India vs Australia | Winners and Losers ft. Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin and Mitchell Starc

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India vs Australia | Winners and Losers ft. Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin and Mitchell Starc

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Bastab K Parida

01/08/2019

India secured a 2-1 series victory over Australia - a first to end their 71-year-long wait - and made it a day to remember for all Indian cricket fans. While Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal emerged as the clear winners, Mitchell Starc turned out to be the biggest disappointment for the hosts.

Winners

Rishabh Pant

The series is an anomaly for more reasons than one. Looking back at the history, when India took Parthiv Patel to Australia in 2003-04, it was seen as a desperate attempt to have a wicket-keeper in the team with the ability to hold the bat like a batsman. Despite an impressive start, Parthiv Patel's career could never take off due to a number of factors, but it seems Rishabh Pant is destined for bigger and grander things. His jovial approach to Test batting is strangely different yet fresh at a time India failed to adapt unorthodoxy as the order of the day. His approach to the batting seems very much genuine and based on a simple principle of being in present. More importantly, he didn’t let any pressure get the better of him and score that magnificent unbeaten 159 to become the first Indian wicket-keeper to score a century in Australia. In the form of him, India finally has a wicket-keeper who can claim to have the quality of a cricketer to do genuinely well in the overseas conditions.

Mayank Agarwal

Each and every time a new player comes along, there is a sense of ambitiousness in Indian cricket. The dawn of Mayank Agarwal was no different either after the failures of KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, and Murali Vijay. However, Agarwal was a clam entity in the last two matches and belied his almost hyperactive character to score two fifties and one 42 in the series. When he travelled England with the India A team last year, he over-anticipated the ball to move in the air and the anxiety got the better of him as he was dismissed for zero twice. In Australia, the ball doesn't swing that much and most Aussie seamers are dependent on seaming and angling the ball off the pitch to trouble the batsmen. Agarwal was quick to understand that and played away from his body to be the most fluent batsman in the Test. A big career awaits him where he will have a lot of challenges in front of him, but this challenge, let me tell you, wasn’t easy at all.

 © Getty

Losers

Ravichandran Ashwin

So much has already been talked about Ravichandran Ashwin and his worrying wastefulness in overseas conditions. However, he lifted himself up in Adelaide by using the sponginess of the surface that came from his ability to grip the Kookaburra better than he did in the past. While Ashwin made sure that he didn't let his line or length alter too much as there was lack of turn available on those conditions, he ensured that the stodginess of the surface was exploited to an extent that the opposition batsmen would suffer to no end. While that was an impressive display of sorts, Kuldeep did go one step ahead in Sydney by picking up a fifer. The problem here is not with Kuldeep’s performance alone, rather Ashwin’s lack of fitness that has been a regular feature now. His continuous injury helped Ravindra Jadeja make a comeback and then helped Kuldeep get the things he desired all the while, and now the question is - can India trust him again? It was not some impact injury and given Ashwin is no more a part of the limited-overs set-up, what was ailing him time and time again? Certainly, he is at the fag end of his career and regular influx of injuries would prove vital for him and helpful for other spinners.

Mitchell Starc

After India won the first Test in Adelaide, Alyssa Healy, Australian women’s cricketer and Mitchell Starc’s wife, put out a sarcastic tweet criticising Mitchell Johnson who stated that Starc was not in a good headspace. While Johnson’s questions met him a lot of flak on Twitter, his questions became harder to ignore as Starc failed to live up to his gargantuan level of expectations as the series progressed. In the last series, the Aussie pace spearhead took 13 wickets at an average of 34.53, which was a plain contrast to his performance in the last summer's Ashes series where he picked up 22 wickets at an average of 23.54. So, what is ailing him now? Gone are those days when in the most difficult of those conditions, Starc would come to Steve Smith and ask him to give him few overs. It was a menacing lanky figure brimmed with confidence, but ever since he took 9 wickets in the Durban Test, his body language tells a different story. The rise of Pat Cummins as Tim Paine’s go-to bowler doesn’t help the cause for him as he seems so distant from the battle and mind at a different place. 

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