India vs Australia: How did your favourite players fare in Border-Gavaskar Trophy?

Here’s how each Indian player fared in the four-match Test series which ebbed and flowed till the last hour of the last session of the final day.

India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a memorable 2-1 series victory in Brisbane.   -  Getty Images

India, which had five players making their debut in the series, defied odds to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a memorable 2-1 series victory in Brisbane. A staggering unbeaten 89 from Rishabh Pant and a resolute fifty from Cheteshwar Pujara ended Australia’s stranglehold over the Gabba fortress, helping India snatch a three-wicket win. Here’s how each Indian player fared in the four-match Test series which ebbed and flowed till the last hour of the last session of the final day.

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Ajinkya Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane stepped up to take the mantle of India’s captaincy in Virat Kohli’s absence and led with gusto and firepower. His 112 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) ensured India kept the demons of Adelaide at bay. As skipper, he displayed tactical nous and game awareness — like when he introduced Ravichandran Ashwin into the attack early on day one in Melbourne, and the off-spinner boosted India’s confidence with the early wicket of Steve Smith. Or when he promoted Rishabh Pant ahead of Hanuma Vihari to partner Cheteshwar Pujara during India’s chase in Sydney, to put a right-left combination and split two batsmen reliant on defence. India coach Ravi Shastri was also effusive in his praise for Rahane and his handling of an inexperienced bowling attack.

Points: 9/10

Ajinkya Rahane

Ajinkya Rahane scored his 12th Test hundred against Australia at the MCG.   -  Getty Images

 

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Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant ended the series with 274 runs including two aggressive half-centuries in Sydney and Brisbane, eight catches and a memorable ‘Player of the Match’ award. His unbeaten 89 on a fifth-day pitch was one of the highlights of India’s stunning three-wicket win at the Gabba. Pant combined calmness with confidence and was disciplined, for a large part, with his shot selection, an aspect of his game that has drawn criticism from head coach Ravi Shastri in the past. That said, his counter-attacking cricket gave India’s run chases a new lease of life in the third and fourth Tests.

Point: 9/10

Shubman Gill

Shubman Gill’s tally of 259 runs at an average of 51.80 in his debut series is a testament to his talent and appetite for success. Every time the Australian quicks bowled too short or too full, he cut and pulled or drove with ease. He was comfortable facing the short ball and his onslaught against Mitchell Starc — he hit three consecutive boundaries off his bowling — en route to an aesthetically pleasing 91 truly announced his arrival on the big stage.

Points: 9/10

Ravichandran Ashwin

In many ways, Ravichandran Ashwin emerged as the leader of an attack that was ravaged by injuries over the course of the series. His duels, especially with Steve Smith, set the pace for India and gave the series some gripping contests. The off-spinner got rid of Australia’s best batsman three times in six innings, and Ashwin’s unbeaten 128-ball 39, while battling a back ache on day five in Sydney, helped India save the Test.

Points: 8.5/10

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Cheteshwar Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara

India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara talking to the physio after being struck by the ball during day five of the fourth Test against Australia at The Gabba on Tuesday.   -  Getty Images

 

Cheteshwar Pujara batted through the series with his trademark equanimity, even-headed judgement and bravado. His fighting second-innings fifty at the Gabba on a wicket with increasingly uneven bounce blunted the Australian attack and paved the way for a win. Overall, Pujara faced 928 balls, most by any batsman in the series, and while he did get out to Pat Cummins five times in four Tests, he absorbed the pressure while keeping his focus on positive cricket. The 32-year-old may not have scaled the lofty heights of the 2018-19 tour when he scored 521 runs and was the Player of the Series, but his sense of occasion while batting in tricky situations is a key reason why India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Points: 8.5/10

Mohammed Siraj

In his debut series, Mohammed Siraj demonstrated both maturity and the fruits of his hard graft. He ended the series as India’s highest wicket-taker and lived up to expectations in the three Tests he played. His maiden Test-match five-for during the second innings in Brisbane ensured Australia did not take the game away, setting up a memorable three-wicket win for India ater. That he was spearheading a makeshift Indian bowling attack with a combined experience of just four Tests at the Gabba spoke volumes for his doughty spirit.

Points: 8/10

Shardul Thakur

In a remarkable display of all-round abilities, Shardul Thakur, playing in only his second Test after his debut in 2018, turned out to be one of the fulcrums around which India built the Gabba victory. Thakur bowled only 10 balls in his first Test before pulling up with a groin injury. But he made a rousing return with the wicket of Marcus Harris off his first ball in Brisbane. The move to play Thakur as the fourth quick bowler in the final Test paid dividends when Navdeep Saini hobbled off with an injury in the first innings. Thakur gave another fillip to India’s chances in a 123-run partnership with Washington Sundar as the visiting side recovered from a precarious 186 for six.

Points: 8/10

Washington Sundar

Washington Sundar, another debutant, was played to ensure India didn’t have a long tail against a rampaging Aussie attack. Sundar hadn’t played a first-class match since November 2017, but it mattered little as he had a telling impact with bat and ball. The 21-year-old followed up his three-wicket haul with 62 off 144 balls, and his hook shot off the world’s No. 1 fast bowler Pat Cummins for six under immense pressure was a symbolic moment in India’s audacious heist at the Gabba.

Points: 8/10

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Jasprit Bumrah

Jasprit Bumrah was forced to sit out of the fourth Test, but the pace spearhead was vital to India in the series. He attacked the stumps and hurried the batsmen with short balls to pick up wickets at crucial moments. Like in the second innings in Melbourne, when he clean-bowled Steve Smith around the legs or the first innings in Sydney when he brought India back into the game with two quick strikes of Cameron Green and Tim Paine.

Points: 8/10

Ravindra Jadeja

Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out of the fourth and final Test in Brisbane with a broken left thumb. But the all-rounder was one of the key architects of India’s fightback in Melbourne, where, following his vital fifty in a 121-run stand with Ajinkya Rahane, he took two wickets for 28 runs to set up India’s eight-wicket win in the Boxing Day Test.

Points: 7.5/10

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli returned home on paternity leave after the first Test in Adelaide where India crumbled to its lowest Test score of 36 in the second innings. Earlier, Kohli’s masterful 74 made the visitor look like the favourite to win the Adelaide Test, before a mix-up with his deputy Ajinkya Rahane resulted in his run-out. It triggered a collapse that saw India slip from 188 for four to 244 all out in the first innings. The manic third afternoon in Adelaide culminated with the very first instance in history of Test cricket that all 11 batsmen and extras couldn’t cross single figures in an innings.

Points: 7/10

Hanuma Vihari

Hanuma Vihari

Hanuma Vihari in action against Australia.   -  Getty Images

 

Hanuma Vihari’s rearguard action in Sydney will remain etched in memory. The right-hander redeemed his ordinary series with a sage-like calm at the SCG, where he and Ashwin played 256 balls in their sixth-wicket partnership to salvage an improbable draw. What made his second-innings 161-ball 23 even more spectacular was the fact that he wasn’t able to run because of a right hamstring injury. India batted 131 overs in the fourth innings and went to Brisbane with the series still level at 1-1. Vihari was ruled out of the Gabba Test.

Points: 7/10

Thangarasu Natarajan

Left-arm pacer Thangasaru Natarajan had a dream tour of Australia, where he became the first Indian player to debut in all three formats after staying on as a net bowler. Natarajan picked up three wickets in the first innings of the fourth Test, including those of Marnus Labuschagne and Matthew Wade. His Test call-up fills India’s void for a left-arm pacer in five-day cricket and while it’s still too early to judge Natarajan, he has given a good account of himself.

Points: 7/10

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma played in Sydney and Brisbane. He looked comfortable in the middle, authoritative even, before rash shots on a couple of occasions brought about his downfall. His second-innings fifty at the SCG was a highlight.

Points: 6/10

Rohit Sharma

India's Rohit Sharma celebrates the dismissal of Australia skipper Tim Paine during day four of the fourth Test match of the Border-Gavaskar series at The Gabba on Monday.   -  Getty Images

 

Navdeep Saini

Navdeep Saini suffered a groin strain after bowling just 7.5 overs on day one of the Gabba Test and did not take further part in the first innings. He made his debut in the prior Test at the SCG, coming in for the injured Umesh Yadav. While he picked up four wickets in the match, Saini lacked pace and control, with wicket-taking balls being few and far between.

Points: 6/10

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Umesh Yadav

Umesh Yadav was ruled out after sustaining a calf strain during the second Test at the MCG. Yadav, who had had an average series with the ball until that point, was starting to look good in the second innings in Melbourne before the injury cut short his tour.

Points: 6/10

Mohammed Shami

Mohammed Shami suffered a fracture in his right forearm while batting on day three of the Adelaide Test and was ruled out of the rest of India’s tour of Australia.

Points: 4/10

Wriddhiman Saha

Wriddhiman Saha made 9 and 4 in India's crushing eight-wicket defeat in Adelaide and lost his place to Rishabh Pant in the subsequent Tests.

Points: 3/10

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Mayank Agarwal

Mayank Agarwal’s poor form resulted in him getting dropped for the Sydney Test. Agarwal, who made a memorable debut in Australia in 2018-19, struggled for runs with scores of 17, 9, 0, 5, 38 and 9 belying his run-scoring abilities as an opener. He batted at No. 6 in Brisbane, where he threw away promising starts.

Points: 2/10

Prithvi Shaw

Gill’s teammate in the Under-19 World Cup two years ago, Prithvi Shaw’s weaknesses were exposed in a new-ball battle against Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. The duo clean-bowled him with in-swingers in Adelaide in the first and second innings, respectively, and Shaw was subsequently dropped for the remaining matches.

Points: 2/10