India vs Australia 2018 Team India Report Card: Pujara as-ton-ishing, Bumrah incredible

Renin Wilben
India’s long wait for a maiden Test series win in Australia ended at Sydney today after rain washed away the final day’s play and gave India a 2-1 series triumph. Chetestwar Pujara, Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant were the stars of the show for the visitors. Renin Wilben does a detailed analysis of how Virat Kohli’s men scripted history Down Under.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Border-Gavaskar Trophy

India’s Cheteshwar Pujara kisses his helmet after reaching his century (100 runs) during the first day of the fourth and final cricket Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on January 3, 2019. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)

Chetestwar Pujara (9/10): It would be unfair to term Pujara the new Wall. He has done enough to be known as Pujara himself. With three hundreds and 521 runs at an average of nearly 75, Pujara was undoubtedly the difference between the two teams, blunting out the Aussie bowlers into submission. Except Perth, he registered tons in all the other Tests, and faced a mammoth 1258 balls in the series. The only disappointment perhaps could be coming so close to a double hundred at Sydney and missing out.

Jasprit Bumrah, Border-Gavaskar Trophy

India’s Jasprit Bumrah bowls to Australia’s batsman Marcus Harris on the third day of the fourth and final cricket Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on January 5, 2019. (Photo by Peter PARKS / AFP)

Jasprit Bumrah (8/10): For someone still relatively experienced in Test cricket, Bumrah has been a revelation. The doubts over his awkward action have taken a backseat owing to his stupendous performances. The 9-wicket match haul in Melbourne was instrumental in India fighting back after the Perth disaster. The slower ball to Shaun Marsh is already a YouTube favourite and reiterated he is a smart operator. With 45 Tests wickets in 2018, he also broke the records for wickets by an Indian in his debut year.

Also Read: Pant, Kohli try to make ‘Player of series’ shake a leg after Test series win in Australia; watch

Mayank Agarwal, Border-Gavaskar Trophy

India batsman Mayank Agarwal makes a run on the first day of the fourth and final Test match against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on January 3, 2019. (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)

Mayank Agarwal (8/10): To be fair, Agarwal should have been handed a Test debut long back. But then, in hindsight, one wonders if he would have been as hungry as he proved in this series back then. With both Murali Vijay and KL Rahul batting as if in lost island, Agarwal stepped up to the challenge. 76 on Boxing Day debut and 77 at Sydney marks a wonderful start to a promising career. Without being too harsh, he must learn to convert the 70s in big hundreds next.

Rishabh Pant, Sydney Test

Sydney: India’s Rishabh Pant celebrates making 100 against Australia on day 2 during their cricket test match in Sydney, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. AP/PTI Photo

Rishabh Pant (7/10): Although he scored a hundred in England, there remained doubts over Pant’s ability at the Test level. He still has a long way to go, especially behind the stumps. But, with 350 runs, including a blistering 159 not out at Sydney, he was the second highest run-scorer in the series, ahead of Kohli. That says a lot. He also registered 20 dismissals with the gloves, and his verbal battle with Tim Paine has become stuff of legend. The future’s bright for Pant, if he can keep his wits about him.

Mohammed Shami (7/10): The workhorse of the Indian bowling attack, Shami once again proved his worth to the team. He six-wicket haul at Perth may have been in vain but he was relentless with his line and length throughout, keeping the Aussie batsmen on their toes, and getting the crucial breakthroughs. His 16 wickets in the series were worth a lot more.

Virat Kohli Border-Gavaskar Trophy

India’s captain Virat Kohli kisses the Border-Gavaskar trophy as the Indian team celebrates their series win on the fifth day of the fourth and final cricket Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on January 7, 2019. (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)

Virat Kohli (6/10): By his towering standards, Kohli’s numbers were underwhelming – 282 runs at an average of 40 with a solitary hundred and one fifty. But, in an ironic way, it was a positive, as it proved Indian batting is no longer a one-man show. Kohli’s aggressive antics continue to polarise opinions. That said, no one can grudge him his moment of glory following the heartbreaks in South Africa and England.

Kuldeep Yadav (6/10): Coming in for the final Test as India went with an extra spinner at Sydney, the left-arm spinner made an impact right away, unlike the horror he faced in England. Testing the inexperienced Aussie batsmen, Yadav bamboozled them with his variations, picking up a five-for in his maiden Test in Australia, forcing the Aussies to follow-on at home for the first time in three decades.

Also Read: 10 records to know about from India’s historic Test series victory over Australia

Ravindra Jadeja (6/10): After shockingly being left out of Perth even after Ravichandran Ashwin was injured, the all-rounder returned to make a mark in the last two Tests. He picked up wickets at crucial moments both at Adelaide and Sydney and also enjoyed himself with the bat, slamming 81 in the final Test with no pressure around.

Ishant Sharma (5/10): Once the spearhead of the Indian team, Ishant did not have an exceptional tour but his performances can’t be termed bad either. While he claimed only 11 wickets in three Tests before missing the final one due to fitness issues, he kept things extremely tight and did not let the game drift away, which explains why he ended up with an average of 23.81.

Ajinkya Rahane, Border-Gavaskar Trophy

India’s batsman Ajinkya Rahane walks off after being dismissed by Australia’s Nathan Lyon on the third day of the second cricket Test match in Perth on December 16, 2018. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

Ajinkya Rahane (5/10): It was another disappointing tour for India’s vice-captain. He got half-centuries at Adelaide and Perth but the long-wanted hundred remained elusive. There were starts in the other Tests but no conversion. It is soon getting to that stage when sooner or later India might have to take a stern call on Rahane. That would mean missing out on a great pair of hands in the field though.

Hanuma Vihari (4/10): He was thrown into the deep end, tried to swim his way out of trouble, albeit unsuccessfully. There was no lack of effort though. He gave it all he had while asked to open, and managed to see off the new ball though the runs were not there to show. Vihari’s 42 at Sydney was impressive but his dismissal disappointing. India must persist with him though for there’s enough potential visible with the right attitude.

Rohit Sharma (4/10): Another disappointing Test series for Rohit Sharma. He played an atrocious shot to get out in Adelaide and failed in the second innings. The Mumbai batsman, currently celebrating the birth of his daughter, came back well with an unbeaten half-century at Melbourne. To succeed though he needs to fine-tune his attitude for Test cricket.

Ravichandran Ashwin (3/10): He played a crucial role at Adelaide, claiming six wickets as India went 1-0 up in the series. However, like England, he picked up an injury and did not play any further part in the series. Disappointing!

Lokesh Rahul, Border-Gavaskar Trophy

India’s Lokesh Rahul indicates that he did not take a catch to dismiss Australia’s Usman Khawaja during the third day’s play of the fourth and final cricket Test between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 5, 2019. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)

KL Rahul (2/10): The only reason Rahul will be remembered for this series is for not claiming a catch and drawing an applause from the umpire. Batting wise, he did little of note apart from the 44 at Adelaide and became a troll favourite on social media.

Murali Vijay (1/10): Another atrocious tour for Vijay, managing just 49 runs in four innings. He had little idea where his off-stump was. With Agarwal making a mark, we may have seen the last of Vijay.

Umesh Yadav (1/10): Yadav continues to deceive, shining at home but struggling abroad. He was part of the four-pronged pace attack at Perth. The fast bowler looked completely out of sync, managing just two wickets and not threatening at all.