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IND vs ENG: India Report Card - Ashwin and Axar 10/10, Rohit 9/10 & Pant 8/10

By: Nikhil Narain

Last Updated: March 08, 2021, 17:32 IST



R Ashwin and Axar Patel were the biggest match-winners for India in their 3-1 series triumph against England. Rohit Sharma showed his class at the top of the order scoring tough runs when most of the other batsmen failed while Rishabh Pant enhanced his reputation as a genuine match-winner with the bat in the lower-order.

India thrashed England by an innings and 25 runs in the fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad to take the series 3-1 and with it book a place alongside New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) in England in June this year. There were a number of stars who gave brilliant individual performances which made the collective effort stand out. We look at India’s Report Card from the series.

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1. R Ashwin - 10/10

R Ashwin was the leading wicket-taker of the series and returned with 32 wickets in the four matches at a stunning average of 14.71 and strike rate of 35.2 including three five-fors in the series. He became the only Indian bowler in history to take 30-plus wickets in a series twice in his career. Ashwin was relentless and bamboozled the English batsman with his guile, spin and variations.

His dismissal of Joe Root in the first innings of the Pink Ball Test led to an England collapse and India dominated the series thereafter. The series also confirmed the return of Ashwin - the all-rounder. He scored a brilliant hundred in the second innings of the second Test in Chennai to bat England out of the contest. Ashwin re-established his position and legacy as the greatest match-winner for India at home in their Test history.

2. Axar Patel - 10/10

It was a dream debut for Axar Patel who returned with 27 wickets in just three Tests at an average of 10.59 and strike rate of 28.3. His exploits included 4 five-fors and one 10-wicket haul in a match. Axar was brilliant with his slow left-arm orthodox and made sure India did not miss the services of Ravindra Jadeja. He foxed the batsmen with his arm-ball and straighter one which did more damage than the conventional spin-away delivery.

He varied his pace and length and was impossible to play in the Pink Ball Test where he returned with 11 wickets. Axar’s 27 wickets on debut is one of the greatest performances by any bowler of any country in his first series in Test cricket history. He equaled Dilip Doshi’s record of maximum wickets by an Indian bowler in debut series.

3. Rohit Sharma - 9/10

On wickets that were challenging for the batsmen where most others failed and found it difficult to occupy the crease leave alone score runs, Rohit Sharma stood out and gave three fine performances in the series. His 161 off 231 deliveries in the first innings of the second Test at Chennai was one of the greatest hundreds by an Indian opener in home conditions.

Under pressure, with India 0-1 and having lost early wickets in the innings, Rohit counter-attacked and hammered a scintillating hundred which changed the match on its head and marked the turning point in the series. It inspired an Indian fightback and they eventually took the series 3-1.

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4. Rishabh Pant - 8/10

Not only did Rishabh Pant show remarkable improvement behind the stumps pulling off some magnificent diving catches and stunning stumpings, he also took his batting to another level producing the match-defining knock in the crucial fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad. Coming out to bat with India under pressure at 80 for 4 which soon worsened to 121 for 5 and 146 for 6, Pant counter-attacked but with measure putting together a match-changing and series-defining partnership of 113 with Washington Sundar. He scored a magnificent 101 off 118 deliveries which gave India the lead in the first innings and the ascendancy in the match.

5. Washington Sundar - 7/10

Washington Sundar enhanced his reputation as a batting all-rounder in the lower-order capable of changing the course of a match with his bat alone. He produced a classic unbeaten 85 in the first innings of the series opener in Chennai. Sundar then registered an unbeaten 96 in the fourth and final Test against England in Ahmedabad coming out to bat at 146 for 6 with his team under pressure and changing the match on its head being involved in two back to back century partnerships.

He understood the match situation and adjusted his game accordingly. He played the ideal foil when Pant was attacking from the other end but assumed the role of the senior and more aggressive partner when Axar Patel was at the crease.

6. Ishant Sharma - 7/10

Ishant Sharma was the best Indian fast bowler of the series and returned with 6 wickets in 6 innings at an average of 26.66. He was the ideal support act to the likes of Ashwin and Axar Patel and troubled the English batsmen even on spinner-friendly wickets in Chennai and Ahmedabad. He bowled with pace and fire and maintained a disciplined line and length just on or outside the off stump with the odd delivery coming back in and surprising the batsmen.

7. Mohammed Siraj - 6/10

Mohammed Siraj played just two Tests and with the Indian spinners doing the bulk of the bowling did not get to bowl a lot of overs in the series. But he was impressive in the 26 overs he did bowl across the 4 innings and was a fine support act keeping the batsmen on a tight leash as indicated by his economy rate of 2.61. He also stepped up his game in England’s first innings in the final Test in Ahmedabad providing India with two massive breakthroughs.

He set the England captain Joe Root with a number of deliveries that shaped away before getting one in sharply to strike the batsman plumb in front of the wickets. He then ended a potentially dangerous stand between Bairstow and Stokes getting rid of the right-hander with an effort ball which was bowled at 10 kms per hour faster than his stock delivery. Siraj had justified his selection in the XI ahead of the more experienced Umesh Yadav.

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8. Virat Kohli - 5/10

Virat Kohli registered two tough fifties under pressure in the series but was below-par with respect to the high standards he sets for himself. Kohli could aggregate just 172 runs in 6 innings at an average of 28.66 in the series. He registered two ducks and another below-15 innings in the series. Kohli has not scored an international hundred since 2020.

9. Cheteshwar Pujara - 4/10

The New Wall of India wasn’t quite at his best in the series. Barring his under-pressure 73 in the first innings of the series opener in Chennai, Pujara had scores of 15, 21, 7, 0 and 17 in the series. He did not occupy the crease for any significant length of time in 5 of the 6 innings he batted in the series - a very unlike Pujara performance.

10. Jasprit Bumrah - 4/10

Jasprit Bumrah did not have a great start to his maiden Test series at home and returned with 4 wickets in the two Tests (three innings) he played in the series at an average of 32.25 and strike rate of 72. Bumrah was not at his lethal best in the series. His best performance came in the first innings of the series opener where he returned with 3-84 in his 36 overs.

11. Ajinkya Rahane - 3/10

Ajinkya Rahane played a significant role in India’s transformation in the series scoring 67 off 149 deliveries in the first innings of the second Test in Chennai. He came out to bat at 86 for 3 and put together a match-changing stand of 162 with Rohit Sharma. But that innings notwithstanding, Rahane’s returns in all the other innings of the series were very poor. He registered scores of 1, 0, 10, 7 and 27 in the remaining five innings. Overall he scored 112 runs in 6 innings at an average of 18.66 in the series.

12. Kuldeep Yadav - 3/10

Kuldeep Yadav failed to make an impact in the one solitary Test he played in the series. He was not getting the same bite and purchase as Ashwin and Axar Patel even on the spin-friendly track in the second Test in Chennai. He was ineffective in the first innings and returned with a couple of wickets in the second.

13. Shubman Gill - 3/10

Shubman Gill had a poor series with the bat against England after a great start in Australia. The opener failed to provide any stability at the top of the order and aggregated just 119 runs in 7 innings at an average of 19.83 in the series. He showed promise in the series opener with a fluent 29 off 28 deliveries in the first innings before recording a brisk 53 off 83 balls in the second. But his form dwindled thereafter with a clear technical deficiency against the incoming delivery being his bane in the series. Gill registered two ducks and was dismissed for under-15 in a couple of other innings too in the series.

14. Shahbaz Nadeem - 2/10

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    Shahbaz Nadeem just played the series opener in Chennai where he was the weakest link in the bowling unit. He bowled on both sides of the wicket and delivered a number of short deliveries which were cut to the boundary by the England batsmen. He failed to keep the batsmen on a tight leash and build any sort of pressure from his end throughout his spell in the two innings.

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