New Zealand had promised much more than what they finally delivered in the series against India, as the final score-line in the test series represents.
New Zealand had promised much more than what they finally delivered in the series against India, as the final score-line in the test series represents. Apart from one session of quite a mindless rush of going about doling out their wickets, the Indian batsmen performed well under the circumstances, where as their cherry-chucking counterparts did well in the first and the third match, but were restricted by a feather-bed of a wicket in the Napier match.
This piece reviews the performances of all the Indian cricketers in the three-test match series, on a scale of 10. Let's begin with the batsmen.
1. Virender Sehwag - 5/10 - Much was expected out of him after the performances in the shortened form of the game, but he flattered to deceive. Going about his business in a manner so usual that it could be branded as the Sehwag-style, he ended up slogging some shots to the fence and then donating his wicket away as is his wont to innocuous deliveries. Jeetan Patel managed to elicit a rather as-atrocious-as-Hitler's-atrocities shot at a delicate juncture in the Napier test match and for me, that was one prime example of Sehwag trying to play the bowler than the bowling.
2. Gautam Gambhir - 9.5/10 - Gambhir was a total antithesis of his opening partner, as he had struggled to come to grips with the Kiwi pitches in the ODI series, but once the tests were around the corner, he showed his class. In a classic tale of rear-guard action, Gambhir hit a century over the last couple of days of the Napier test, batting for more than seven hours in the progress and helping the Indians get away with a draw, and then topped the effort by smashing another 100 in the Wellington match. If it was the Napier century that made Sehwag christen his buddy as the 'new wall of India', then the Wellington one was not only full of concrete and grit, but had some exquisite stroke-play and one couldn’t have found any chinks in the either innings. An epitome of purposeful batting on display.
3. Rahul Dravid - 7.5/10 - Consistency has always been Dravid's middle name, and this series was no different. Four half centuries out of five completed innings underline this fact, but more so speak volumes about the mental toughness of the man who had been under a lot of flak for his indifferent form in the last couple of years. What would have still bothered the man - and this is due to his penchant for admonishing himself on making silly errors - was that he couldn't convert his scores into bigger runs; but he still ranks as one of the players who played his role to perfection in conquering the 'final frontier'. The surprise though was the kind of reaction that emanated from the Dravid-stable each time he had to make that long way back; it wasn’t as unflappable as Dravid usually is.
4. Sachin Tendulkar - 8/10 - The one reason why I would rate Tendulkar tad higher than Dravid in the series despite the duo having scored almost the same amount is the way he got them. Tendulkar was not only at his dominating best, but his inning of 160 was also one that finished the Kiwis off in the opening exchange. His batting in the series was as fluid as one may like, and even his harshest critics would have had no real chance to mouth too much retirement-talks for the Little Master given his performances in the series.
5. VVS Laxman - 7.5/10 - A series to remember for VVS, as he looked unhurried - and unharried - on most occasions and scored a match-saving century in the second test match of the series. The usual delectable wristiness was there as a garnish in the batting feast, and had it not been for some callous batting, Laxman could have very well been the top scorer of the series. Still, it was a series to remember for Laxman.
6. Yuvraj Singh - 3/10 - His rating would have been even poorer had it not been for the unbeaten fifty that he scored in the second test match, but apart from that, his batting struggled as badly as it had against the likes of Muthiah Muralitharan at the start of his career. To add to that, there were dropped catches galore, though, to be fair to him, fielding in the slips is something that he is not too versed with. Yuvraj will need to try and tighten his technique against the quick, seaming bowling, if he wants to fulfil his long-cherished dream of performing well in the format that filters the chaff off the wheat. For now, it looks like a long way off.