Series Verdict: Captain Kohli & Fast Bowlers Stand Out Among Underperforming Colleagues

Hardik Worah , Cricketnext
"We do not look at this series as something that makes us think we can't play in overseas conditions. Of course we can play, but can we capitalise on the important moments better than the opposition? At the moment, no, we haven't done that, but in future, we want to do that, and that is the only way we win series."

Indian captain Virat Kohli summed it up pretty well. They fought hard throughout the five-match Test series but failed to pounce on those key moments which eventually led to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of England. The scoreline might suggest something else but the home side didn't have it easy. Joe Root and his men had to compete, and compete hard to get the desired outcome.

For India, it was their pacers who always kept them in the game. They bowled with pace and discipline, forcing the cricket fraternity to sit up and take notice. Kohli exorcised the ghosts of 2014 in a way that only he can. There were some fine moments of individual brilliance but India failed to click as a batting unit.

Having already conceded series in Southampton, India stepped out at the Oval aiming to salvage some pride by winning the final Test and ruining Alastair Cook's farewell. They once again had England on the mat in the first innings but allowed the lower-order to run away with the game. Cook and Root scored centuries in the second essay and set India an improbable target. Kohli for once failed, and that was when two young guns KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant put up an exhibition of sublime batting for the crowd who were mostly there to watch Cook one last time at this level. Rahul and Pant gave their best but it was still not enough as England won the match by 118 runs.

India were close, maybe just one step behind England, but a defeat is a defeat. So here's Cricketnext report card of all the Indian players who featured in the series:

KL Rahul - Rating: 5.5, Verdict: Average
Matches 5 | Runs 299

KL Rahul celebrates after completing his century. (AFP)[/caption]

The Karnataka batsman commenced his English sojourn with a scintillating 101* in the first Twenty20 International and ended it with a classy 149 in the fifth Test, but in between, not once could he cross the 50-run mark. Rahul is one of the most highly rated opening batsmen of India's current generation and it's a delight to watch him when in full flow. He looked a completely different batsman at the Oval. Unlike in the first four games, he didn't look tentative and played his natural game. The way he counter-attacked in the fourth innings was impressive. Maybe from now on this is what his approach will be in red-ball cricket. However, India will need Rahul to be more consistent. A batting average of 29.90 in this series doesn't justify the talent that he possesses. He will also have to be more careful against deliveries which come in from the fifth-sixth stump line.

* 1.5 out of 5.5 is for his slip catching.

Shikhar Dhawan - Rating: 2, Verdict: Poor
Matches 4 | Runs 162

(AP Photo)

The left-hander has a terrific record in England when it comes to limited-overs format but the moment he dons the white jersey, he tends to struggle. This was his chance to improve his mediocre record outside Asia in Test cricket, but with scores of 26, 13, 35, 44, 23, 17, 3 and 1, the opener has done nothing but damage his reputation even further. He constantly got starts but not once went on to convert it into something substantial. Despite all the efforts, he struggled big time against James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Dhawan kept going for big cover drives and paid for it as he kept on edging behind the stumps. With Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw waiting in the wings, it won't come as a huge surprise if Dhawan is not picked for the home Test series against Windies.

Murali Vijay - Rating: 1, Verdict: Very Poor
Matches 2 | Runs 26

(Image: AFP)

It was the 2014 tour of England that earned Murali Vijay a reputation of being one of India's best overseas batsmen of the current generation. Fast forward four years - India tour of England, 2018 - Vijay was once again primed to play a significant role, but things didn't quite go as planned for the opener. The 34-year-old only managed scores of 20 and 6 in the first Test, and then bagged a pair at Lord’s before being left out for the third match. He was then dropped from the squad for the last two Tests, making way for Shaw. Now, the road to making a comeback won't be all that easy for the Tamil Nadu opener.

Cheteshwar Pujara - Rating: 5, Verdict: Average
Matches 4 | Runs 278

(Twitter/ ICC)

Pujara looked solid in patches. After failing to make an impact in his first three innings, the No. 3 batsman spent some time in the second innings of the third Test and scored a composed 72. Pujara then stood head and shoulders above the rest in Southampton where he made an unbeaten 132 to keep India in the game. However, he lacked consistency and India needed a bit more from its most reliable Test batsman. Pujara has always had trouble against incoming deliveries and the story was no different in this series. He also developed a habit of poking at deliveries pitched outside off and that too led to his downfall in few innings.

Virat Kohli - Rating 8, Verdict: Very Good
Matches 5 | Runs 593

(Twitter/ ICC)

The 29-year-old couldn't have asked for a better series as a batsman. He literally owned this series with the bat in hand. Apart from two centuries and three fifties, there were also a couple of 40s. Kohli didn't get much support throughout the series and was left to wage the lone battle, and he did that on almost every occasion. There were times when the moment he got out India collapsed. He also won his mini-battle against Anderson who got him out four times in 2014. As a captain, he made some faulty decisions, like dropping Pujara at Edgbaston, including Kuldeep Yadav ahead of Ravindra Jadeja at Lord's, or playing a spinner short in the fourth match. It all ended with a rare duck in his last innings of the English tour, the one he dominated and India didn't.

Ajinkya Rahane - Rating: 4.5, Verdict: Average
Matches 5 | Runs 257

(AP Photo)

After impressing everyone in 2014, Rahane couldn't live up to the expectations this time around. He only managed two fifty-plus scores and finished with a batting average of 25.70. His 81 in the first innings at the Trent Bridge was the only time when he looked in fine touch. He also got starts in few innings but failed to convert it into big scores. Coming in at No. 5, he didn't provide Kohli much support except for two innings. Results might have been different if Rahane and Pujara would have contributed more. India would have liked Rahane to play long innings and bat with the lower-order, which didn't happen. He had a tough time against the deliveries moving away from the fourth stump.

Hanuma Vihari - Rating: 6, Verdict: Average
Matches 1 | Runs 56 | Wickets 3

Image: AFP

The debutant understandably showed signs of nervousness when he came out to bat in the first innings. India were in a spot of bother with Anderson and Broad breathing fire. Vihari somehow managed to survive that phase and went on to score a fifty. He looked calm and played a couple of glorious drives during his stay in the middle. The 24-year-old is known to have a solid temperament and it was on full display at the latter half of his knock. He then picked up three wickets, including those of Root and Cook. A half-century, three-wicket haul, and a duck in the second innings, Vihari experienced it all.

Rishabh Pant - Rating: 6, Verdict: Average
Matches 3 | Runs 162



The dasher from Delhi was in some mood on the final day of the series. India were 121 for 5 when he walked in, and Pant then had a 204-run partnership with Rahul to ensure India didn't go down without a fight. Pant showed a lot of courage and made everyone believe that he belongs at this level, especially after scoring only 48 runs in his first five innings. The left-hander smoked 15 fours and four sixes in his 114-run knock. Pant replaced Dinesh Karthik in the third Test and announced his arrival with a six, exactly like how he got to hundred at the Oval. This knock will give selectors some confidence, and Pant some time to cement his place in the Test side. He, however, will have to work on his keeping considering the number of byes he gave. He took some fine catches but missed a few easy ones.

Dinesh Karthik - Rating: 1, Verdict: Very Poor
Matches 2 | Runs 21



Karthik was included in the side in the absence of regular wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha but was left out of the XI two games later owing to his poor performances. In Birmingham, he was bowled for a duck in the first innings and then failed to make an impact in the second. It didn't really change much in the second Test where he was undone by inswingers from Sam Curran and Broad respectively. Saha will still take close to four months to regain fitness and India might keep Karthik in the squad, but only as a backup to Pant.

Hardik Pandya - Rating: 5, Verdict: Average
Matches 4 | Runs 164 | Wickets 10



The flamboyant all-rounder didn't really have a bad series. His five-wicket haul and 52* in Nottingham were one of the reasons why India managed to pull off a victory. It was quite visible that Pandya was trying to occupy crease rather than smashing from ball one. After his heroics in the third Test, Pandya failed to replicate the same at The Rose Bowl and was dropped for the fifth encounter. The 24-year-old still has age on his side and will only keep getting better. Kohli trusts Pandya and maybe it will help India in the long run.

Ravindra Jadeja - Rating: 7, Verdict: Good
Matches 1 | Runs 99 | Wickets 7



The all-rounder from Jamnagar should have been in the XI from the third Test onwards. The tracks at Trent Bridge and Rose Bowl had enough assistance for the spinners and someone like Jadeja would have come handy. The left-hander is also a decent batsman down the order and showed everone what he can bring to the table in the fifth Test where he replaced R Ashwin. Jadeja scored an unbeaten 86 to take India closer to England's first innings total. He batted intelligently with the tailenders and showed a lot of character. The left-arm spinner also picked up seven wickets in the match, and not to mention, was a live wire on the field. Jadeja is an impact player and deserved much more game time in England.

R Ashwin - Rating: 4, Verdict: Poor
Matches 4 | Runs 126 | Wickets 11



Ashwin slowly faded away after that four-wicket haul in the series opener. In the next three matches, he only picked up four wickets and was also suffering from a hip injury. He aggravated his injury while playing the Test in Southampton and had to sit out in London. On a pitch where Moeen Ali was bamboozling Indian batsmen, Ashwin failed to make the same impact. He didn't do much with the bat too.

Kuldeep Yadav - Rating: 1, Verdict: Very Poor
Matches 1 | Wickets 0



He only bowled nine overs and was taken for 44 runs in the only match that he played. The left-arm wrist spinner found no assistance from the pitch and that allowed the England batsmen to score freely against him. He also bagged a pair in that game. Kuldeep was dropped from the squad after the third Test.

Ishant Sharma - Rating: 7.5, Verdict: Very Good
Matches 5 | Wickets 18



The senior paceman was unswerving throughout the series and returned as the second highest wicket-taker. Ishant bowled long spells and was always there when his team needed him. He also led the pack, and except for one or two occasions, never allowed the England top-order to get going. His ability to move the ball away from around the wicket to left-handers came in very handy. He picked up wickets at crucial times and showcased never-say-die attitude. After almost 10 years of international cricket, Ishant, 30, finally seem to have found the consistency that has evaded him over the years.

Mohammed Shami - Rating: 6.5, Verdict: Good
Matches 5 | Wicket 16



A bowling average of 38.87 - They say that sometimes, stats don't always reveal everything. Shami bowled pretty well in this series and looked fit. It's almost impossible to keep a count on how many times he beat the bat. He always looked like the one who would get you wickets every time he came to bowl. Shami bowled with pace and produced some unplayable deliveries. He bowled his heart out and showed exactly why Kohli and the team management was to keen to have him on-board.

Jasprit Bumrah - Rating: 7.5, Verdict: Good
Matches 3 | Wickets 14



Everytime you see Bumrah with the ball in hand, he looks a slightly improved bowler. His willingness to learn and adapt has made him India's all-format bowler. The 24-year-old missed the first two Tests because of a left thumb fracture, and the moment he regained full-fitness, he was drafted in the XI in Nottingham. He straightaway made an impact by picking up a five-wicket haul and remained consistent in all the three matches that he played. Bumrah bowled long spells and showed no signs of fatigue. He troubled almost every English batsman with his pace and swing. Bumrah seems to have learnt the art of moving the ball both ways and the way he set up Keaton Jennings in Southampton was incredible. He did struggle with no-balls in his first two matches but didn't bowl a single one in the final Test.

Umesh Yadav - Rating: 5, Verdict: Average
Matches 1 | Wickets 3



He only played the first Test where he was found guilty of wasting the new ball in the first innings with his wayward bowling. He was pretty decent in the second innings where he scalped two wickets. Umesh didn't feature in the second Test, and then Bumrah got fit, and Umesh ended up warming the bench for the rest of the series.

* Players who didn't play a single Test: Karun Nair, Shardul Thakur and Prithvi Shaw.

*Rating chart: Very poor 0-1, Poor 2-4, Average 5-6, Good 7, Very good 8-9, Excellent 10.