» Cricket » Report Card: 10/10 for star all-rounder Bhuvneshwar

Report Card: 10/10 for star all-rounder Bhuvneshwar

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: January 30, 2018 12:52 IST
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The top order failed to fire in difficult conditions, but the bowlers stood out, not only performing with the ball but scoring vital runs as well.
Harish Kotian's report card on the Indian team in the Test series against South Africa.

India may have lost the series against South Africa, but Virat Kohli and his team won hearts by a superb, fighting, performance to win the final Test.

Not many teams can boast of beating South Africa on a lively wicket that aids fast bowling, but the Indian pacers and batsmen braved it out, taking blow after blow but not conceding an inch, to score a stunning 63 run victory on a minefield of a pitch at The Wanderers.

Captain Kohli paved the way for India's resurgence with the century in the second Test. He was ably supported by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah in the third Test.

The top order failed to fire in difficult conditions, but the bowlers stood out, not only performing with the ball but scoring vital runs as well.


Virat Kohli (9/10)

Virat Kohli

After twin failures in the first Test, Virat led India's revival with fine knocks in the next two games.

He hit a brilliant 153 in the second Test which gave his team belief despite losing the match.

His crucial knocks of 54 and 41 in the final Test, on a difficult wicket, were instrumental in helping India clinch an unlikely victory.

Kohli was the top run-getter in the series with 286 runs, at an average of 47, on pitches loaded in the bowlers' favour.

Though he shone with the bat, there were question marks about his team selection.

He opted to start the series with limited overs specialist Rohit Sharma who is yet to make a mark in Tests, instead of the more dependable Ajinkya Rahane.

His decision to drop Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the second Test was mystifying and still unexplained by the skipper.


Ajinkya Rahane (7/10)

Ajinkya Rahane

With India reeling at 100/4 in the second innings, the vice-captain played a match-defining knock of 48; his seventh wicket partnership of 55 runs with Bhuvneshwar Kumar proved crucial in the final analysis.

Whenever the team plays overseas next, Rahane will be a definite starter.


Bhuvneshwar Kumar (10/10)

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Undoubtedly, India's player of the series.

Bhuvi emerged as the new all-rounder ahead of the player originally picked as an all-rounder.

After his four-wicket burst in the first innings of the first Test and a handy 25 with the bat, Bhuvi was shockingly dropped for the next game. Ishant Sharma was picked in his place.

When recalled for the third Test, he not only picked wickets -- four in sum -- but also played crucial knocks of 30 and 33 in the two innings.

Bhuvi could be the all-rounder India has been searching all these years especially in overseas conditions.

He finished with 10 wickets and 101 runs. His average of 33 was the second best among the Indian batsmen.


Murali Vijay (5/10)

Murali Vijay

The normally reliable Vijay failed to live up to his high standards.

He scored just 102 runs in the series, at a lowly average of 17, with a highest score of 46.

His 25 from 127 balls in the second innings of the third Test was important in terms of laying the foundation for the triumph, but, overall, he had a below par showing with the bat.

On the last tour of South Africa, he was particularly good outside the off-stump, leaving a lot of deliveries.

This time, that very area proved his undoing, as time and again he was caught off edges, poking at wide deliveries.


K L Rahul (2/10)

KL Rahul

Included in Shikhar Dhawan's place for the second and third Tests, Rahul struggled against South Africa's pacers.

He made a paltry 30 runs in four innings, failing to cross the 20 run mark even once.


Shikhar Dhawan (2/10)

Shikhar Dhawan

Shikhar's technique was thoroughly exposed in the first Test. He failed twice; both times he fell to short balls from the fast bowlers.

The only consolation is that he scored more runs (32) in the two innings than what Rahul did (30) in four.


Cheteshwar Pujara (6/10)

Cheteshwar Pujara

Mr Consistent had a forgettable first two Tests before he made up for it with a gritty 50 in the final Test.

He took 53 balls to get off the mark, but proved the perfect foil for Kohli, and was involved in their crucial third-wicket stand of 84 runs.

The two run-outs in the second Test will no doubt haunt him.

Pujara finished with 100 runs, at an average of 16.


Rohit Sharma (2/10)

Rohit Sharma

Rohit failed to capitalise on two huge chances to resurrect his Test career.

Selected ahead of Rahane for the first two Tests, Rohit wasted away starts. He scored 11 and 10 in the first Test.

In the second innings of the second Test, Rohit had a great chance to play a big innings, but threw his wicket away after scoring 47 as he played a reckless pull shot.

He finished with a poor tally of 78 runs in four innings and was rightly dropped for the final Test.


Hardik Pandya (5/10)

Hardik Pandya

Hardik is yet to convince us that he can play the role of all-rounder in Test matches.

He hit a superb counter-attacking 93 from 95 balls in the first Test, but after that had scores of 1, 15, 6, 0 and 4.

The way he gave his wickets away, especially in the second Test, left many frustrated.

He was run out after a casual effort to get back into the crease, and things only got worse when he was caught behind in the second innings trying to play the ramp shot against pacer Lungi Ngidi.


Parthiv Patel (4/10)

Parthiv Patel

Called in to replace Wriddhiman Saha, wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel was a disappointment.

He dropped some straightforward catches in the second Test and his wicket-keeping in that game was poor.

He kept his spot for the third Test, and redeemed himself by taking some smart catches in the final innings of the series.


Wriddhiman Saha (5/10)

Wriddhiman Saha

Saha shone with the gloves in the first Test before an injury forced him to miss the next two games.

He didn't make much of a contribution with the bat, scoring just eight runs in the two innings, but was super reliable behind the stumps, taking as many as 10 catches in the first Test, including five in each innings.


Ravichandran Ashwin (7/10)

Ravichandran Ashwin

Ashwin did a good job with the ball in the second Test on a pitch that surprisingly offered turn from Day 1.

He took four wickets in the first innings, sending down 38.5 overs, then took one more in the second.

Dropped for the third Test -- India fielded an all-pace attack -- Ashwin made handy contributions with the bat, scoring 37 and 38 in the two Tests.

He finished with 90 runs in the series, at an average of 22, claiming seven wickets.


Jasprit Bumrah (8/10)

Jasprit Bumrah

Playing his first Test series, Jasprit was India's second highest wicket-taker in the series with 14 wickets, including a career-best 5/54 in his fifth Test innings.

He bowled a brilliant spell in South Africa's second innings in the first Test, accounting for A B de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock, which was crucial in bowling out the hosts for 130, and keeping India's hopes alive before the batsmen flopped.

His bowling was very consistent through the series; he provided regular breakthroughs in all the three games and was equally effective with the new and old ball.


Mohammed Shami (8/10)

Mohammed Shami

Shami was another class act for India.

He bowled a match-winning 5/28 in the second innings of the third Test, cleaning up the tail in a four-wicket burst.

A second innings bowler in the series, he bowled a fiery spell in the second innings of the first Test, picking 3/28, to fire up the Indians, then claimed 4/49 in the second innings of the second Test.

He finished joint-highest wicket-taker in the series with 15 wickets along with Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada.

A huge positive was that Shami went through the series without an injury setback.


Ishant Sharma (7/10)

Ishant Sharma

India's senior-most fast bowler was reduced to the role of a holding bowler, but, to his credit, the veteran pacer did his job to perfection, especially in the second Test, when not only did he keep one end tight but also claimed 5 wickets in the game.

Ishant made crucial breakthroughs in the third Test, dismissing night watchman Rabada after he had put on 64 runs for the third wicket with Hashim Amla.

In the second innings, Ishant struck at a crucial time with Amla's wicket. Dismissing the legend led to South Africa's collapse. They lost 9 wickets for 53 runs and the third Test.

Photographs: BCCI

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Harish Kotian /