Grade card: How Indian players fared

By annihilating Sri Lanka 3-0 in the recent Test series, India became the first team from the sub-continent to whitewash a home side in a rubber of three or more Tests. And what was particularly compelling about the triumph was the ruthlessness with which it was executed. Sportstar analyses the performances of the players behind this stupendous Indian victory.

Hardik Pandya celebrates his maiden Test century at Pallekele. Patting him gently with the bat is Umesh Yadav.   -  AP

Hardik Pandya: 8/10 points

Pencilled in for lending balance to the team, Pandya proved to be a game-changer. Skipper Virat Kohli said that the all-rounder could play a role similar to the one executed by England’s Ben Stokes. It is a huge benchmark, but Pandya made a start — whether it was picking up the crucial wickets, making smart stops in the field or scoring that rousing 108, with just No. 10 and 11 for company, at Pallekele.

A pile of runs... Shikhar Dhawan amassed 358 runs in the series that included two centuries.   -  AP

Shikhar Dhawan: 7

Keen on holidaying and spending time with his family in Australia, Dhawan got an SOS from the team management following Murali Vijay’s wrist-injury. The southpaw slammed two hundreds, amassed 358 runs and came up with the tour’s best line: “If you bat like a king, get dismissed like a king, not like a soldier. I would rather get out attacking than defending.”

Ravichandran Ashwin: 7

Ashwin plugged away with the ball and also scored some handy runs lower down the order. Coming in at No. 6 and displaying a loose-limbed wristy style — something similar to that of V.V.S. Laxman — Ashwin lent reassurance to the tail. And with the red cherry, he spun a web that fetched him 17 wickets.

Cheteshwar Pujara: 7

The batsman with a Bradmanesque appetite for runs, was asked ahead of his 50th Test in Colombo, “Do you ever get bored of scoring runs?” His reply was quick and with a guffaw: “Never”. Pujara scored two centuries, held on to some tough catches, but remained an unsung presence. However, as always, the Saurashtra cricketer was remarkably effective.

Ravichandran Ashwin... 17 wickets in the series.   -  AP

Ravindra Jadeja: 6

The twirling of the bat, and the charged up celebrations after taking a wicket were all on view. Ravindra Jadeja was always in the thick of things, until a throw from him whizzed past Dimuth Karunaratne’s face and cost him the game at Pallekele. Until then, Jadeja remained a vital part of Kohli’s unit.

Virat Kohli: 6

Having endured a low-key run by his own exalting standards in Tests, the India captain partially made amends by scoring a century and leading the side well. He weighed his words at press conferences, and if there was one sore point, it was his catching in the slips. A fielder supreme in the outfield, Kohli needs to be at his best while standing in the close-in cordon.

Ajinkya Rahane: 6

After a remarkable run as a Test batsman, Rahane seemed to have suddenly hit a flat spot. Signs of revival were evident in the series against Sri Lanka, and he had a century to boot. Critically, he held his catches at first slip off the spinners and was an active member of the team’s think-tank.

Cheteshwar Pujara... a batsman with a tremendous appetite for runs, he scored two centuries in the series.   -  AP

K. L. Rahul: 6

There was a stage in Rahul’s career when he struck more hundreds than fifties, and now he seems to have reversed the trend. “Oh, how I wish I could score a century!” he quipped at a media conference. Having missed the first Test due to viral fever, Rahul scored two fifties — one each in the next two Tests.

Wriddhiman Saha: 6

It is never easy to step into M.S. Dhoni’s shoes. But in his own inimitable way, Saha is attempting to do that. Doughty with the bat and safe with the gloves, the wicketkeeper was critical to India’s success. He held some brilliant catches, a diving effort to get rid of Kusal Mendis being the pick. And when it mattered, he scored some handy runs too.

Mohammed Shami: 6

Back from injuries, Shami was a revelation. He was fast and cunning, and his swing — conventional and reverse — posed problems to the Sri Lankan batsmen. He had a bag of 10 wickets in the series. Shami struck a fine tandem with Umesh Yadav, and the Sri Lankan skipper, Dinesh Chandimal, said: “At one point against them, we thought we were playing in England.”

Mohammed Shami is jubilant after dismissing Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne on the second day of the third Test at Pallekele. Shami rattled the Sri Lankan batsmen with his swing.   -  AP

Umesh Yadav: 5

Swift and persistent, Umesh was an ideal foil to Shami. He prised out crucial wickets, used the long handle to good effect in the tail, and ensured that India was always in the game despite a few fumbles close to the finish.

Kuldeep Yadav: 5

Coming in place of Jadeja, who was suspended for the final Test, chinaman spinner Kuldeep excelled at Pallekele, snaring vital wickets. He was also good with the bat, and without doubt he is India’s third spinner after Ashwin and Jadeja.

Abhinav Mukund: 5

Being a stand-by opener can be a nerve-wracking experience. Over a staggered and sporadic international career, Abhinav has flickered and faded. He got one opportunity in the first Test after Rahul was indisposed, but the left-hander, after a first innings failure, came good in the second dig. More than that, he was alert and safe at short-leg and plucked a brilliant catch.