Test series: How the Indians performed

Despite India being tested at times during the series and a few South African players giving tough competition, the domination of the Indian players was total.

It was a creditable show by the Indians in the Test series against South Africa.   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

India completed a 3-0 drubbing of South Africa in the Test series which was dominated by bowlers from both the sides. Had the Bangalore Test not been washed out, India could well have won the series 4-0. Despite India being tested at times during the series and a few South African players giving tough competition, the domination of the Indian players was total.

An analysis of the Indian players in the series.

Murali Vijay

Matches: 4; Inns: 7; Runs: 210; Highest score: 75; Ave: 35.00; 100s: 0; 50s: 1.

Vijay may not have got the big scores at the top, however, the ‘Monk’s’ 75 and 47 in Mohali and the 40 in Nagpur proved to be crucial in helping India post defendable scores. After Ajinkya Rahane, Vijay has easily been the best batsman for India in the Freedom Trophy.

Shikhar Dhawan

Matches: 4; Inns: 7; Runs: 150; Highest score: 45; Ave: 25.00; 100s: 0; 50s: 0.

Consistency was a problem for Dhawan. But the southpaw, who was dismissed for a duck in both innings in Mohali, showed immense grit as he remained unbeaten on 45 in Bangalore before rain played spoilsport. In Nagpur, Dhawan’s 39 was the highest score in India’s second innings. However, a lot was expected from the Delhi batsman, especially in Mohali, a venue where he scored his record-breaking 187 on Test debut.

Cheteshwar Pujara

Matches: 4; Inns: 6; Runs: 202; Highest score: 77; Ave: 33.66; 100s: 0; 50s: 1.

In a series dominated by bowlers, batsmen like Pujara helped India post decent totals. Just like Vijay, Pujara scored those crucial runs when India needed them. Apart from the 77 in the second innings in Mohali, Pujara may not have put on a big score, but those 20-30 runs inevitably proved to be the key to India’s success in the series.

Ajinkya Rahane

Matches: 4; Inns: 6; Runs: 266; Highest score: 127; Ave: 53.20; 100s: 2; 50s: 0.

After scoring only 39 runs in the first four innings, Rahane silenced his critics when he got hundreds in both innings of the fourth Test. In India’s 334 in the first innings, Rahane’s contribution was 127 and in the second essay he came up with an unbeaten 100 after the top four batsmen failed. Rahane remained the only century-maker of the series. Moreover, Rahane was impeccable with his slip catching.

Virat Kohli

Matches: 4; Inns: 6; Runs: 200; Highest score: 88; Ave: 33.33; 100s: 0; 50s: 1.

Kohli may not have scored heavily in the series but his partnership with Rahane in the final Test and the crucial 88 put India in a commanding position. Kohli also proved his leadership credentials, making smart field and bowling changes. Even though Kohli showed signs of impatience when South Africa stood resilient in the fourth Test, the Indian captain got back strongly on the final day of the Test, holding his ground and depending on his in-form bowlers and not experimenting much.

Rohit Sharma

Matches: 2; Inns: 4; Runs: 26; Highest score: 23; Ave: 6.50; 100s: 0; 50s: 0.

Rohit continues to be a big disappointment in Test cricket. He has not been as effective as he is in limited-overs cricket. Despite getting two Tests to cement his position in the side, Rohit failed miserably. It was more frustrating when he survived a dropped catch in the first innings of the fourth Test, only to give away his wicket two balls later. His series with the bat ended with a golden duck.

Wriddhiman Saha

Matches: 4; Inns: 6; Runs: 83; Highest score: 32; Ave: 16.60; 100s: 0; 50s: 0.

Saha’s struggle with the bat continued as he managed to score just 83 runs in the whole series. Despite a gritty 32 in Nagpur, Saha is yet to impress with his batting. However, he was proficient behind the stumps, as he collected five catches and completed two stumpings.

Ravichandran Ashwin

Matches: 4; Inns: 7; Wkts: 31; Bowl. Ave: 11.12; Eco: 2.09; 5wi: 4; 10wm: 1.

Runs: 101; Highest score: 56; Ave: 25.25; 100s: 0; 50s: 1.

The hero of the series, Ashwin, has had a phenomenal 2015. He has taken 57 wickets from his last eight Tests. With four five-fors and one 10-for, Ashwin not only had a magnificent bowling average but also scored a crucial 56 in the first innings of the Delhi Test. Following his sublime performance throughout the series, he went on to top the ICC all-rounders’ rankings in Tests, toppling Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan in the process.

Ravindra Jadeja

Matches: 4; Inns: 7; Wkts: 23; Bowl. Ave: 10.82; Eco: 1.76; 5wi: 2; 10wm: 0.

Riding on an amazing Ranji Trophy 2015-16, where he began the season by registering six five-wicket hauls, Jadeja was recalled to the Test squad after missing out on India’s tour of Australia. Along with Ashwin, Jadeja wrecked havoc on the South African batting line-up. Though Ashwin picked up the most number of wickets and registered two more five-wicket hauls and one 10-wicket haul in the series, Jadeja topped the bowling charts with a better bowling average and economy rate.

Amit Mishra

Matches: 2; Inns: 4; Wkts: 7; Bowl. Ave: 17.28; Eco: 2.81; 5wi: 0; 10wm: 0.

Mishra may have featured in only two Tests for India, but the leg-spinner ended with a healthy average. With Ashwin and Jadeja doing the job for skipper Kohli, Mishra did not have to bowl as much as the other two did. However, at crucial moments, Mishra took vital wickets. He dismissed AB de Villiers twice in the first Test and removed Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis in Nagpur just when the two looked dangerous.

Umesh Yadav

Matches: 2; Inns: 4; Wkts: 5; Bowl. Ave: 12.00; Eco: 1.42; 5wi: 0; 10wm: 0.

With an economy rate better than any other Indian bowler in the series, Umesh led from the front as he troubled the South African batsmen with his bounce and pace. His delivery to Kyle Abbott on the final day of the final Test will forever be remembered.

However, the high-point has been his spell to AB de Villiers in the final Test, which was quite commendable. Despite taking five wickets from four innings, Umesh ended with a sound average of 12.

Ishant Sharma

Matches: 3; Inns: 5; Wkts: 1; Bowl. Ave: 115.00; Eco: 1.85; 5wi: 0; 10wm: 0.

Ishant has been yet another disappointment for the Indian side in the series. He managed to take only one wicket in the whole series and ended with an abominable average of 115. However, to his credit, he gave away only 1.85 runs per over in the series, which can be regarded as a positive sign.

Varun Aaron

Matches: 2; Inns: 3; Wkts: 2; Bowl. Ave: 36.00; Eco: 3.60; 5wi: 0; 10wm: 0.

Aaron failed to do much in the series apart from bowling a beauty to Hashim Amla in the second Test in Bengaluru. In a series which was dominated by the bowlers, Aaron ended with the highest economy rate for India. Despite all that, he neither bowled badly nor did anything exceptional.