A 4-1 scoreline doesn’t reflect greatly on India, but for significant passages across the five-match series, the visitors more than held their own. The standout batsman, across both teams, was the Indian captain Virat Kohli, while the visiting fast bowlers often out-paced the home side’s.
Yet, India failed to clinch the big moments, repeatedly, across the five matches, and it is ultimately what rendered all their promise irrelevant. It is a failure that is reflected in our ratings of each member of the Indian side that took the field over five Tests.
Murali Vijay: 1
The opener was among India’s most impressive players in 2014, but this time around, he seemed to betray his principles – no longer was he watchful outside off. Instead, he went fishing. That’s not a great way to open an innings in England – Vijay managed scores of 20, 6, 0 and 0 in his four outings, before being dropped from the XI and then the squad.
Shikhar Dhawan: 4
Dropped after the first Test only to return for the third in Nottingham, Dhawan had a curious series. He was involved in the two 60-run opening partnerships at Trent Bridge that laid crucial platforms for India’s only win on tour, but the 44 he scored there was his highest in six innings. India could have desperately used more from their dashing opener.
KL Rahul: 6
One of the Indians to play all five Tests, Rahul played both as an opener and at No.3 during the course of the series, but it wasn’t until his final innings at The Oval that he really came good, scoring a fine, counter-attacking 149 during the course of which India had realistic hopes of making it 2-3. As good as that knock was, it is important to keep in mind it all came a little too late. More was expected sooner of one of India’s more dynamic players. That said, he was stellar in the slip cordon, one of the heroes of India’s Trent Bridge win with seven catches, some of them stunners.
Cheteshwar Pujara: 6
Pujara had a slow start to the series. After being overlooked for the first Test, his scores of 1 and 17 at Lord’s gave the sense of a man under too much pressure to retain his spot. That escalated after his 14 in the first innings in Nottingham, but his gritty 72 in the second innings played a big role in India’s win, and he followed that up with a heroic 132 in Southampton. India need him to keep his levels up.
Virat Kohli: 9
Easily the best batsman in the series, across both teams. Kohli ended up at the top of the run charts, with 593 runs at 59.3, despite managing a rare duck in his final innings. He repeatedly frustrated the England players, none more so than Jimmy Anderson, who failed to dismiss him all series. Kohli ensured his poor streak in 2014 will never be spoken of again, and justified his No.1 ranking among Test batsmen. He still loses a point, though, for his captaincy, which has room for improvement.
Ajinkya Rahane: 5
Another Indian batsman to start slow. Rahane managed 15, 2, 18 and 13 in his first four innings before scoring an imperative 81 in the first innings at Trent Bridge. He followed it up with a 51 in the second innings in Southampton, although as India’s recognised overseas big-game player, you could argue he needed to see the chase through in what would have been a series-levelling win.
Ravichandran Ashwin: 4
After an explosive start at Edgbaston, where he picked up seven wickets after consistently troubling the left-hand English batsmen, Ashwin managed just four in the rest of the series. That was in stark contrast to what Moeen Ali managed in Southampton alone – nine wickets, where Ashwin managed just three. Is he, 32 later this month, on the wane?
Dinesh Karthik: 2
Karthik arrived on tour amidst much hype, and was expected to take an excellent opportunity to make the wicket-keeper batsman role his own, what with Wriddhiman Saha sidelined with injury. However, in four outings, he managed two ducks and a one, and the 20 he managed in the second innings at Edgbaston was the high point of the tour for him. His wicket-keeping left a lot to be desired too.
Rishabh Pant: 6
The 20-year-old replaced Karthik as the wicket-keeper, and while he did all right behind the stumps, his batting took a while to get going. Pant was known for his big scores in the domestic circuit back home, but even accounting for the vastly different conditions in England, none of his fearless spirit was in evidence with the bat till his very last outing in the series, when he scored a 146-ball 114. That bodes well for the future, though, and he is one India must invest in.
Hardik Pandya: 5
Throughout the series, experts – Michael Holding among them – questioned Pandya’s place in the side. At Trent Bridge, he returned 5-28 and scored a half-century, but that apart, his performances didn’t quite do enough to dispel the questions. Is he the all-rounder India need overseas? Or will they have to look elsewhere? The management will soon have to figure out the Pandya conundrum.
Mohammed Shami: 7
Almost all the Indian pacemen excelled, and Shami was one of them. He ended the tour with 16 wickets, eight wickets off Jimmy Anderson, who was the highest wicket-taker in the series with 24 wickets. Shami could have had a few more, but there were quite a few occasions, especially in the final Test at The Oval, when he beat batsmen consistently without drawing the nick.
Ishant Sharma: 8
Sharma is India’s most experienced pacemen, and he loves England. There was a blistering spell in India’s victory at Lord’s in 2014, and this time around, he showed plenty of maturity in leading the line and claiming 18 wickets. His height gives the impression he is a hit-the-deck bowler, but in this series, he showed immense ability to move the ball. He was superb.
Jasprit Bumrah: 8
The Indian attack was good, but gave the impression it was missing something till Bumrah recovered from his injury and joined the side for the third Test. His express pace, unorthodox action, and the ability to move the ball both in and out helped him to 14 Test wickets in just three matches at 25.92. Had he played the first two matches as well, the outcome of the series could have, perhaps, been different.
Umesh Yadav: 3
He played just the one match on tour, the first one in Birmingham. He was expensive in the first innings, claiming one wicket for 56 runs, and though he returned 2-20 in the second, he hadn’t impressed enough. He was replaced by Kuldeep Yadav in the second Test, and once Bumrah returned to fitness, he never got a go.
Kuldeep Yadav: 1
Following his performances in the limited-overs matches that preceded the Tests – he flummoxed batsmen considerably in coloured clothing – there were a lot of expectations on his 23-year-old shoulders when he was included in the XI at Lord’s. But he bombed. There were nine overs, in which he conceded 44 runs and failed to take a wicket. He was dropped from the XI for the next Test, and the squad for the last two Tests.
G Hanuma Vihari: 6
The 24-year-old has been knocking on the Test doors for a while now, and at The Oval, with little to lose, the management handed him a debut. He didn’t disappoint. A gritty half-century in the first innings, a knock in which he grew in confidence, was a good way to begin his Test career. He was out for a duck in the second innings, though, but despite that, he could be one for the future. Not to forget, he ended Alastair Cook’s career by having him caught behind.
Ravindra Jadeja: 6
He waited over a month to get a go, and with the series conceded, he finally got an outing. He put in a performance that perhaps had the management wondering why they hadn’t used him sooner. Jadeja picked seven wickets in the match, and scored a solid 86* in the first innings. The standard he brings to the field merits special mention too. If one had to nit-pick, you could say he should have done better on the final day of the series, and fought for a draw.