 39 in the second innings in Auckland. He got out to a really poor delivery from Neil Wagner. He also scored a breezy 68 in the first innings in Wellington. Some strange decisions as captain is what has lost him some points. He became far too defensive to McCullum early in his innings, before he scored his triple century. Dhoni seemed to react quite a lot to the situations of the match.
Ravindra Jadeja — 3/10
Ravindra Jadeja took Ravichandran Ashwin’s place in India’s Test line-up in South Africa and did well. But in New Zealand, he could not do much with the ball. The pitches were not conducive for spin, but Jadeja could have done better than picking up only three wickets after bowling 89 overs. He too bats lower down the order; so, one cannot really judge his knocks. Jadeja scored 82 runs in three innings. But being in the side as a bowling all-rounder, he did not contribute enough.
Zaheer Khan — 5/10
Zaheer Khan finished the series with a five-wicket haul. He took nine wickets in total and looked low on pace throughout the series. He still swung the ball both ways, but the zip is not there anymore in his bowling. Zaheer did manage to score 53 runs in the series batting at No 10, so, he gets a few more points for that.
Ishant Sharma ended up as the top wicket-taker for India against New Zealand © Getty Images
Ishant Sharma — 8/10
Ishant Sharma finished the series as the leading wicket-taker. This is something not many would have expected, but his 15 wickets were four more than anyone else in the Indian team. The fact that he went wicket-less in the second innings of the second Test, shows that he was really effective in the first three innings of the series. He got two six-wicket hauls in the series. Ishant, though, had a dubious record of getting his best and worst figures in Tests in the same match. He had figures of six for 51 in the first innings of the second Test. He also had figures of none for 164 in the second innings. Despite that, he was India’s best performer in the series.
Mohammed Shami — 5/10
Mohammed Shami bowled really well throughout the series, but only had 10 wickets to show for it. He bowled with pace and swung the ball as well. He was a bit expensive, but that is down to the fact that he bowled a more fuller length in search of wickets.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)