India-Marks-out-of-10

India vs Sri Lanka 2015 will go down as a series of two turnarounds. Sri Lanka conceded a 192-run lead at Galle, but came back strongly to defend 176, thanks to a superlative fourth-innings haul by Rangana Herath, that sly old fox from the islands. But the story of comebacks did not stop with Herath: India turned things around, refusing to play that extra batsman, and accommodating the all-rounder: and despite the loss of two openers and the main wicketkeeper, the Indians pulled off two resounding victories at P Sara Oval and Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) to clinch the series 2-1. Scorecard: India vs Sri Lanka, 3rd Test at Colombo (SSC)

It was the first time in their history that they have won a three-Test overseas series coming from behind. It was also their first win on Sri Lankan soil after 22 years, their first overseas series win in 4 years, and the first time in 11 years that they have won two Tests in an overseas series outside Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Here, then, are India’s points out of 10 for the series:

Ravichandran Ashwin (9.5/10): India have won five series since Ashwin’s debut: he was named Man of the Series in four of them. Nobody in history has come remotely close. He has started experimenting less, focusing more on line and length and conventional off-breaks, using the carom ball as variation. The change in approach has worked for him since the Australia tour this Antipodean summer, and this tour was no exception.

Ashwin had 21 wickets, four of which were those of Kumar Sangakkara — the man who was supposed to the biggest thorn in India’s flesh. His batting did not come off before the second innings at Galle (when he was demoted to No. 9), where he responded with a fifty.

Amit Mishra (9.5/10): The first Indian to score 150 runs and take 15 wickets in a 3-Test series, Mishra emerged as one-half of the spin twins that were instrumental in India’s victory. Mishra seemed a different bowler in whites than before on pitches that aided him, often outdoing Ashwin (he finished with better bowling average and strike rate). He was more accurate than before, tossed the ball in the air more, and used the googly sparingly to lead routs.

His contribution with the bat was crucial (he reached double-figures every time he batted, and the 59 and 39 at SSC were special). Virat Kohli’s five-bowler strategy seems to come off just fine. ALSO READ: Amit Mishra emerges as perfect bowling partner for Ravichandran Ashwin

Virat Kohli (9/10): Several Indian players have pulled off stellar performances this series, but none more than Kohli the captain. He thought on his feet, erred at times, but backed himself. He chose to play five bowlers, and when it did not work, he opted for the all-rounder ahead of the extra specialist batsman. He also chose faster bowlers ahead of the safer option of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

His batting average was an acceptable 38, but he was one of the few batsmen to play all three Tests; he scored most runs among Indians, and scored 103 (coming out at 28 for 2) and 78 (from 12 for 2). An outstanding performance.

Ishant Sharma (7/10): Barring the first spell Ishant had looked clueless at Galle, while at P Sara he was competent at best. All that changed at SSC, where he scythed through the Sri Lankan top-order in the first innings to take 5 for 54 and took 3 for 32 in the second. ALSO READ: Did Ishant Sharma and Dhammika Prasad really cross a line in India vs Sri Lanka 2015, 3rd Test?

Cheteshwar Pujara (6.5/10): Pujara, whose omission from the Test side has attracted much flak for Virat Kohli, came back in style, being only the fourth Indian to carry his bat through an innings, providing more confusion for Indian selectors. Unfortunately, his two-ball duck in the second innings took the sheen off his performance. Earns an extra half point for brilliantly catching Lahiru Thirimanne at silly-point at P Sara. ALSO READ: Ishant Sharma takes 200th Test wicket on Day 5 of India vs Sri Lanka 2015

Shikhar Dhawan (5.5/10): Like Pujara, Dhawan scored a brilliant hundred (at Galle). He was also one of the two men to stand up against Herath and Tharindu Kaushal in the fourth innings before he was, rather  unfortunately, ruled out for the rest of the series. Loses half a point for poor slip fielding at Galle.

Wriddhiman Saha (5.5/10):  Saha was neat (albeit not spectacular) behind the stumps, doing a competitive job (though the drop of Dinesh Chandimal at Galle was horrible). His batting improved significantly as he scored two neat, composed, crucial fifties — the first two of many more to follow in his career. ALSO READ: India’s 2-1 Test series win over Sri Lanka: Statistical highlights

Ajinkya Rahane (5.5/10):  Rahane scored a sparkling 126 from an unaccustomed position at P Sara and played Herath brilliantly in the fourth innings at Galle with 36, but his other four innings amounted to 16. Given his splendid overseas form, however, a single poor series can be excused. Gets an extra point for fielding, and half a point on top of that for the world record for most catches at Galle.

Murali Vijay (4.5/10): India were fortunate that Vijay’s injury did not do them harm. He was missed at Galle, and despite a first-innings duck at P Sara he came back strongly to help lay foundation of a big lead with 82. India’s finest opener in recent past had been struck with injuries, but he will come back strongly.

Naman Ojha (4.5/10): Naman came in with an excellent reputation as batsman (he averages over 40 in First-Class cricket). He got starts in both innings before squandering the opportunity. While his glovework was good, he needs to work on his batting temperament if he aims a permanent spot in the Indian line-up.

Rohit Sharma (4/10): Rohit’s performance at Galle was restricted to the superlative catch of Angelo Mathews, but he contributed in the next four innings with 79, 34, 26, and 50. However, the bigger scores still remain elusive.

KL Rahul (4/10): How do you rate a person whose scores read 7, 5, 108, 2, 2, and 2? That has actually been the story of Rahul’s career: from 10 innings he has managed two hundreds, a 16, and seven single-digit scores. While he needs more consistency, he has shown he has it in him to make it big once he gets his eyes in. However, once Dhawan and Vijay both return, Rahul will probably not be a certainty in the starting XI, especially with Pujara’s performance at the top.

Stuart Binny (3.5/10): Binny was drafted in as all-rounder midway through the series, but was outdone by both Ashwin and Mishra. He had his moments, though, with a crucial 49 in the second innings at SSC after and taking out two crucial wickets. In that same innings he proved to be a utility third seamer who allowed Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav some rest between short bursts. However, if India’s bowlers start performing with the bat, Binny may not be needed in the long run, especially at home.

Umesh Yadav (3.5/10): Umesh was fast and hostile, and looked dangerous at times, especially during the first innings at SSC. Despite all that, an average of 43, coupled with an economy rate of 3.96, hardly speaks highly of the man. He has outdone Varun Aaron, but that will not earn him a permanent spot.

Varun Aaron (1.5/10): Aaron suffered from what has plagued him the most — inconsistency. If he continues to send down four or five loose deliveries an over it is unlikely he will get a nod over Umesh. He went for six runs an over, but gets half a point for the snorter that got Kaushal Silva the first morning.

Harbhajan Singh (1/10): Picked on a rank turner, Harbhajan picked up 1 for 90 from 25 overs, and had to be left out. He has been an outstanding performer for India, but his career is sadly approaching an end. Of course, people have come back after doing worse…

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)