India came back to level the Test series 1-1, after a thrilling encounter in Bangalore. Having been dismissed cheaply for 189 in the first innings, despite winning the toss, India produced a phenomenal bowling performance in the fourth innings to secure an unlikely 75-run win. India’s start to the series has been shaky and the batting unit has been prone to severe collapses, with the Australian spinners looking especially threatening. This article looks back at each of India’s players in the last Test and considers what changes India should consider making for the third Test in Ranchi.
Lokesh Rahul: 9/10
An inspired performance from Indian opener Lokesh Rahul, as he recorded a fifty in both innings. When India were crumbling on the first day, Rahul stood firm and played an exceptionally mature innings to steer India to a semi-respectable total. His 90 was invaluable and he managed to occupy the crease for an exceptionally long period of 205 deliveries, which made a change from his naturally aggressive game plan. This was great to see, as he had come under criticism recently for being too much of a limited overs player, but this will no doubt quash those feelings. He played an equally important role in the second innings, where he notched a solid 51 on a pitch which was rapidly deteriorating. Notably, Rahul excelled in rotating the strike well, an ended up keeping the scoreboard ticking over. Moreover, he did well to shield Pujara from Nathan Lyon earlier on in the innings, as he manipulated the strike carefully. Overall, it was a comprehensive performance from the man of the match and he appears to be the answer to India’s long standing dilemma of who should be India’s regular opener.
Abhinav Mukund: 1/10
The return of Abhinav Mukund to the Test side came as a shock to numerous fans, and it must be said that he is extremely fortunate to have been given another chance. Mukund had last played for India in their 2011 tour of India and had a relatively strong Ranji Trophy season. Nevertheless, many felt that Parthiv Patel should have been included, or the upcoming Shreyas Iyer, who hit a double hundred in the warm up match. Indeed, Mukund did look out of his depth agains this fierce Australian attack. He departed without scoring in the first innings, after he missed a yorker from Mitchell Starc and contributed a very sketchy 16 in the second. It was a rather strange innings of 16, as he scored ten off his runs from a six of Mitchell Starc and another boundary, but only managed six runs in thirty deliveries. He didn’t seem to be able to pick the gaps regularly and ended up getting bogged down. Mukund appeared to be out of his depth and all we can hope is that he isn’t picked for the Third Test.
Cheteshwar Pujara: 8/10
As we have seen throughout India’s home season, Cheteshwar Pujara is a consistent performer. It must be said that he looked uncomfortable at the start of his innings, as he visibly struggled in reading the tricky pitch. When Pujara doesn’t score runs, he is known for being able to occupy the crease for long periods of time. He did this in the first innings, where he battled hard for 66 balls and provided India with a sense of calm after losing such an early wicket. However, his second innings performance is what has earned him this high rating. His spirited knock of 92, the highest in the match, took India to their total of 274 as he was involved in a 118 run stand with Ajinkya Rahane. He overcame his early nerves and settled down well, making batting look easy on what was a poor pitch. Without his calm performance, India would not have been in any position to win the Test.
Virat Kohli (C): 3/10
Unfortunately it was another poor batting performance from India’s captain Virat Kohli. Before this series, Kohli was in exceptional form, having hit a double hundred in each of his last four series. However, he has looked completely out of sorts so far against Australia, as he erred in his judgement drastically. In the first innings, he left a straight delivery from Nathan Lyon and was given out LBW, showing the same trouble in reading the spinners as in the First Test. His scores of 12 and 15 wasn’t the contribution everyone was expecting him to make, and he has now come under some serious pressure. But there is one thing we now for sure, whenever Kohli comes under criticism he always responds on the pitch.
In terms of his captaincy, Kohli had a rather successful game. He managed his bowlers well and it was great to see him have faith in his seamers, who duly rewarded him. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav bowled long spells, bowling 51 overs between them in the first innings. On the whole his fields were aggressive, but at some times he appeared to be too conservative with the field for his spinners, as he employed an in-out field straight away for Ashwin. It would have been better to have seen him bring up the long-on to a mid-on, to encourage the Australian batsmen to try and hit him over the top.
Ajinkya Rahane: 7/10
India’s number five, Ajinkya Rahane, was under immense pressure heading into this series, but has no doubt alleviated most of it with a great second innings performance in this Test. Prior to this series, Rahane had struggled against England as he only managed 26 runs in the three Test matches he played. Yet, his performance in Bangalore was a return to the Ajinkya Rahane of old, who thrived in hostile conditions. His 52 in the second innings, sharing in a key partnership with Pujara, steered India to a position in which they were able to build a sizeable lead, and stood up when India needed him most. He held the middle order firm, rescuing India from the precarious position of 120-4 and departed with a score of 238 on the board. On a very unpredictable pitch, Rahane showed his class and hopefully this return to form will last throughout the series.
Karun Nair: 2/10
It was always going to be tough for Karun Nair to live up to his reputation, after he smashed an unbeaten triple century against England in the last Test he played. His dream start to his India career took a reality check, as he managed 26 in the first innings, before being dismissed for a golden duck in the second. Nair never truly looked settled at the crease, as he failed to reach the pitch off the ball in the first innings and was bowled after playing a horrendously loose shot in the second. After the perfect start to his Test career, Nair has been given a proper baptism to Test cricket and it will be interesting to see how he responds.
Wriddhiman Saha (WK): 7/10
Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha had an average batting performance, but his skilled glove work was the highlight of his performance. As mentioned before, the Bangalore pitch did not hold up well, as it offered inconsistent bounce and sharp turn from as early as day 1. Yet, Saha looked in his element behind the stumps, as he managed to take most deliveries cleanly. His diving catch to dismiss Wade in the second innings was a particular highlight, along with a quick stumping to remove Renshaw in the first. Saha’s cameo of 20* in the second innings was a handy contribution as well, as he guided the tail. It must be said that Saha has done an exceptional job in filling the large boots left by Indian legend MS Dhoni.
Ravichandran Ashwin: 8/10
While Ravichandran Ashwin’s batting has been disappointing of late, the same cannot be said of his bowling. His 6-41 in the second innings tore aport the Australian batting unit, and he spun India to victory yet again. However, his 2-84 in the first innings was equally important in my opinion. In that innings, Ashwin bowled a mammoth 49 overs, and still only went for an economy of around 1.7. This applied constant pressure on the Australian batsmen and he tied up one end for a long period of time. As a result of this relentless pressure, the Australian batsmen felt frustrated at times and suffered from rare lapses of concentration. We have come to expect so much from the off-spinner, and he did not disappoint with the ball once again. The same cannot be said about his batting. Scores of 7 and 4 do not do justice to how good a batsmen he is, and as a result he has slipped down to second in the Test all-rounder rankings, behind Bangladeshi Shakib Al-Hasan. Hopefully Ashwin will be able to return to the form with the bat we saw him in against the West Indies and England.
Ravindra Jadeja: 8/10
Another top performance from spinner Ravindra Jadeja, as he took a crucial 6-63 in the first innings. He set up Matt Renshaw cleverly, and showed just how skilful a bowler he is as he used all of his variations. Like Ashwin, Jadeja was also extremely miserly, notably in the second innings where he only conceded three runs in eight overs, picking up a wicket as well. He made the most of the spin-friendly conditions and this bowling performance has propelled him to be the joint number one Test bowler in the world, along with his colleague Ashwin. His batting was poor, and he was actually promoted all the way up the order to number five in the second innings, in an attempt to combat the Aussie spinners. The gamble didn’t pay off, but his amazing bowling showing has somewhat relegated the importance of his weak batting performance.
Umesh Yadav: 7/10
Overall, it was an incredible performance from the Indian seamers. They bowled with discipline across both innings and hit all the right areas. Umesh Yadav put in a huge shift, bowling economically for long periods of time and he picked up three wickets in this Test. He managed to get the ball to talk early on, making the most of the invariable bounce to put some doubt in the batsmen’s mind. He claimed the big scalp of Steve Smith in the second innings, which gave India the momentum to go on and skittle the rest of the Aussie side. This was one of the best performances Yadav has put in for a while and will no doubt provide the Indian selectors with lots of confidence.
Ishant Sharma: 8/10
The most experienced of India’s seamers, Ishant Sharma led from the front in a convincing display. Ishant was able to consistently beat the bat and was extremely lucky in terms of taking the edge, only for the ball not to carry to the slips. He was a constant threat, with his economy of 1.77 in the first innings showing how he was able to build up pressure consistently. He picked up just the two wickets in the Test, but his dismissal of Matt Renshaw in the second innings opened the gates for India and gave them a fighting chance. The statistics do not show just how well Ishant bowled, as he used all of his experience to help India in what was a truly remarkable comeback.