New Delhi: Team India has taken the lead in the 5-match Test series against England after winning the 2nd Test at Visakhapatnam by a huge margin of 246 runs. This victory was a result of a complete team performance with captain Virat Kohli and premier bowler Ravichandran Ashwin leading from the front.
Here's CricketNext's Report Card of Team India for the second Test where we evaluate the performance of each player:
Murali Vijay - Rating 4: Verdict: Poor
After scoring his first Test century in over a year in Rajkot, Murali Vijay had a disappointing outing at Vizag. While he was dismissed for 20 by an absolute beauty from James Anderson in the first innings, in the second innings he departed early after getting an inside edge off a Stuart Broad delivery. For a man who has the task of building a solid foundation for the team, this was a let down.
KL Rahul - Rating 2: Verdict: Very Poor
Drafted into the playing XI in place of Gautam Gambhir, KL Rahul had the necessary backing of the team management for a man who was making a comeback from injury. But the youngster failed to make the most of the opportunity as he was dismissed for a duck in the first innings and 10 in the second innings. Both dismissals were to deliveries outside the off-stump as Rahul looked scrappy with his technique. For someone who started out as a pure Test batsman, Rahul has made the transition to become a stroke-maker in the shorter formats. But that shouldn't mean he forgets his core strengths (read a good defence and ability to leave deliveries outside the off-stump)
Cheteshwar Pujara - Rating: 8 Verdict: Very Good
The Saurashtra batsman continued his sublime form as he scored a century for the third consecutive Test match. Pujara's knock of 119 in the first innings and his third-wicket partnership of 226 runs with Virat Kohli laid the foundation of India's big first innings score. A true Pujara fan will have only one more demand, bring back the mammoth centuries. If there is one man who deserves a triple century in Test cricket from this current Indian team, it is none other than Pujara.
Virat Kohli: Rating 10: Verdict: Exceptional
Coming in to bat at 22/2 in the first innings after deciding to bat first on winning the toss, the captain knew he had to prove himself right. Virat Kohli produced a master-class in his 50th Test match. His innings of 167 was the cornerstone of India's first innings total of 455 runs. While his first innings century was top quality stuff, it was his knock of 81 in the second innings which stood out. On a fourth day pitch with all the other batsmen struggling, Virat Kohli showcased just why is he considered as one of the best batsmen of the current generation, as played shots with aplomb and hardly looked in a spot of bother. His knock helped India set a 400-plus target for England to chase. Even while captaining the team, Kohli showed great presence of mind and composure to make the right bowling changes and take good DRS calls against an English side, which refuses to throw in the towel. More power to Team India's 'Superman'.
Ajinkya Rahane: Rating: 3 Verdict: Poor
Ajinkya Rahane had a poor outing in Rajkot and he wanted to make amends for it. At Vizag, Rahane looked more assured and got starts in both the innings, but gave away his wicket when he was in the twenties. India is currently relying heavily on Pujara and Virat to get the bulk of the runs, but if they don't fire then the team will be in trouble. Hence, it is necessary for Rahane to get back amongst the runs if India are to continue playing with 5 batsmen.
Wriddhiman Saha: Rating: 4 Verdict: Below Average
While he continues to be solid behind the stumps,which is his primary duty in the team, the management also expects Wriddhiman Saha to contribute with the bat since the team in playing with only 5 recognised batsmen. As a batsman Saha had a dismal outing getting dismissed cheaply in both the innings. A side strain means he will be out of the next Test and his replacement Parthiv Patel is a decent batsman. Alarm Bells!
Ravichandran Ashwin: Rating 9: Verdict: Very Good
Ravichandran Ashwin picks up 5-wicket hauls for fun when bowling in India, but England was one team against whom he had not achieved the feat in the previous 7 Tests he had played against the 'Three Lions'. But all that was to change as Ashwin proved his worth against a top quality batting side, picking up 5 crucial wickets in the first innings to help India get a 200-run lead. Ashwin's victims included the likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes, who proved to be a thorn in India's flesh in the first Test. The planning for Root's dismissal was something which stood out. Ashwin was instrumental in initiating England's collapse in the second innings too as he broke the opening partnership by dismissing the impressive Haseeb Hameed. The spin wizard ended the match with figures of 8/119. He also scored a half-century in the first innings which allowed India to post a total in excess of 400.
Ravindra Jadeja: Rating: 5 Verdict: Average
Ravindra Jadeja's primary role in the team is of the second spinner and the left-arm orthodox bowler finished the match with 3 wickets. While Ashwin's brilliance meant Jadeja was not required to do much, but the all-rounder needs to do more in order to support Ashwin. His batting too has been disappointing in this series so far. Time for 'Sir Jadeja' to keep up with his sobriquet.
Jayant Yadav: Rating: 7 Verdict: Good
The off-spinner made a grand debut in Test cricket as he impressed with his bowling, batting as well as fielding. Yadav, who replaced Amit Mishra in the playing XI as the third spinner picked up the crucial wicket of first Test centurion Moeen Ali in the first innings. He ended the match with 4 wickets after picking up the last 2 English wickets in the second innings to give finishing touches to India's victory. But what impressed the pundits most was his attitude while batting. Resolute in defence and copybook in his strokeplay, Yadav batted with grit and skill as he scored 35 in the first innings and an unbeaten 27 in the second. Both the knocks were crucial as they helped the Indian tail wag and add crucial runs. The debutant also showed great presence of mind to affect the run out of Haseeb Hameed in the first innings.
Mohammed Shami: Rating: 7 Verdict: Good
When playing in India, you need the pacemen to make an impact with the new ball and Mohammad Shami did just that. He bowled a beauty of a delivery to get rid of dangerman Alastair Cook early in the first innings. The dismissal was a spectacle as it not only breached Cook's famed defence but also managed to break his off stump into half. He then picked up the crucial wicket of Joe Root in the second innings to open the floodgates for India. A patient knock of 19 in the second innings by the speedster meant he and Jayant Yadav put on 42 runs for the last wicket, which helped India set a 400-plus target for England.
Umesh Yadav: Rating: 6 Verdict: Above Average
Umesh Yadav bowled with a big heart and that is what you need from pacers on sub-continental wickets. Yadav picked up the crucial wicket of Jonny Bairstow in the first innings after the English wicket-keeper had put on a century stand with Ben Stokes. Umesh's raw pace was too much for Bairstow as the delivery crashed into the stumps. Another important contribution was the catch of Joe Root in the first innings, for which the paceman had to track back a considerable amount of distance to pouch the ball safely.