Result: India win at Ferozshah Kotla (Delhi) by 6 wickets
Series Result: India beats Australia 4-0
For the first time in cricket history, India won a test series 4-0. That it was an India-Australia Border-Gavaskar series, only adds to the achievement- and for once, it wasn’t India at the receiving end of a whitewash.
For the first time in 43 years, Australia were at the receiving end of a whitewash. That does not automatically make them the worst Australian touring team ever (remember: they were one win away from no. 1 a few months ago against SA), but it does raise questions about their future- the same ones India were faced with after the retirement of VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid. Ironically, it was the outster of India’s most successful Opening pair- Sehwag and Gambhir- that gave them the much needed boost at the top of the order, propelling them to a crushing series win in which they crossed 500 thrice in 4 tests.
The report card, therefore, will make for good reading as a long-suffering Indian fan:
Shikhar Dhawan (8/10)
Game, set and match- Mohali. The sole reason for an unlikely third consecutive test victory, after en entire day of play was washed out. His injury though, made sure that he averages 187 in the series.
Murali Vijay (8/10)
His temperament will come back into question after his daft reverse sweep on a crumbling Kotla pitch while chasing 155. But his technique and class cannot be questioned after Vijay ended the series as top-scorer amongst both teams at a 60+ average- where he looked comfortable after his twin failures at Chennai.
Ajinkya Rahane (3/10)
Doesn’t look cut out for test cricket yet after being mauled and tested at Kotla. Back to the bench. Even his bat-pad expertise can’t get him back into the team.
Cheteshwar Pujara (9/10)
Another home series, another 400+ aggregate. He is enjoying himself at the top, and he replicated his debut effort against Australia on Sunday at Delhi, this time, while opening the innings. He made the pitch seem harmless, and put to rest any doubts about the gap Dravid left. Was shaky at bat-pad though, needs more experience there.
Sachin Tendulkar (5/10)
Just for participating in a historic series, he deserves credit. After Chennai though, he didn’t look the part at all- and struggled against the spinners during the final test. Lyon had his number, and for the first time since 1999, his average dipped below 54. A disaster for the stats-obsessed Indian fans, indeed. Will he be there for South Africa? Only time (and common sense) will tell.
Virat Kohli (6/10)
His aggression, often misplaced, came at the right time at the Kotla. The Aussies were getting too big for their own small boots, and one needed a Kohli and Jadeja to give it back. He will be disappointed with his own batting temperament though, after getting starts throughout and failing to finish.
MS Dhoni (7.5/10)
Finally, some redemption after a tough 2 years that wouldn’t have seen any other captain survive. That he was proactive, backing his favorite youngsters, finally paid dividends. We prefer the more expressive MSD 2.0, as demonstrated against Clarke’s clueless Aussies.
Ravindra Jadeja (8/10)
The trump card of the series. Ashwin’s spin-twin, replacing an underconfident Ojha at the top. Who would have thought? 24 wickets at less than 20, and a crucial 40 in the last test confirmed him for the South African tour- as a bowling all rounder, reminding us of the Irfan Pathan days.
R. Ashwin (9/10)
The best part about Ashwin this series is that he did not make a single decent contribution with the bat- unlike against England, where he misunderstood his role. He is a bowler first, and proved it once again- with a jaw dropping 29 wickets for the series at 20. India definitely isn’t missing his batting. Harbhajan Singh RIP.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (6.5/10)
Played India’s lone swing bowler with distinction- getting some crucial top order wickets at Mohali and Hyderabad. Getting rid of Zaheer Khan at the right time is what the new selectors have done best. Their hitlist so far: Zaheer, Sehwag, Gambhir, Harbhajan. One to go.
Ishant Sharma (5/10)
The ‘unlucky’ tag can’t be used an excuse for too long. Though he did manage to break through a couple of times in Delhi and Mohali, he was still far from the strike bowling strength that India needs in South Africa. Was a threat whenever he bowled at the stumps.
Pragyan Ojha (5.5/10)
Struggled in his new role as a container. Got plenty of spin at Kotla, but Jadeja’s flatness (Kumble) did the trick better. He may not be India’s premier left-arm spinner anymore. Still a better option than Harbhajan Singh, though.
Harbhajan Singh (3/10)
Was toothless in the first two tests- dropped for Ojha soon after. His career could be over, and his batting brainfades didn’t help either.