Despite KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant smashing a spell-binding 204-run partnership, India crashed to a 118-run defeat at The Oval on Tuesday to England, losing the series 1-4.
This was an important tour for many of the current lot of players. Four years earlier, MS Dhoni’s side was young and lacked experience as there were a slew of players getting their first taste of being a part of a Test series in England. An older and wiser Indian batting order this time around, though, failed to impose themselves and that went on to have a significant bearing on the outcome of the series.
England’s lower-order batsmen consistently chipped in with runs also proved costly; the hosts also held their nerve better in crunch situations compared to their opponents. Meanwhile, skipper Virat Kohli well and truly exorcised the ghosts from 2014. The 29-year-old had finished the series foue-year’s ago with a dismal average of 13.40, but here, he was the best batsman of this series by some distance.
India’s pace trio of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah also enhanced their reputation. They were relentless and gave credence to the argument that they formed India’s best ever pace attack.
Here are ratings out of 10, taking all aspects of the game into account.
Matches: 4, Runs: 162, Average: 20.25
At the end of the series, Dhawan’s reputation has taken quite a hit. The southpaw continued to struggle against quality seam attacks, nicking it to the slip cordon at will. His series ended on a whimper; pace ace James Anderson trapping him leg-before trying to sway across the line. It will come as a surprise though to see the swashbuckling opener getting the boot from the Test team as he has good numbers to point at on home soil. No high-fives for Dhawan’s performances.
Matches: 5, Runs: 299, Average: 29.90
Rahul was staring down the barrel of a nightmarish tour, failing to put bat on ball on some occasions. Otherwise, he looked vulnerable every time the ball nipped back into him. His dream Indian Premier League season seemed like a distant memory. But, Rahul roared back with a scintillating 149 in the fifth Test, almost taking his team to a record win from a hopeless position. Will this knock prove to be a turning point in his career? After starting out as a pauper, the 26-year-old finished like a king. Finishing with an unprecedented 14 catches, Rahul earns two points for his fielding alone.
Matches: 2, Runs:26, Average: 6.50
Vijay faces a long, tough road towards earning his place back in the Test side. By then, he might have 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw to compete for a spot. The 34-year-old had a horrendous run, which ended with a pair at Lord’s.
Matches: 4, Runs: 272, Average: 39.71
Pujara’s battling unbeaten hundred at Southampton will probably rank among one of his finest. The India no 3 scored most of those runs with the tail. He continues to be circumspect outside off and will need to prove that he can be a force to recon with in the SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia) countries.
Matches: 5, Runs: 593, Average: 59.30
Kohli checked off the one blemish he had on his colossal run-scoring CV – conquering the Dukes ball in English conditions. He looked streaky, had Anderson beat him on a number of occasions and catches were put down too. The determination of the Indian captain to lead from the front was palpable, and he oozed class. There was a clear daylight between Kohli and the rest of the batsmen from either side. As a captain, the no 1 ranked Test batsman meandered through certain sessions, which had a bearing on the result. Kohli leaves England having earned new fans. One doubts if the same can be said about his leadership and tactics.
Matches: 5, Runs: 257, Average: 25.70
Four years ago, on a raging green top at Lord’s, Rahane scored a hundred when most of his teammates struggled to get bat on ball. But in this series, the Rahane in action was the one who was circumspect outside the off-stump and was perhaps a little directionless about how to build a big knock. Barring a sturdy partnership with Kohli at Trent Bridge, Rahane didn’t have much to show.
Matches: 2, Runs: 21, Average: 5.25
Much was expected from Dinesh Karthik, who has had a stellar white-ball season. A miserable run in the first two Tests saw him being replaced by Rishabh Pant after the Lord’s debacle.
Matches: 1, Runs: 56, Average: 28, Wickets: 3
A battling 56 in the first innings at The Oval showed that Hanuma Vihari belonged at the big stage. The Andhra batsmen showed good temperament and a sound technique against Broad and Anderson. With staggering numbers in domestic cricket to back his talent, Vihari deserves an extended run in the middle-order. The gamble to play Vihari over the experienced Karun Nair certainly paid off for the think-tank.
Matches: 4, Runs: 164, Batting Average: 23.42, Wickets: 10, Bowling Average: 24.70
Hardik Pandya fared much better that what some of his critics give him credit for. But it should be noted that he has a long way to go before being put in the same league as, say, Ben Stokes. The India all-rounder set the tone for his side’s win at Trent Bridge with his first five-wicket haul in international cricket. He followed that up with a fifty in the second innings, which put England out of the contest. Hardik, though, needs to show more consistency. The tour ended on a sombre note for him as he was dropped for the final Test.
Matches: 3, Runs: 164, Average: 27
Before he stepped out to bat at The Oval, Rishabh Pant had a poor run with the bat. But a magnificent partnership with Rahul changed that. In Pant, India has a potential match-winner. He can be devastating down the order when the pitches are easier to bat on. As a keeper, Pant showed good agility but still needs to add a little more finesse to his glovework; India conceded too many byes in the last three Tests.
Our Rating: 6/10
Matches: 4, Runs: 126, Batting Average: 21, Wickets: 11, Average: 32.72
For Ashwin, this England tour was a missed opportunity. The off-spinner got off to a dream start, picking up seven wickets in the first game to put India in the driver’s seat. His fortunes steadily nosedived as the series progressed. Ashwin missed a genuine chance to work the footholes outside off-stump at Southampton, and England punished him. He missed the last Test due to injury.
Matches: 1, Runs: 99, Wickets: 7
Jadeja’s performance in the final Test of the series would have forced the management to think if keeping the swashbuckling all-rounder out was a wise move in the first place. There was little he could do in the second innings to stop England from winning. We will see more of Jadeja during the upcoming West Indies series at home.
Matches: 5, Wickets: 16, Average: 38.87
Shami bowled heart out and was consistent with his pace. The pacer, though, had rotten luck and should have had plenty more in the wickets column, especially in the final Test. He was adept at bowling with the new ball or reversing it with the old cherry. As a bowler, Shami grew by a notch.
Matches 5: Wickets: 18, Average: 24.27
Ishant assumed the role of senior pacer with aplomb. He repeatedly troubled England’s battery of left-handed batsmen while bowling round the wicket. The landing at the crease is now smooth and the lengths are more consistent than he has ever been. India couldn’t have asked for more from the bury pacer.
Matches: 3, Wickets: 14, Average: 25.92
If there is an x-factor in India’s bowling arsenal, it is Jasprit Bumrah. One wonders if the 24-year-old’s presence in the first two Tests could have had a bearing on the series result. After running through South Africa earlier in the year, Bumrah’s dream start to red-ball cricket continues. India’s bowling attack had a different look to it after he returned from injury. What a find.
Matches: 1, Wickets: 3, Average: 25.33
Umesh Yadav played the first match of the series and then sat out. While many thought he was going to be the spearhead in this attack, his waywardness crept back into his bowling at Edgbaston and that seemed to be it for him. He, along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, has his task cut out trying to dislodge one of Shami, Ishant, and Bumrah.
Matches: 1, Wickets: 0
What was poor Kuldeep supposed to do when his captain and coach read the conditions wrong at Lord’s. After bamboozling England in white-ball cricket, Kuldeep went for plenty in the only match he played.