Team India Report Card: Kohli 10/10; Sehwag 2/10
Harish Kotian makes an assessment of the Indian players' performance in the tri-series.
After the 4-0 whitewash in the Test series, India showed slight improvement in the CB tri-series, but faltered at crucial moments and failed to make it to the finals.
The World champions were unable to live up to their top billing, and knocked out of the tournament, having won just three of eight matches, while one, against Sri Lanka, finished in a tie.
The Lankans finished atop the standings to make it to the best-of-three finals against hosts Australia.
At times, it was felt that the Indians were experimenting rather than competing to win games, as they rotated their top order throughout the tri-series, leaving the team unsettled.
Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir took turns at opening the innings, and it was not surprising that India's best opening stand in the tournament was just 54 runs, between Sehwag and Tendulkar, in their last match, against Sri Lanka in Hobart.
Kohli, Yadav were the bright spots
And if that was not enough, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the senior duo of Sehwag and Gambhir made digs at each other in public.
Among all the negatives, there were a couple of bright spots, though, mainly in the form of Virat Kohli, who's blazing century helped India chase a huge target of 321 against Sri Lanka in a mere 36.4 overs.
Pacer Umesh Yadav also gave a good account of himself with the ball and troubled all the teams he played against with his extra pace and bounce. He gave ample evidence of his potential, and if groomed properly will be a big bowling star for India in the future.
A look at how the Indian players fared in the tri-series:
205 runs in seven matches
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain): (6/10)
There is no doubt that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is one of the best finishers in limited-overs' cricket, but, it seems, his captaincy standards are slipping gradually.
Whether it was the failure in the Test series that was playing on his mind, or the rift with the seniors that distracted him, Dhoni never looked himself on the field.
He did play a couple of match-winning innings lower down the order, keeping his composure in pressure situations. But his captaincy lacked imagination, especially when the team was not doing well and seemed to be going through the motions.
The Indian selectors will need to resolve the ongoing feud between Dhoni and the senior players, or be brave enough to take a call on the ageing starts.
With 205 runs in seven matches, at an average of 51.25, Dhoni finished as the third highest run-getter for India in the tri-series.
65 runs in five matches
Virender Sehwag: (2/10)
Virender Sehwag just refused to learn from his mistakes, and his failures cost India a lot. His only decent contribution in the tri-series was the three for 43 he took with the ball, against Australia at Sydney.
Playing on pitches where the bowlers enjoyed the upperhand in the initial overs, Sehwag never looked to get his eye in and threw his wicket away with reckless shots. The senior opener finished with a poor tally of 65 runs in five matches and was rightly axed for the Asia Cup tournament, though the selectors preferred to call his exclusion as 'rest' because of his injury.
He also set a bad precedent by making the rift in the Indian camp public, with a dig at captain Dhoni during a press conference.
Sehwag should also be made to prove his fitness and form in domestic cricket before he is considered again for selection to the Indian team.
143 runs from seven matches
Sachin Tendulkar: (5/10)
Playing in his first ODI series after the World Cup, the batting maestro failed to live up to his usually high standards.
He was unable to cross the half-century mark in seven appearances in the tournament, aggregating 143 runs at an average of 20.42, leaving many wondering whether he should give up playing the ODI format.
Many also believe the pressure of a 100th international century is weighing down. But, having played for more than 21 years now, one is sure that Tendulkar will bounce back strongly as he always does.
The upcoming Asia Cup could prove to be a make or break time for him as far as his ODI career is concerned.
308 runs in seven matches
Gautam Gambhir: (7/10)
Gautam Gambhir came into his own in the second half of the tournament and played a few vital innings. He was unlucky to miss the century mark twice, as he got out for 92 and 91 against Australia and Sri Lanka respectively. The left-hander hit three fifties and in those matches, India won twice, while one match finished in a tie.
He finished with an impressive tally of 308 runs in seven matches at an average of 44.
He and Dhoni also missed no chances to make a dig at each other in public, over differences in the rotation policy and slowness of the seniors in the field.
It could be that very rift that cost Gambhir the vice-captaincy for the Asia Cup 2012. However, he remains a strong contender for the captain's post, ahead of Virat Kohli, if Dhoni does decide to give it up in the near future.
373 runs in eight matches
Virat Kohli: (10/10)
Virat Kohli ensured India left Australia on a high despite failures in both the Tests and tri-series.
His magical innings of 133 not out from 86 balls that helped India chase down 321 in just 36.4 overs will be remembered as one of the great ODI innings of all-time.
On the verge of being dropped from the Test team, Kohli announced himself with a century in the Adelaide Test, his last chance to prove himself, and kept his form going in the tri-series that followed.
He was the only Indian player to hit a century on the tour and finished as the top run-getter for India with 373 runs in eight matches @ 53.28, hitting a century and two fifties.
Kohli also seems to be enjoying full confidence of the selectors after being named vice-captain for the Asia Cup and mentioned as a potential future captain.
182 runs in eight matches
Suresh Raina: (5/10)
Suresh Raina was another player who refused to learn from his mistakes. On a few occasions, he got out attempting to play the pull shot, perhaps trying to prove a point, but it only contributed to his downfall.
As former India captain Sourav Ganguly rightly said on a television channel, Raina needs to work on his technique, else he will struggle in the future.
Dhoni kept persisting with Raina even at the expense of the in-form Manoj Tiwary, who hit a century in his last game but failed to get a single opportunity in the tri-series.
Perhaps, it was Raina's part-time off-spinners that helped him win the captain's faith ahead of the others.
The stats say it all: a poor series for Raina, who scored 182 runs in eight matches, at an average of 26.
The left-hander needs to prove himself in the Asia Cup, otherwise he could feel the heat from the selectors.
79 runs in five matches
Rohit Sharma: (4/10)
Rohit Sharma continues to be an enigma. When in full flow, his batting is a sight to behold. But those moments have been few and far between since his entry into international cricket five years ago.
He looked shaky throughout, and managed just 79 runs in five matches before being relegated to the sidelines.
Rohit is touted as the next big star of Indian cricket, but, at the moment, he needs to cement his place in the team first.
The right-hander has been found wanting with his technique on pitches offering a bit of help to the bowlers and that is something he need to works on in the nets.
101 runs in eight matches
Ravindra Jadeja: (4/10)
Ravindra Jadeja is also another player who needs to prove his worth at the international level. Drafted into the side as an all-rounder, he never made significant contributions with either the bat or ball.
He scored just 101 runs in eight matches, at an average of 16.83, picking three wickets at a strike rate of 123.3.
Yusuf Pathan's comeback into the Indian team for the Asia Cup must surely come as a big warning for Jadeja to pull up his socks and start performing.
Seven wickets in seven games
R Ashwin: (6/10)
India have always depended on their main spinner to deliver the goods, whether playing at home or abroad. But R Ashwin has so far played the role of a defensive bowler. The off-spinner's inability to produce match-winning spells hurt India in the tri-series.
Ashwin returned home with modest figures of seven wickets in seven games at an average of 43.42, though he had a good economy rate (4.82).
He did show some promise with the bat, scoring 81 runs @ 20.25, but his failure to produce lethal spells with the ball stands out.
Harbhajan Singh was also dropped for going defensive and not getting wickets; it is time to put Ashwin on notice too.
Five wickets in six games
Umesh Yadav: (7/10)
It is a delight to watch young Umesh Yadav come bursting in and consistently deliver in the high 140s (kmph).
India seems to have a genuine fast bowler, who in a few years time,, if looked after well, could prove a match-winner on foreign pitches.
Yadav showed encouraging signs in the tri-series, as he claimed five wickets in six games in the tri-series, but needs to work his bowling a bit more as he ended up giving away runs at more than six per over.
This was his first big tour away from home and one is sure he has learnt a lot from this experience.
Nine wickets in six matches
R Vinay Kumar: (7/10)
R Vinay Kumar was another player who held his own despite the team's poor showing. He finished as the top wicket-taker for India in the tri-series with nine wickets in six matches, with an average of 32, and an economy rate of 5.25.
He was impressive with the new ball and almost every time provided the team the breakthrough in the early overs. But he seemed to struggle in the final overs, when the batsmen went after him.
Five wickets in four matches
Zaheer Khan: (5/10)
Zaheer Khan was another senior player who performed way below expectations. He was constantly rotated throughout the series and played just four matches.
He returned with five wickets, and a best of 2-44.
With a big question mark over his fitness and his constant injury breakdowns, it remains to be seen how long he continues to play in the ODIs.
Six wickets in four matches
Irfan Pathan: (7/10)
This was the second coming of Irfan Pathan. Back in the Indian team after a string of impressive performances in the domestic circuit, he gave a good account of himself, both with bat and ball.
He didn't get a chance till late in the tournament, after which he showed that he deserves to be a part of the one-day outfit.
Irfan took six wickets in the four matches that he played, at an average of 30.16, and economy rate of 5.32.
The swing that once deserted him seems to have come back; his run-up and action also look normal now.
Three wickets in four matches
Praveen Kumar: (6/10)
Praveen Kumar was unlucky to miss out on the Test series with an injury, but couldn't make a big impact in the tri-series in conditions helpful for seamers.
He returned with three wickets in four matches, at an average of 63.
Unfair to write off Parthiv Patel
Parthiv Patel: (5/10)
Parthiv Patel got just one chance to prove himself when captain Dhoni was banned for slow over-rate.
He had a poor game with the gloves and his demotion in the batting order didn't help his cause either.
Yet, it would be unfair to write him off after just one appearance, where he scored just four runs after being sent at number eight and took just one catch, while dropping one.
Rahul Sharma impressed in the only match he played
Rahul Sharma: (5/10)
Rahul Sharma was clearly unlucky not to have got more chances. The young leg-spinner impressed quite a few in the only match he played, when he took one for 44 in 6.2 overs against Australia at Melbourne.
Dhoni kept persisting with Ashwin, despite the off-spinner not living up to expectations, and Rahul could only watch from the sidelines.
But he is one for the future and will surely get his chances soon.
Manoj Tiwary hit a century in his last match, against the West Indies, but captain Dhoni ignored him for the full tournament. However, he showed a lot of passion and commitment whenever he came out in the middle as a substitute fielder.