India confirmed a spot in the World Test Championship final by beating England 3-1 in the Anthony de Mello Trophy thanks to a combined team effort and the brilliance of the spinner. We, at SportsCafe, have decided to make things easier for you and Grade every Indian player’s performance.
Rohit Sharma - A+
The only batsman who was head and shoulder above everyone in the Test series. After an uncharacteristic beginning to the series in Chennai, on a minefield of a wicket in Chennai he showed why he is considered as one of the best Test players in the world at the moment. If the 161, as Virat Kohli said, was the defining moment for India in the series, his batting progressively got better to help India to a winnable total in almost all the matches. Nothing other than the top grade would suffice.
Shubman Gill - E
His 50 in the second innings of the first Test was the work of a batsman in the zone but that was all about it. He was a walking wicket following heroics in Chennai and never ever looked convincing. One can cut him some slack for everyone struggling on this wicket but solely on the basis of his performances, we have him in our Grade E.
Cheteshwar Pujara - E
In Australia, Pujara’s contributions were measured on a different currency, but in India, when runs determine the progress, the Saurashtra man failed to deliver. In the next five innings after his 73 in Chennai, the No.3 could only manage 60 runs in total and looked all at sea against Jack Leach. A rare failure at home, but hey, we are fair with E, right?
Virat Kohli - D
Virat Kohli scored only 172 runs in a four-match Test series at home!!!! You’d be forgiven for thinking you are reading a great fantasy book but such was the predicament of the Indian skipper! While his two half-centuries in the series were the art of a man determined to bail the team out of the woods, in other times, he was undone after a great start.
Ajinkya Rahane - C
The reason I kept Ajinkya Rahane in the C and not in D or E, is simply because of his outstanding fielding. The Indian No.5 continued his disappointing run of form at home to average a minuscule 18.66 in the series. Credit is due as far as his partnership against Rohit Sharma in Chennai is concerned but otherwise, he was a walking wicket.
Rishabh Pant (wk) - A+
The Real star of the series. His 101 in the fourth Test was probably one of the finest counter-attacking innings in India in recent times but that was not the only one. His mauling of Jack Leach in Chennai would give any spinners a nightmare on the flat decks and Pant continued that in different forms and sizes. A delight to watch behind the stumps and his quips were full of form and novelty. The perfect entertainer.
Tell me honestly, you were in shock when Siraj exposed all his stumps to Stokes and then walked back to the pavilion, leaving Washington Sundar stranded without a ton. He was all grit and determination, but a century evaded him as many as twice this series with him being unbeaten on 85 and 96. With the ball, he played a small part but what a treat he was to the eye otherwise!
Ravichandran Ashwin - A+
The only player in the history of cricket to have taken 30+ wickets and score a century in a four-match series, R Ashwin stood tall to be the major differentiator. His off-spin was too hard to pick for the Englishmen as Ashwin played possibly the best cricket of his career to secure the 400th Test wickets to set himself amongst the legends of world cricket.
Shahbaz Nadeem - D
It is a shame that Shahbaz Nadeem, a domestic workhorse, might have already played his last international match after the performance in Chennai. Given a lifeline after Axar Patel’s last-moment injury, Nadeem had a torrid time adapting. His long hops on a regular basis were decimated by Joe Root and Co for India's second home loss in 9 years. D grade is only because he got two fishes in the market.
Ishant Sharma - B
The only pacer in the series to have played all four Tests, Ishant was oscillating between two extremes but given the nature of pitches, you could hardly fault him. In the first and fourth Tests, it needed him to don the workhorse hat after an almost rest-Test in Ahmedabad but you have to respect the fact that he averaged 26.66 on such wickets.
Jasprit Bumrah - B
The series was a classic reminder of the fact that why India is better off without the talismanic pacer in home conditions to manage his workload. It is not that Bumrah doesn’t fit the conditions, but where he doesn’t need to be the major differentiator, there is no need for him to run to the ground. He is too valuable for India in the limited-overs format as well as the Tests overseas.
Mohammed Siraj - A
Siraj stepped in the fourth Test as a proper like-to-like replacement for Umesh Yadav by generating a decent amount of swing and showed promise for the future. If the Australia series was a fine admission, Siraj graduated with flying colours in the England series and might become one of the prominent names for the World Test Championship final.
Axar Patel : A+
Will there ever be another debut like this? Perhaps not as Axar scalped four five-wicket hauls in six innings to go with another four-wicket burst. His gritty 43 in the last Ahmedabad Test was a tribute to his resilience. He was the real revelation for the Indian team this series. But it’s a shame that we might not see much of him once Jadeja returns to the setup.
Kuldeep Yadav - B
The leggie went on to play his first Test in two years and was used as a spare third bowler with Ashwin and Axar taking over the bulk of the things. Yadav had his sweet impact whenever he was thrown the ball but now he might have to sulk it once again with Axar performing the way he did.