AB de Villiers was by far the best player for South Africa © Getty Images
AB de Villiers was by far the best player for South Africa © Getty Images

South Africa’s 72-day grueling tour of India finally comes to an end with the tourists  winning the One-Day International (ODI) and T20 International (T20I), but losing the four-match Test series comprehensively to their hosts. South Africa’s tour came to an end after they were beaten in the fourth and final Test at Delhi by 377 runs which gave India a 3-0 series win. There were some of bright performances from the Proteas’ side, but it was majorly due to AB de Villiers’ exploits with the bat that South Africa return home with two out of the three trophies that were up for grabs. Faf du Plessis averaged over 80 in the ODIs, but his fortunes fell sharply when the Tests arrived. Pramod Ananth rates South Africa’s performances in the Test series on a scale of 10, in which the world No. 1 team lost an away series after nine long years. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs South Africa 2015 4th Test at Delhi

AB de Villiers (8/10): De Villiers was by a long margin, South Africa’s best player throughout the tour. He was the lone fighter for the South African side which crumbled on almost every occasion in the Test series against the Indians. De Villiers scored a couple of half-centuries in the series. In his 100th Test at Bengaluru, he was looking set to get a big score before he was caught behind, off Ravindra Jadeja for 85. He played his natural game throughout the series, but curbed his instincts of playing his strokes in the final match in Delhi, wherein he scored a 297-ball 43. He was South Africa’s leading run-getter of the series with 258 runs at an average of 36.85.

Kyle Abbott (7/10): Abbott came in as a replacement for Vernon Philander after the latter suffered an injury after the first Test. Abbott did not get to bowl many overs in the Bengaluru Test as it was washed out after a single day’s play. Abbott was, however, terrific in the fourth Delhi Test, where he picked up five wickets in the first innings. He was persistent outside the  off stump and forced the batsmen to make mistakes. He also managed to get the crucial wicket of Virat Kohli in the second innings. Full Cricket Updates: India vs South Africa 2015 4th Test, Day 5 at Delhi

Morne Morkel (6.5/10): The pitches for all four Tests were rank-turners and for South Africa it was not their spinners, who impressed the most, but it was their pacers. Morkel was not picked for the first Test, but injuries to Philander and Dale Steyn got him in the side from the second Test onwards. He was highly impressive, especially in the Delhi Test, where he picked up three wickets, when none of the bowlers, including the spinners were making things happen. Morkel bowled a hostile first spell in that innings to get a couple of quick wickets, which gave South Africa an ideal start after conceding a huge first innings lead. Morkel also picked up six wickets in the Nagpur Test, despite it being a spin-friendly wicket, he bowled his heart out and it was  commendable to see a fast bowler making merry on a track that was not meant for him.

Temba Bavuma (6.5/10): Bavuma replaced Stiaan Van Zyl for the final Test and looked more composed than the latter opening the batting. Bavuma showed good technique and was willing to spend time at the crease and not give away his wicket on rash shots. He scored 22 and 34 in the two innings. Bavuma also proved to be a handy fielder at short-leg, often called upon to field in that position by his skipper through the series. South Africa must consider Bavuma for the future series especially when there are others who are struggling to find their feet. READ: India beat South Africa by 337 runs in 4th Test; Seal series 3-0

Dean Elgar (6/10): Although Elgar was expected to get South Africa off to a good starts he was massively impactful with the ball in the first Test at Mohali. When India decided to bat first at Mohali in the first Test, Elgar wrecked the Indian batting order to claim four wickets, and helped his side bowl India out for 201. Elgar was patient with the bat, putting a huge price on his wicket. He read the ball off the spinners really well and was hence a notch more successful than the others. This tour should prove to be a learning curve for Elgar, who must get better with the learning from it.  Elgar finished as South Africa’s second highest run-getter with 137 runs — albeit at a forgettable average of 19.57. Elgar ended the series with five wickets to his name.

Vernon Philander (6/10): Philander played only in the first Test, during which he picked up an injury and could no longer take part in the rest of the series. Judging him by his only performance, Philander deserves a lot of credit. He got South Africa to a good starts in both innings, removing the Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan, handing him a pair. The unfortunate injury kept Philander out of action for the last three Tests, and it can be said that his and Steyn’s absence had a massive impact on the South African fortunes.

Simon Harmer (5.5/10): Harmer, in his short career, has never been known to get a lot of spin, but he was impressive in the latter stages of the first game at Mohali. He picked up just one wicket in the first innings, but picked up four in the second, which led to an Indian collapse. At Nagpur, on a rank-turner, he managed to get a lot of turn right from Day One and trouble the Indian batsmen.  His performances were much better than South Africa’s premier spinner Imran Tahir.

Imran Tahir (5/10): Tahir was South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in the series with 14 wickets, but despite the numbers he  was not particularly effective. Tahir managed to get the wickets of top-order very rarely, and eventually just about managed to clean up the tail on a few occasions. If Tahir is compared with the Indian spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the South African would prove to be rarely effective.  He was used sparingly by his skipper through the series, but his five-wicket haul at Nagpur will perhaps be the highlight..

Dane Piedt (5/10): Piedt was excellent in the only match he got, wherein he was playing ahead of Harmer. He picked up four wickets in the first innings of the Delhi Test but failed to get even one in the second. His wickets included those of Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma — all top-order batsmen, which makes it all the more impressive.

JP Duminy (4/10): Duminy fought a lone battle when South Africa were bowled out for an embarrassing 79 in the first innings of the Nagpur Test. He top-scored with 35 in an innings inj which only two more batsmen apart from him managed to reach double figures. Duminy had missed the first Test due to an injury but played in the remaining three. He was used with the ball slenderly, but managed to pick up a wicket for his effort.

Kagiso Rabada (4/10): Rabada, managed to pick up just a couple of wickets in the first three Tests and was therefore axed for the fourth Test. He made his Test debut at Mohali and his first wicket in the longest format was of ’India’s skipper Kohli, which was certainly not bad start to the Test career. He managed just one more wicket in the remaining four innings he bowled in and as a result could not find a place in the Delhi Test, which was perhaps the right call. But Rabada certainly remains as the discovery of the tour for South Africa.

Hashim Amla (3/10): Having averaged well over the 80s during his previous tour of India, all hopes were pinned on Amla in this series. South Africa went nine away series in a row without losing and they were expected to put up a good fight even this time. Sadly, Amla failed miserably, notching up just 118 runs in seven innings at an embarrassing 16.85. He did score 43 in his first innings of the first Test , but things went downhill from there. Amla played 244 deliveries for 25 in his final innings of the series, as South Africa were looking to draw the Delhi Test, but his efforts went in vain.

Faf du Plessis (2/10): Du Plessis was the most disappointing batsman for South Africa throughout the series. He was in good form going into the Tests,  after having a good outing in the limited-overs fixtures. Du Plessis struggled to pick up the spinners and missed straight deliveries to everyone’s surprise. He played for the turn more often than not and missed the straight ones, which got him into trouble. The scores of 0, 1, 0, 10, 39, 0, 10 in his seven innings in the series tell the story of one of South Africa’s most dependable batsmen having had worst series of his life till date. With just 60 runs in seven innings is horrendous for a batsman of the calibre of du Plessis. And not to forget, the average of 8.57 in four Tests in 2015 will hound him the next time du Plessis will land in India for Test cricket.

Dane Vilas (1.5/10): Vilas had a horrible series both as a batsman and a wicketkeeper. This was his first tour of India in his brief career and had a major problem in ‘keeping against the spinners. Many extras were conceded, both off spinners as well as the fast bowlers. Talking about his batting, Vilas resembled a fish out of the water tank every time he was on strike, having very less clue to bat against spinners. He was expected to provide some resistance, but with 60 runs in seven innings at 8.57, Vilas disappointed the South Africans.

Dale Steyn (1/10): Steyn, like Philander, played only the first Test and did not bowl in the second innings at Mohali due to a groin strain. Steyn did not manage to get a single wicket and was ineffective through the first innings as well. Steyn missed the remainder of the Tests and Marchant de Lange was called as cover for the final two Tests. This is perhaps the first time Steyn missed three continuous Tests for South Africa.

Stiaan Van Zyl (1/10): After his unbeaten century on debut against West Indies in 2014, Van Zyl has found Test cricket extremely hard. He was given the responsibility of opening the innings along with Elgar. He got 36 batting at No. 6 at Mohali, which was his highest score, which is perhaps an indication that South Africa will have to wait and reassess their plans for the left-hander. Interestingly, van Zyl got his maiden century batting in the same position.

(NOTE: Marchant de Lange did not play despite being part of the squad for the final two Tests, and hence not been rated).

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)