Border-Gavaskar Trophy: Player Ratings
A one-sided series that was completely dominated by the hosts, did spring a few surprises for the audience with experiments like that of Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and Ravindra Jadeja coming good for India. On the other hand, the Australians looked completely out of sorts, with only a few players performing well in patches. The series turned out to be a sweet revenge for the Indians as they faced the ignominy of being on the other side of the same result when they toured Australia 14 months back.
A look at how the players from both the sides fared in the bilateral Test series:
Although Cowan got off to decent starts in five out of the eight innings, he was able to convert only one of them into a good score, that too being a shaky 86 at Mohali. Like most of his teammates, he struggled against the spinners and failed to make an impact at the top of the order.
A lot was expected from David Warner up front, especially with inexperienced Indian pacers bowling at him, and with the exception of two fifties, he failed miserably in the series. He could be held highly responsible for all those poor starts, given his experience in Indian conditions, courtesy Indian Premier League.
Probably the weakest player of spin in the entire Australian side, he was outdone completely in the Indian conditions, especially with Ashwin bamboozling him five times. He looked to make amends in the second innings of the Mohali Test with a quick 69, but it was too late to cause any sort of improvement in the shabby performances of the kangaroos.
The Australian vice-captain came into the series as a pure batsman and with a heavy knowledge of the sub-continental conditions, he was supposed to lead the young batting brigade. He not only failed to inspire them on the field, but also failed to do his homework off the field, giving him the most forgettable series of his career. Leading the side in the fourth Test, he guided Australia to their closest loss of the Test series.
I would definitely rate him as the finest player of spin from the Aussie side in this tour, as he looked at ease with the bat in his hand. His feet movement against the spinners was a treat to watch and had he been selected to play in the first two Tests, the series could have witnessed a few close results. With his performances, Smith might have well cemented his place in the Test team.
Clarke had a touch of his fabulous form in the recent past which he carried into the first two Tests, raising a lone hand for the visitors. But as soon as Ravindra Jadeja found out the Australian captain’s batting weakness, Clarke silently joined his colleagues on the path to an epic whitewash and a back injury added to his woes as he decided to sit out of the final Test.
Moises Henriques scored half-centuries in both the innings of his debut Test in Chennai, but he slowly faded out with a few classy deliveries from the Indian slow bowlers spelling his doom in the next two Test matches and added to that, his feeble bowling went against him during selection for the final Test match.
The latest million dollar boy of the Indian Premier League never looked comfortable in the whites, with both his bowling and batting not good enough in the longer format of the game. Although he was experimented by shuffling his position in the batting order, nothing seemed to work in the visitors’ favour.
Wade looked highly unfamiliar with the subcontinental conditions as he failed to impress behind the stumps with some sloppy wicket-keeping. Wade failed to take lessons from his Indian counterpart and his batting too wasn’t impressive.
Haddin was sent as a replacement to Wade, but like his previous Indian tours, Haddin had a forgettable outing with the bat in the only Test he played at Mohali.
Pattinson had a good start to the series with a five-wicket haul in the Chennai Test, but soon, he lost his bearings with the ball, largely due to the nature of the pitches, and was not able to make breakthroughs once India started to have a formidable opening pair in the middle. He was dropped for the third Test for not following his coach’s orders.
Siddle, like Pattinson, bowled well in all the matches, but was not able to take wickets on the flat tracks. Siddle will be remembered for his two fighting half-centuries in the Delhi Test, where he outscored all the batsmen of his side and also became the first No. 9 batsman to hit scores of 50+ in both innings of a Test match.
Starc was highly ineffective with his bowling as he failed to contain the batsmen and also to take wickets. But Starc probably played the best innings of the series from an Australian batsman in Mohali, where he almost saved the match with his 99 before Shikhar Dhawan changed the direction of the match.
The most experienced of all the Australian bowlers, Johnson looked terrible with both the bat and ball and failed to win any kind of applause in his only Test at Delhi.
Although numbers might suggest Lyon to be the best bowler for the visitors, Lyon fell short in class, as Indians made merry against his bowling for most of the matches, before Lyon produced some magic on the uneven pitch at Delhi.
Doherty was easily at the receiving end of the Indians’ wrath in both the Tests he played as he went for a barrage of runs with the ball. It was pretty evident that the void left by Shane Warne has become broader ever since he quit the game.
After failing to make an impact on his home ground at Chepauk, Murali Vijay slowly rose to glory with his immaculate technique and solid patience earning him two big centuries in Hyderabad and Mohali and a fighting fifty on the Kotla pitch. He strengthened his position as India’s opener, thus succeeding in his comeback into the Indian side.
Coming into the series knowing that this might be his last chance to stick to his spot in the side, Virender Sehwag easily looked like a clown in the middle with those spectacles and his big belly. Viru was only a mere shadow of his past, as he was dropped for the third and fourth Tests.
He came, he saw and he conquered. Dhawan was waiting to get into the Test ranks for quite a long time and he grabbed the opportunity with both his hands, as he shut the doors on Gautam Gambhir and Sehwag by scoring the fastest ever century on debut in Mohali. Dhawan will be remembered for a long time, especially for his curly moustache.
Considered as a replacement to The Wall, Pujara performed the duties of his predecessor with subtle aggression. He stood tall and held the team together in crunch situations and also batted the team out of trouble as a makeshift opener in the final Test. He could turn out to be the mainstay of the Indian batting in the future.
Except for his half-century in the Chennai Test, Tendulkar didn’t look to be anywhere near his best as age seems to have finally caught up with the Little Master. Sachin, who might have well played his last series at home, was a huge failure in terms of the endless expectations from millions of his fans.
Kohli too didn’t fulfil the promises that his form last year gave. Although he scored a century and a fifty in the series, these scores didn’t exactly match the technique and prowess inside the youngster. He also dropped a few catches in the slip cordon and it is definitely an area where Kohli has to work on.
Rahane has been on the bench for half his lifetime and when he was given a chance on account of Dhawan’s injury, he failed to capitalize on it, getting dismissed to unwarranted shots in both the innings of the final Test.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
The 224 in Chennai would explain MSD’s attitude towards the game. The captain of the ship played exemplary cricket throughout the series, rotating his bowlers cleverly and setting up attacking fields to the batsmen. He approached the game with a positive intent and got the much deserved result at the end of the series.
He was India’s biggest find of the series as we found a matured Ravindra Jadeja on the field with every passing match. His bowling looked accurate and stringent and his batting seemed to have clicked in the final Test. Added to that, his abilities as a fielder make him one of the prospective long-term assets for the Indian team.
Ashwin finally found his rhythm back after a dismal series against England as he proved more than handful against the Aussies. He consumed the Australian batsmen with a lot of unplayable deliveries and was rightfully adjudged the Man of the Series.
Bhajji failed in another attempt to claim his comeback into the Indian side as he looked off-target in the first two matches. He failed to get wickets and was eventually dropped after the second Test.
Probably the most unlucky Indian player of the series, the best spinner before the Chennai Test was made to sit out of the first two matches to make Harbhajan play his 100th Test. A long wait on the bench lost him his form as he leaked runs and was not rewarded with wickets in spite of his good bowling.
Bhuvneshwar never made it look like his debut series as he led the bowling attack with some great swing bowling with the new ball. He also lent able support MS Dhoni reach his double century at Chennai. On his day, Kumar could be a dangerous customer.
Ishant fulfilled his role as the most experienced Indian pacer, showing great commitment with the ball. He operated with Bhuvneshwar in tandem to form a good opening combo with the ball for India.