India's Batsmen: Reconsidering Reputations After 2013/14 Winter Tests
India’s slate of Test matches this winter was brought to an end by a 1-0 defeat away to New Zealand, having suffered the same fate in South Africa.
Especially after their display against the Black Caps, there are a number of questions surrounding India’s batsmen and whether they impressed or disappointed in the four matches.
Some have seen their reputations enhanced by their performances away from home, while others may well be concerned that their place in the team is under threat.
Read on for a look at these individuals and whether their standing in the India team has been boosted or damaged after these two series defeats away from home.
All stats courtesy of ESPNCricinfo.
Enhanced: Virat Kohli
Against South Africa: 2 matches; 72 runs; 68.00 batting average; 119 highest score
Against New Zealand: 2 matches; 214 runs; 71.33 batting average; 105* highest score
Career batting average before South Africa series: 41.16
Career batting average after New Zealand series: 46.51
India’s senior batsman, Virat Kohli, showed he is capable of taking a leading role for his country in the middle order.
A century in each series shows his ability to bat away from home, and his return of 486 runs in four matches is an impressive one.
Some may have questioned if he would be able to at least somewhat fill the void left by Sachin Tendulkar after his retirement late last year.
These two series have shown that Kohli is more than able to do just that.
Enhanced: Ajinkya Rahane
Against South Africa: 2 matches; 209 runs; 69.66 batting average; 96 highest score
Against New Zealand: 2 matches; 162 runs; 54.00 batting average; 118 highest score
Career batting average before South Africa series: 4.00
Career batting average after New Zealand series: 47.37
Still very early in his Test career, Ajinkya Rahane has shown he has the ability to flourish at this level after the four matches away from home.
Batting at No. 6, Rahane scored his first Test century against New Zealand and proved that he could be a mainstay of India’s batting for many years to come.
Already highly regarded among those in Indian cricket, Rahane showed he is able to adapt to the highest form of the game, and he may well have earned himself a promotion in the order based on these performances.
No Change: Shikhar Dhawan
Against South Africa: 2 matches; 76 runs; 19.00 batting average; 29 highest score
Against New Zealand: 2 matches; 215 runs; 53.75 batting average; 115 highest score
Career batting average before South Africa series: 81.00
Career batting average after New Zealand series: 48.54
After such a fast start to his Test career, it was perhaps inevitable that Shikhar Dhawan would see his average drop noticeably after these four Tests.
Dhawan had a rather inconsistent time of it in these four matches, however, starting with a poor tour of South Africa that yielded only 76 runs at an average of 19 and a top score of 29.
However, when he arrived in New Zealand he performed very well, notching 215 runs at an average of 53.75 with a highest score of 115.
As such, he has not really enhanced or damaged his reputation, with both series evening themselves out somewhat.
He will hope that his return in New Zealand will be more the norm, however.
Verdict: No change
No Change: Cheteshwar Pujara
Against South Africa: 2 matches; 280 runs; 70.00 batting average; 153 highest score
Against New Zealand: 2 matches; 60 runs; 15.00 batting average; 23 highest score
Career batting average before South Africa series: 65.50
Career batting average after New Zealand series: 58.92
Cheteshwar Pujara was another to enjoy a very strong start to his Test career, and it was somewhat inevitable that his batting average would drop as he gained more experience.
He was another to enjoy an inconsistent time this winter, as he scored plenty of runs against South Africa but then struggled enormously in New Zealand.
As such, he does not enhance or undermine his reputation as a Test batsman on the basis of these two series, but he will want to regain his consistency as he moves forward.
Verdict: No change
Tarnished: Rohit Sharma
Against South Africa: 2 matches; 45 runs; 11.25 batting average; 25 highest score
Against New Zealand: 2 matches; 122 runs; 40.66 batting average; 72 highest score
Career batting average before South Africa series: 288.00
Career batting average after New Zealand series: 56.87
It is fair to say that Rohit Sharma will have wanted to perform far better in these four away Tests.
After such an incredible start to his Test match career, to see Sharma’s average drop so tremendously is telling as he only passed 50 on one occasion in these four games.
He could only manage 45 runs against the Proteas, which was a tremendously disappointing return for such a talented individual.
His tally of 122 against New Zealand was also disappointing, although it was an improvement on where he had been previously.
So much more is expected of him, but he was unable to deliver and will want to recover in India’s future matches.
Tarnished: Murali Vijay
Against South Africa: 2 matches; 148 runs; 37.00 batting average; 97 highest score
Against New Zealand: 2 matches; 48 runs; 12.00 batting average; 26 highest score
Career batting average before South Africa series: 38.20
Career batting average after New Zealand series: 25.24
Opener Murali Vijay has struggled mightily in these four Test matches, and he is one player whose place may be under real threat in the coming months.
A return of 148 runs in South Africa was not necessarily a bad return, although it was undoubtedly inflated by his 97 in Durban.
Things got even worse in New Zealand, as he managed just 48 runs and was above just two other players—bowlers Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami—in India’s batting averages.
He is another who promises much in international cricket but needs to start delivering consistently or else he will find himself out of the side.