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India's Test report card: Ashwin, Jadeja 'turn' it on!

By Harish Kotian
December 08, 2015 09:24 IST
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If India toyed with the South Africans in the Test series, it was thanks to awesome performances from spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, says Harish Kotian/Rediff.com in his report card on Team India.

India captain Virat Kohli with Shikhar Dhawan during a practice sesion

IMAGE: Skipper Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan during a practice session. Photograph: PTI

India was at its dominating best at home, consigning South Africa to its first away series defeat in nine years.

Spin did the trick as Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who took 54 wickets in four matches between them, helped India clinch a comprehensive 3-0 series victory.

There was also Ajinkya Rahane's century in both innings of the fourth Test in Delhi, in a series otherwise headlined more by the bowlers than batsmen.

Ashwin, without doubt, was the player of the series, though Jadeja also made a telling contribution on a smashing return to the Indian team.

Harish Kotian/Rediff.com rates Team India.

Virat Kohli: 7/10

With the bat, Kohli failed to live up to his lofty standards. The 88 he scored in the second innings of the Delhi Test was the only knock of note by India's captain who finished with 200 runs, at an average of 33.

He had a dream run as captain though, with South Africa crumbling to his spinners in Mohali and Nagpur and handing India the series on a platter.

His decision against enforcing the follow-on in Delhi, promoting the out-of-form Rohit Sharma to No 3 and his field placings during the Delhi Test were questioned, but overall, his captaincy drew a lot of praise.

Murali Vijay: 7/10

Vijay had an outstanding series at the top of the batting order. He started the series with good knocks of 75 and 47 on a difficult wicket in Mohali.

He played out the fast bowlers early to ensure that the middle order was not exposed to the new ball.

He failed in both innings of the Delhi Test, but by then had done enough to ensure that India pocketed the series in Nagpur with a game to spare.

Shikhar Dhawan: 5/10

Ajinkya Rahane celebrates after scoring a century

IMAGE: Ajinkya Rahane acknowledges the cheers after scoring a century in the Delhi Test. A sweet milestone to cherish for the Mumbai batsman who failed in his debut Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla two years ago. Photograph: BCCI

Dhawan threw away his wicket after getting off to starts.

He started with a 'pair' in the first Test before an unbeaten 45 in the rain-hit match in Bangalore helped keep his place in the team.

The left-hander didn't do much in the next two games either and finished with 150 runs in the series, at an average of 25.

Cheteshwar Pujara: 6/10

Pujara's sparkling 77 in the second innings of the Mohali Test was a crucial factor in India's victory, but he was guilty of failing to making the most of good starts.

There's little doubt that he is India's best option at No 3, but his weakness against the incoming delivery was exposed when he was bowled in his last three innings.

Ajinkya Rahane: 7/10

'Jinx' was the top run-getter in the series with 266 runs, the only batsman from either side to average over 50.

Before the Delhi Test -- where he became the fifth Indian to score centuries in both innings of the same Test -- he had struggled and scored just 39 runs in four innings. But what a comeback he made at the Ferozeshah Kotla!

Rohit Sharma: 1/10

Sharma provided enough proof why his Test career has never taken off and why it never will. He has the technique and skill, but struggles mentally to play the longer format of the game.

The Mumbai batsman -- guilty of throwing away his wicket in the second innings of the Nagpur Test at a crucial juncture -- was a disaster in Delhi.

Though he had his skipper's support, Sharma's Test career is over for now.

Wriddhiman Saha: 6/10

Man of the Series Ravichandran Ashwin

IMAGE: Man of the Series Ravichandran Ashwin with the ball which fetched him five wickets in South Africa's second innings in Delhi. Photograph: BCCI

Unlike the Test series in Sri Lanka, where his batting sparkled, Saha was a disappointment this series.

But his 'keeping to the spinners was fantastic, especially on the difficult wicket at the Kotla.

Ravichandran Ashwin: 10/10

Ashwin was unstoppable, finishing with 31 wickets, which meant nearly four wickets in every innings of the series.

He took four five-wicket hauls, including a 10-wicket one in the Nagpur Test.

With the bat, he made handy contributions, including the half-century in the Delhi Test which helped him finish with 101 runs for the series.

Amit Mishra: 6/10

The leg-spinner played two Tests to finish with seven wickets.

The 33 year old did not have Mahendra Singh Dhoni's backing and played just 13 Tests over three years since making his debut in 2008, but under Kohli he has already featured in five Tests in four months and seems part of the captain's future plans too.

Ravindra Jadeja: 9/10

Ravindra Jadeja celebrates taking a wicket

IMAGE: What a comeback for Ravindra Jadeja! Photograph: BCCI

His Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak rates Jadeja as the 'best Indian spinner on turning tracks.' And 'Sir' Ravindra proved that this series./p>

The left-arm spinner took 23 wickets and his spell on the final day of the Delhi Test had a Bapu Nadkarni-ish feel about it. At one point he has figures of 8-8-0-1.

Dropped for the Sri Lanka series, he stormed his way back into the national side with astonishing performances in domestic cricket.

In his comeback Test at Mohali, he claimed eight wickets!

Ishant Sharma: 5/10

Ishant didn't have much bowling to do as the pitches favoured the spinners.

His only wicket was in the Delhi Test when he bowled Dane Vilas in the first innings. India's pace spearhead -- magnificent in Sri Lanka, despite his petulance -- had only a cameo role this time.

Umesh Yadav: 6/10

Yadav hasn't sealed a permanent place in the ODI and Test squads.

He played the first Test at Mohali, bowled just nine overs in both innings and went wicketless.

Dropped for the next two games, he made a strong comeback in the Delhi Test, finishing off the match in grand style. His three-wicket burst late on Day 5 helped India crush South Africa by 337 runs after the visitors had frustrated the hosts on the final day.

He finished with five wickets in the game.

Varun Aaron: 5/10

Aaron was part of a three-man pace attack in Mohali, but didn't have much to do in that game.

He produced a wonderful delivery to get rid of Hashim Amla in Bangalore, but was dropped for next two Tests.

Stuart Binny: 5/10

Binny was selected for the Bangalore Test, but alas! the game was washed out.

He bowled three overs and took a stunning catch, running back from long-on to dismiss Morne Morkel off Ashwin.

He is Kohli's preferred all-rounder could see more action when India plays away from home.

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