The ODI series in Zimbabwe comprised of 3 Indian victories in Harare. Some players used the series to showcase their ability and send a message to the selectors that they are ready for more challenging assignments, while some failed to deliver. Here are the Indian player ratings;
Stuart Binny – 120 runs (average 60), 6 wickets (average 25.2)
The Karnataka all rounder enjoyed a hugely successful series, massively enhancing his reputation as a more than handy all rounder. With Ravindra Jadeja struggling for form, Binny’s performances will please India, as he now seems to be an excellent alternative to the left armer. Binny’s batting in this series far exceeded the performances Ravindra Jadeja has put in, in the recent past. His 77 in the first ODI was a masterful mix of patience and destructive power, the kind of innings that India have often looked to Jadeja for, and the kind Jadeja has delivered precious few times. For India to be fully convinced by Binny’s credentials as a replacement for the stalling Jadeja, though, the medium pacer may have to show more with the ball. His economy in this series of 5.6 is a touch expensive for a man who would often be called upon to bowl 10 overs. Still, his wicket taking ability combined with his brutal batting makes him an exciting prospect, and perhaps now puts him in pole position in the race for the all rounder’s slot full-time.
Harbhajan Singh – 4 wickets (average 27.5)
Rating – 8
An impressive showing by the experienced Punjabi off-spinner on his return to ODI cricket. Harbhajan showed his class in 3 excellent bowling performances, a continuation of the good form shown in the IPL. Although Harbhajan may have hoped for more wickets, he was able to tie the Zimbabwean batsmen down, with beautiful flight, dip and spin. An economy rate of 3.7 is superb in a format that is quickly becoming hugely bat-dominated. Harbhajan is another player who may benefit in the decline in form of Ravindra Jadeja. If India choose to play Binny at 7, it could allow the selectors to choose another spinner alongside Ravi Ashwin. After this set of performances, that man would surely be Harbhajan Singh.
Kedar Jadhav – 126 runs (average 63)
Rating – 8
Things did not look good for the thirty year old right hander, after two low scores in the first 2 matches. And when Jadhav walked to the crease at 82-4, with the best part of thirty overs still to bat, the pressure was really on. What followed was a spectacular demonstration of touch and power, that propelled the Indian innings. Another spot potentially up for grabs was the number 5 slot full time in the Indian team. Jadhav’s 105 not out was almost the perfect innings of a number 5 batsman, with the frequent boundary hitting a real positive. Who knows, this could be the innings that puts Kedar Jadhav firmly in the minds of the selectors when choosing India’s next ODI squad.
Dhawal Kulkarni – 2 wickets (average 49.5)
Rating – 4
A disappointing outing for the Mumbai man. This series provided a good chance for Kulkarni to push for a full time slot as one of India’s seamers. However, following this poor display against Zimbabwe, it is hard to see him being considered for India’s next ODI assignment. His economy of 5.5 illustrates that he struggled with line and length, often giving the batsmen easy deliveries to score from. With good showings from Stuart Binny and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kulkarni may have to wait a little while before his next chance.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar – 5 wickets (average 16)
Rating – 9
Comfortably India’s best bowler. Kumar showed control with the new ball that was unmatched by any of his fellow pacers, swinging the ball both ways, even if the movement was not quite as dramatic as what we have seen from him before. Batsmen found it difficult to rotate strike whilst facing his high quality bowling, with his outswinger beating the edge of many a bamboozled Zimbabwe batsman. At the death, his ability to pull out a yorker under pressure was highly impressive, especially considering India’s frequent struggles in the latter stages. With brilliant powerplay and death bowling, it is still confusing why he has not been a guaranteed starter for at least a year now. However, if he can follow on from this impressive tour, his place will be set in stone.
Manish Pandey – 71 runs (average 71)
Rating – 8
Pandey had only one opportunity to show what he could do and he grasped it with both hands, playing a mature innings of someone playing their 101st ODI, not their first. He marshalled India through trouble and, although he had to occasionally control his attacking instincts, he scored relatively freely throughout his innings. Although he would have been disappointed not to have seen the innings through, he took India to safety. Do not be surprised if he makes an appearance in India’s next ODI squad.
Axar Patel – 3 runs (average 3), 5 wickets (average 24)
Axar Patel would have gone into the Zimbabwe series knowing that a strong set of all-round performances would push him towards future selection at number 7. While Axar’s performances with the ball were solid, his batting form means he has no right to be considered for the all rounder’s role at the moment. Following yet another single figure score, he was pushed down to number 9, below Harbhajan, for the 2nd ODI. HIs disappointing batting performances mean he has probably fallen below Stuart Binny in the pecking order in the tussle for the all rounder’s slot and Harbhajan Singh’s impressive display means he is probably not the 2nd choice spinner after Ashwin, either. Patel is only 21 and is still a very promising cricketer.
Ajiknkya Rahane (c) – 112 runs (average 37.3)
Rating – 6
A curious series in many ways for Rahane. In his first taste of international captaincy, he was proactive with field settings and, of course, oversaw a 3-0 series win. However, on the batting front, Rahane’s fortunes were mixed, passing fifty once in three innings. Batting at the top of the order, Rahane once again showed he is a more than capable replacement, should one of Shikhar Dhawan or Rohit Sharma be unavailable. But perhaps the patient way in which he was forced to bat did not help his cause for a middle order slot, which would be a more likely position for Rahane. We can only wonder if Rahane himself would have preferred a chance to show what he can do in the middle order. Still, Rahane’s solid technique and temperament mean he will always be there or thereabouts.
Ambati Rayudu – 165 runs (average 165)
Rating – 9
In his two innings, Rayudu showed why he is the man who is currently in possession of the number 5 slot in the first-choice team. A dazzling century which earned him man of the match in the first ODI and a handy 41 showed why he has been reasonably successful in his short ODI career so far. Batting at three, Rayudu showed off his wonderful ball striking capabilities and probably made himself the favourite to be batting at 5 when India next turn out in blue.
Did not play
A late call-up following injury to Rayudu. Will get his chance in the future, although he may have been pushing Tiwary for selection in the last ODI.
Did not play
The leggie was not likely to play, but as Axar Patel was batting at 9 anyway, he may have been considered for the final ODI in place of the left arm spinner.
Mohit Sharma – 2 wickets (average 16.5)
Rating – 7
Played only the last ODI and put in a solid performance. Often troubled the Zimbabwean batsmen with pace and used his wonderfully disguised back-of-the-hand slower ball to good effect. After a wonderful world cup, Mohit would have been keen for a good performance, but may now struggle to get in the team ahead of Kumar, Yadav and Harbhajan.
Did not play
Perhaps unlucky not to feature at all. India must have been tempted to select him alongside Kumar, which would have given Rahane a potentially lethal combination of yorker-bowlers at the death.
Manoj Tiwary – 34 runs (average 11.3)
Rating – 3
A woeful series and probably the worst of the Indian batsmen overall. Struggled consistently to get going and was optimised by an ugly 33-ball 10 in the final ODI. Many would have been disappointed to see him preferred to the exciting Samson, but the selectors stuck with the Bengal batsman. Unfortunately, he failed to deliver and will now have to go back to state cricket and score big runs in List-A matches, to attract the attention of the selectors once more.
Robin Uthappa – 44 runs (average 14.7)
Rating – 4
Showed once again that he is an extremely competent wicket keeper and, although he struggled badly, he is probably still India’s second choice to MS Dhoni. He was unlucky with a run out and an excellent delivery in the second game and if he keeps scoring runs in IPL cricket, he will probably cement himself as the regular captain’s understudy. He had a chance to push for the number 5 slot full time, but missed the opportunity.
Murali Vijay – 86 runs (average 28.7)
Rating – 5
Man of the match in the second game, but showed that test match batting is still very much his strength. In his 72 in the second ODI, he was only able to hit 3 boundaries, and his cautious style of leaving and blocking a lot of balls in the powerplay would not be in India’s favour in big run chases. It leaves Vijay with a hard choice – he can either try and re-invent himself, to become a more aggressive top order player, with the risk of losing his natural instinct of leaving the ball well which has served him so well in test matches, or he can be content that he will perhaps never be a Dhawan/Warner dasher at the top and focus on honing his already brilliant test skills. Either way, it would be a surprise to see Vijay in the next ODI squad.