Coming right at the end of a long home season, the series against Australia offered a stern test of both physical and mental resolve for the Indians. Having arrived well prepared, the visitors pulled off a shock victory in Pune.
However, the hosts bounced back in Bengaluru with a virtuoso performance. With the third Test in Ranchi ending a stalemate, the focus shifted to Dharamsala for the winner-takes-all clash. Rising to the occasion, India sealed a memorable 8-wicket victory to win the series 2-1 and wrest back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Let us take a close look at how each Indian player fared in the series.
Ravindra Jadeja – 9
Named ‘Player of the Series’ for his all round exploits, Jadeja was the difference between the two teams. Aside from being the highest wicket-taker in the series, he also chipped in with a couple of crucial fifties to shore up India’s totals from the lower-order. The left-armer’s relentless efforts on truer first-innings pitches displayed his value to the side.
127 runs from four matches at an average of 25.40 with two fifties; 25 wickets at an average of 18.56 with two five-wicket hauls
Cheteshwar Pujara – 9
Occupying the vital number three slot, Pujara has been the bulwark of the Indian batting lineup. He ended this series as the second highest run-scorer behind Australian skipper Steven Smith. If his 92 in Bengaluru changed the direction of the series, the double century in Ranchi helped the hosts absorb steep scoreboard pressure.
405 runs from four matches at an average of 57.85 with one century and two fifties
Umesh Yadav – 8.5
Earning plaudits from venerated names like Sourav Ganguly and Ian Chappell, Umesh operated with pace and menace on unhelpful pitches. No fast bowler on either side picked up more wickets than his tally of 17 scalps. His vicious spell on the third day in Dharamsala reduced Australia’s top-order to tatters and paved the way for a comfortable Indian victory.
17 wickets from four matches at an average of 23.41
KL Rahul – 8.5
Before the series began, Rahul had scored four centuries and one fifty. At the end of it, he amassed six more half-centuries to his name. Although he was unable to convert those into three figures, the opener was the most consistent batsman across all four matches.
393 runs from four matches at an average of 65.50 with six fifties
Wriddhiman Saha – 8
Resilient behind the stumps and pugnacious in front of it, Saha has emerged as a vital cog in the Indian team. On pitches with varying degrees of difficulty, his glove work was exemplary. He scored a determined century in Ranchi and formed an important 199-run partnership with Pujara.
174 runs from four matches at an average of 34.80 with one century; 13 catches and one stumping
Kuldeep Yadav – 7.5
Making his Test debut at the picturesque HPCA Stadium, Kuldeep made a major impression by almost single-handedly turning the game on its head. His unplayable spell during the post-lunch session on the opening day triggered a collapse in the Australian camp.
Four wickets from one match at an average of 22.75
Ravichandran Ashwin – 7
During the course of the Dharamsala Test, Ashwin went past Dale Steyn’s record for the most wickets in a season. All those countless overs not only led to fatigue but also sapped his energy on the field.
Despite not being in the best of form, he still produced a match-winning spell in Bengaluru. As the series came to a close, the off-spinner could barely bend down to pick up the ball.
53 runs from four matches at an average of 8.33; 21 wickets at an average of 27.38 with one five-wicket haul
Ajinkya Rahane – 7
Amidst a lean run, Rahane showed glimpses of his batting prowess by forming a series-defining partnership with Pujara in the Bengaluru Test. With his shrewd bowling changes and attacking field placements, he carried out captaincy duties with aplomb in the all-important final Test.
198 runs from four matches at an average of 33 with 1 fifty
Bhuvneshwar Kumar – 6
It’s never easy when the team management selects a bowler only on seam-friendly pitches and straight away expects him to perform. However, Bhuvneshwar gave his all in the fourth Test. If not for Karun Nair’s abominable slip-catching, he could have picked up David Warner in both innings. Nevertheless, his timely scalp of Smith ensured a rare lean return against India for the Australian skipper.
Two wickets from one match at an average of 34
Murali Vijay – 5.5
From five innings in the series, Vijay was able to get past the fifty mark on only one occasion. An enigmatic presence at the top of the order, the Tamil Nadu batsman often played crisp shots before suffering fatal lapses in concentration.
113 runs from three matches at an average of 22.60 with 1 fifty
Ishant Sharma – 4.5
Ishant bowled much better than his figures would suggest. Regularly beating the bat from an awkward length, the experienced seamer could not quite reap the rewards for his efforts. His purposeful spell on the second day of the Bengaluru Test helped keep the visitors on a tight leash.
Three wickets from three matches at an average of 69.66
Abhinav Mukund – 3.5
Drafted into the top of the order in the second Test to replace his injured state-mate Vijay, Mukund's comeback plans did not go as expected. A couple of dropped catches as a substitute fielder in the opening Test only made matters worse for the 27-year-old.
16 runs from one match an average of 8
Jayant Yadav – 3
Despite bowling on a rank turner in Pune, Jayant struggled to find his rhythm. From 23 overs across both innings, he conceded as many as 101 runs for just two wickets. After being benched for the last three Tests, his career hangs in the balance.
Two wickets from one match at an average of 50.50
Virat Kohli – 3
In the batting department, the Indian captain suffered the least productive series of his career thus far. However, his vibrant captaincy in Bengaluru was critical to India’s defence of a not-so-big total in the fourth innings. Amidst various confrontations both one and off the field, he sprained his shoulder in Ranchi and subsequently had to miss the series decider.
46 runs from three matches at an average of 9.20
Karun Nair – 2
Arriving into the series on the back of a triple century, Nair appeared to crumble under the mammoth weight of expectations. Aside from a poor outing with the bat, he also had a nightmarish time in the slip cordon.
54 runs from three matches at an average of 13.50