Oh India, what could have been...
India kept up with England in the first half of the series and then fell away
We look at an Indian team who leave England with what ended up being a bit of a ‘what could have been’ series for the visitors:
KL Rahul – A stylish and gifted opener but just could not get going all summer. Became part of a brittle top order that, besides the third test, gave very little protection to their middle order. Made almost half of his runs in the last innings where India was always going to lose and the series was over. His 149 runs out of 299 series runs came in that innings. Should be reaching his peak over the next 3 to 4 years and will need a big summer in Australia for Kohli to keep them faith in him. Rating – 4
Murali Vijay – It’s hard to believe a batsman with the talent of Vijay could average under 40 in test cricket. Was all at sea for the two tests he played and was rightly dropped and sent home, possibly never to be seen again. Rating - 1
Shikhar Dhawan – Like Rahul and Vijay his test average has taken a bit of a battering on the two overseas tours to South Africa and England. Only showed some quality in the third test where he was disciplined in making a start. Besides that offered very little. Rating – 2
Cheteshwar Pujara – With the top order failing needed to give his team stability with Kohli. Did so with a good 72 at Nottingham before a brilliant century at Southhampton, but wasn’t enough overall. Questionable overseas performances in the past and although not as bad as the three players above, didn’t deliver quite enough for his team. Rating – 6.5
Virat Kohli – In the first test of the summer, played one of the all time great test performances in a losing team, where he almost single handedly (Sharma and Ashwin helped with the ball) carried his team to a win. Was head and shoulders above the next best batsmen over the summer in terms of run scoring and class. Put to bed the problems he had 4 years prior in England making 593 runs at close to 60. Seemed to be a bit jaded by the end of the tour which could have been from just needing to do too much in this team of struggling batsmen. Use of DRS needs to improve. Rating – 9
Ajinkya Rahane – Really struggled early in the series getting out to balls he didn’t really need to play at. Made 81 in the third test and was almost the hero with a second innings partnership of 101 with Kohli in the second innings at Southhampton in an attempt to keep the series alive which did not eventuate. However an average of mid 20s wasn’t enough for the teams vice captains and experienced batsmen. Rating – 5
Dinesh Karthik – Struggled with the gloves and struggled with the bat. Rating – 1
Rishabh Pant – His footwork behind the stumps to the seamers needs to improve. It resulted in a couple of dropped catches that good keepers would have taken. However he is young and nerves of a first test series may have been an issue. Pant clearly can bat and although a short individual, can hit the ball a long way. His approach when chasing a total in the fourth test was the right one despite the fact it didn’t come off, and a century in the final test will see him remain as India’s test keeper for future test matches. India could have one here. Must continue to work hard and develop his keeping as there is a lot of room for improvement here. Rating – 6
Ravi Ashwin – Started the series quite brilliantly and bowling Cook with very similar deliveries was outstanding. But fell away as the series went on due to injury and a lack of form. Although a great bowler in the sub continent, questions still remain on his quality outside of Asia. Rating – 5
Ishant Sharma – India’s best bowler. Bowled a wonderful spell before tea in the first test that had England at 7-87 and should have really carried India to a test win. His around the wicket bowling to the left handers was a handful throughout. Rating – 8
Mohammed Shami – 16 wickets at 38 on wickets that suited his seam upright bowling just wasn’t enough. You get the feeling that if Bhuveneswar Kumar played in these conditions he would have taken 8-10 more wickets than this at an 8-10 better average. Rating – 5
Jasper Bumrah – Despite the worst action in world cricket he has got a very big heart and can bowl at good speed. 15 wickets at a mid 20s average was just rewards for a bowler who has done well in 2018 and will lead the attack with Sharma in Australia. Rating – 8
Umesh Yadav – Not enough control and Kohli didn’t have the patience to wait for it to get better. Rating – 2
Hanuma Vihari – A fifty on debut was a nice way to start a test career, and managed to take 3-38 with what some parts of the cricketing world would call ‘fruit salad’. Rating – 6
The 4-1 series score may have been harsh on India, but when the first and fourth tests where there for them to take, they just didn’t grab their opportunities. The series seemed to pass India by when they were arms reach in taking hold of it. A frustrating tour where an over reliance on one batsman became their greatest problem.
Some positives with the batting of Virat Kohli, the bowling of Ishant Sharma and the potential of Rishabh Pant as they look forward to a tour of Australia later in the year.