It was Virat Kohli's first series win at home as the Indian Test skipper © AFP
It was Virat Kohli’s first series win at home as the Indian Test skipper © AFP

India defeated South Africa by a comprehensive 3-0 margin in the four-Test Freedom Series for the Gandhi-Mandela Trophy 2015. It could well have been a 4-0 whitewash but for rain playing spoilsport in the second Test at Bengaluru. It was a series dominated by the bowlers from either side, with the Indian spinners taking a truckload of wickets. As the series draws to an end, here is the report card of how the Indian players fared in the series. The players are marked out of 10, with 0 being abysmal and 10 being spectacular. The players are arranged in descending order of points. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs South Africa 2015 4th Test at Delhi

Ravichandran Ashwin, 9.5/10: Easily the most valuable player from either side, Ashwin continued his dominance with the ball in 2015. After doing well without reward in England in 2014 and Australia in 2014-15, Ashwin finally came into his own while playing in the subcontinent. He has taken 57 wickets in the last eight Tests he has played — that is over seven wickets per match — in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and now India. He took 31 wickets in four Tests (but only seven innings, since the Bengaluru Test was washed out) this series at a stunning average of 11.12 with four five-wicket hauls and a 10-for. He also scored 101 runs at 25.25, thereby averaging more than Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, and Wriddhiman Saha. He was deservingly named Man of the Series.

Ravindra Jadeja, 9/10: Jadeja was on a comeback trail after having been dropped from India’s Test squad following the tour to Australia. He had an unbelievable start to the Ranji Trophy 2015-16 season, taking six five-wicket hauls in consecutive innings to announce his return to form in only four matches. He combined with Ashwin to devastate South Africa in tandem. He took 23 wickets at an average of 10.82 — the best for either team — and conceded just 1.76 runs per over. He took two five-fors as well, and scored a valuable 109 runs at 21.80, making a couple of valiant contributions down the order in trying conditions.

Ajinkya Rahane, 8/10: The series had not seen a single century being scored after three Tests. Rahane ended up scoring twin centuries in the fourth game at Delhi, thereby not only ending a personal run drought that had lasted four home Tests. Rahane scored just 39 in his first four innings, but ended the series with 127 and 100 not out, thereby taking his series tally to 266 runs at 53.20, comfortably the best from either side. His fielding and slip catching, as usual, was exemplary.

Amit Mishra, 8/10: The third spinner in the side, Mishra played only two games. In those two matches, he took seven wickets at 17.28. He was largely under-bowled as Ashwin and Jadeja got extended spells more often than not. Mishra did a commendable job when he was called upon, frequently taking key wickets at vital times. He dismissed AB de Villiers in both innings of the first Test and got rid of both Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis in the second innings at Nagpur after the duo had batted brilliantly.

Murali Vijay, 7/10: India’s top-order monk batted serenely in the first Test at Mohali and looked good in Bengaluru and Nagpur as well. He scored just one fifty in the series but got a couple of important 40s that ensured India got to defendable scores virtually every time. His 210 runs and average of 35 made him India’s second best batsman after Rahane in terms of average and runs scored.

Cheteshwar Pujara, 7/10: Like Vijay, Pujara too showed immense resolve to bail India out of trouble on more than one occasion. Pujara scored 202 runs at 33.66 with just one fifty, but looked confident every time he came out to bat. Given the context of the series, he was one of the best batsmen on display.

Virat Kohli, 7/10: The Indian captain led the side admirably, making smart field settings and bowling changes. Though he seemed to get a bit impatient in the final innings at Delhi — bringing on Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, and himself to bowl was questionable — he stayed composed and ensured India went through comfortably in the end. He was not able to score as heavily as he usually does, but an aggregate of 200 runs at 33.33 was a respectable return. Kohli looked unstoppable in both innings of the fourth Test at Delhi, but was denied big scores because of a freak dismissal in the first innings and a ball that kept unusually low in the second essay.

Umesh Yadav, 7/10: India rotated their pacers, opting for Varun Aaron ahead of Umesh on one occasion. By the end of the series it was clear which of the two will be a part of India’s next Test. While Aaron was quick but wayward Umesh managed to trouble batsmen with his awkward bounce and skiddy pace. His spell to AB de Villiers on the fifth day of the final Test made the South African lynchpin poke and fend awkwardly despite being untroubled by anyone else. Umesh did not leak runs as he sometimes does; his five wickets came at a shockingly low average of 12, and he went for a measly 1.42 runs per over — a better economy rate than Jadeja, Ashwin, Mishra, and Ishant Sharma!

Wriddhiman Saha, 6/10: The wicketkeeper-batsman gave a good account of himself behind the stumps but again failed to deliver with the bat. He scored only 83 runs at 16.60, though he did play a couple of resolute knocks. His keeping was impressive, and he managed to take a couple of superb catches over the course of the series. Saha’s batting remains a problem.

Ishant Sharma, 5/10: Ishant took a solitary wicket in three matches in the series, but India would not mind that. He ensured there was constant pressure from his end while the spinners ran through South Africa. Though he was not among the wickets he conceded a mere 1.85 runs per over. He bowled the most overs for India after Ashwin and Jadeja, which shows how much Kohli relied on him.

Shikhar Dhawan, 5/10: After getting a pair at Mohali — incidentally the venue of his record-breaking 187 on Test debut — Dhawan was under immense pressure to perform. He responded with a good 45 not out at Bengaluru, and was unlucky that rain prevented him from going on to make a big score. His 39 was India’s highest score in the second innings of the low-scoring Nagpur Test, while he got India off to good starts with 33 and 21 at Delhi as well. Consistency remains a problem for Dhawan, and he will want to find a way to convert his starts from now on.

Stuart Binny, 4/10: It is both difficult and unfair to judge Binny, given that he bowled three overs — of which two were maidens — and conceded a solitary run in the washed-out Bengaluru Test. He opened bowling and managed to keep things tight to begin with. He did not get to bat either.

Varun Aaron, 4/10: Despite the series being enormously bowler-friendly, Aaron did little of note except castling Hashim Amla with a beauty in the second Test at Bengaluru. He went at 3.60 runs per over in a series where the next-most expensive Indian bowler was Amit Mishra (who also took seven wickets) with an economy rate of 2.81. To his credit, Aaron did not bowl badly, but did not stand out in the way Umesh did.

Rohit Sharma, 2/10: The only rank disappointment for India in the series was Rohit Sharma. He got a chance in two Tests but ended up with scores of 2, 23, 1, and 0. He was promoted to No. 3 in the second innings at Delhi but was out for a golden duck. It is unfortunate that Rohit has not been able to make good on his promise in Test cricket. With youngsters like Shreyas Iyer and Karun Nair waiting in the wings, Rohit’s days in India’s Test line-up are numbered. He certainly did not help his case in this series.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)