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Rohit 10/10; Shami, Umesh 9/10

October 23, 2019 08:37 IST

Harish Kotian's India report card for the South African series.

Team India

India outclassed a hapless South Africa 3-0 in the Test series.

But for a brief period of ascendancy in the opening Test, South Africa never really challenged Virat Kohli's side and were comprehensively beaten in all three matches.

The move to promote Rohit Sharma to open the innings proved the turning point while the fast bowling duo of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav left the Proteas battered and bruised.

Mayank Agarwal and Kohli also did well, hitting centuries as India dominated with the bat. Spin twins Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were again among the wickets.

A look at how India's players fared in the series:

Rohit Sharma (10/10)

Rohit Sharma

The series belonged to just one man: Rohit Sharma.

After dominating with the bat in the limited overs format, Rohit finally stamped his authority in Test cricket too.

Handed a Test lifeline and given the responsibility of opening the innings, the Mumbai right-hander never looked back.

Rohit set the ball rolling with a cracking 176 in the first innings of the first Test in Visakhapatnam and followed it up with 127 in the second in his first game as an opener in the five-day format.

A minor blip followed as he scored just 14 in the only innings India batted in the second Test in Pune.

He was back at his best as he stroked a majestic 212 in the Ranchi Test, his maiden double century in Tests to power India to a 3-0 series whitewash.

Deservedly, he bagged the man-of-the-series award for his 529 runs from four innings, which included three 100-plus scores.

 

Mayank Agarwal (8/10)

Mayank Agarwal

Rohit's good showing proved a blessing in disguise for his opening partner who also did exceptionally well to seal his spot in the Test team.

The Karnataka youngster blossomed in Rohit's company, started off with a double century in the series opener and followed it up with another good innings of 108 in the next game in Pune.

Mayank was the second highest run-getter in the series with 340 runs.

 

Cheteshwar Pujara (4/10)

Pujara started off with a solid 81 in the opening Test, scored 58 in the next match, but perished for a duck in Ranchi.

He must be disappointed to finish with 145 runs in the series, at an average of 36, when all his batting colleagues ended up with plenty.

 

Virat Kohli (8/10)

Virat Kohli

Captain Kohli ruled supreme in the second Test in Pune with a magnificent 254 not out.

He had nothing much to show apart from that, but drew praise for his captaincy skills, especially clever team selections.

The decision to persist with Rohit and his elevation to opener was a masterstroke.

Bringing in a hungry Umesh Yadav for the Pune Test was commendable while the selection of the experienced Shahbaz Nadeem also proved a good choice.

Kohli enjoyed a good run with the coin, winning all three tosses, which played a big role in denting South Africa's confidence.

 

Ajinkya Rahane (7/10)

Ajinkya Rahane

This series saw a more confident Rahane bat like his old self.

Not having much to do in the first Test courtesy the openers, Rahane stroked a patient 59 in the second.

Having got his confidence back, he stroked a fluent 115 in the first innings in Ranchi to rally India after the loss of quick wickets.

He scored 216 runs in the series, at an average of 52.

 

Wriddhiman Saha (7/10)

Wriddhiman Saha

Saha's glovework was impeccable. Little wonder that Kohli and Head Coach Ravi Shastri preferred the veteran in place of Rishabh Pant whose struggles with the gloves in the West Indies came in for criticism.

Saha was equally efficient against pace and spin and took some outstanding catches during the series.

He scored 45 runs in the two innings that he batted, but it was his showing behind the stumps -- 11 catches and one stumping -- that overshadowed everything else.

 

Ravindra Jadeja (9/10)

Ravindra Jadeja

The all-rounder displayed a new facet to his game. While taking wickets at home is the norm for Jadeja, his solid approach with the bat drew praise.

Jadeja, who was promoted to No 6 in all three Tests, scored 212 runs at an average of 70, including two fifties.

With the ball too, he made a mark with 13 wickets in the three Tests.

 

Ravichandran Ashwin (8/10)

Ravichandran Ashwin

Ashwin finished the highest wicket-taker in the series with 15 wickets at an average of 25.

He was particularly impressive in the first innings of the Vizag Test when he took 7/145 to bowl out South Africa for 431 and help India take a 71 run lead which proved decisive in the end.

Ashwin followed it up with 6 wickets in the second Test as India won by an innings and 137 runs. Interestingly, he bagged just one wicket in the final Test.

 

Mohammed Shami (9/10)

Mohammed Shami

The Indian fast bowlers outshone their spin compatriots at home. Shami was easily the best bowler of the series as he produced some cracking spells with both new ball and old.

After going wicketless in the first innings of the Vizag Test, Shami thwarted South Africa's hopes of saving the Test on the fifth and final day, claiming 5/35, of which four batsmen were bowled.

He bowled another cracking spell in the third Test, taking 5 wickets, to finish the series with an impressive 13 wickets at an average of 14.

 

Umesh Yadav (9/10)

Umesh Yadav

Having sat on the sidelines, Umesh showed what India was missing with some smashing performances with the ball.

Drafted into the team after India went in for an extra bowler for the Pune Test, he made an instant impact with the new ball, destroying South Africa's top order. He picked another 3 wickets in the second innings to power India to an easy win.

In the third Test, the South Africans found Umesh too hot to handle. His searing pace and swing left the visitors in awe.

He took 11 wickets in the two Tests he played at a stunning average of 12.

 

And not to forget his entertaining 31 from 10 balls, including 5 sixes, that entertained the Ranchi crowd.

 

Shahbaz Nadeem (7/10)

Shahbaz Nadeem

The experienced left-arm spinner's career turned on its head after he earned a surprise call-up to the team.

Called up as a replacement for the injured Kuldeep Yadav on the eve of the Ranchi game, he made his Test debut before his home crowd.

The 30 year old, who made his first class debut 15 years ago, gave a good account of himself, taking 5 wickets in his debut Test.

Fittingly, he ended the match with two wickets off consecutive deliveries and will start on a hat-trick in the next game he plays in.

 

Ishant Sharma (4/10)

Not a great series for Ishant as he managed just 2 wickets in two games before he was left out for the final match as India went in with an extra spinner.

While Ishant has been one of India's top performers with the ball abroad in the last couple of years, he has struggled to make an impression in Test matches at home.

 

Hanuma Vihari (3/10)

After a fine showing in the West Indies, Vihari didn't get much of an opportunity in this series.

In the first Test, he was sent in at No 7 and perished for 10 in search for some quick runs while he didn't get to bat in the second innings. He was left out for the next two games.

Photographs: BCCI

HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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