The stats that matter for the Australians in India

Glenn Mitchell Columnist

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    Seven months after a 3-nil series loss in Sri Lanka, Australia has gone down to 2-1 to India.

    Sri Lanka is ranked number seven in the world while India is a clear number one, losing just one Test in its past 23.

    This latest trip to the subcontinent has indicated improvement in testing conditions but there is still a way to go before it can be said it is near an even footing in that part of the cricketing world.

    As is always the case, the players’ personal stocks varied.

    Matt Renshaw: 6 (232 runs at 29.0)
    Turning 21 on the last day of the final Test, Renshaw looked unflappable throughout the series.

    There was doubt in some circles prior to the first match as to whether he should be in the XI. He started with a masterful 68 in the first innings at Pune in conditions that would have been completely foreign. He followed that with 60 at Bangalore and 44 at Ranchi.

    His performances tailed away as the series wore on. He also dropped a vital chance at Dharamsala.

    At such a tender age, he will be better for the experience and is a certain starter for the Ashes.

    David Warner: 3 (193 runs at 24.1)
    Warner’s woes on the road continued. As vice-captain and an experienced opener, his series was simply not good enough. From 16 innings in India, he now averages 24.2.

    Ravi Ashwin continued to be his nemesis, picking him up three times as he extended his hold over Warner to nine dismissals, the most of any bowler in Tests.

    Just as he was looking good at Ranchi, Warner hit a return catch off a full toss to Ravindra Jadeja. It took him until the last Test to reach 50.

    If the selectors continue with a ‘horses for courses’ policy, his place in squads to the subcontinent must be in question. He also struggled in the field too, grassing three catches early on at leg slip.

    Steve Smith: 9 (499 runs at 71.3)
    Once again, Smith led by example with three centuries. The first of them, in the second innings at Pune, was one of his finest, and was followed by knocks of 178* at Ranchi and 111 in the first innings at Dharamsala.

    He has seven centuries in his past eight Tests against India. Again, the home side lacked an apparent strategy to bring about his downfall. The team must be able to support him better in the future and not allow him to be the sole barometer of the side’s batting performance.

    When he fell in the second innings at Dharamsala, there was a universal feeling that Australia’s hopes departed with him. His self-confessed “brain fade” with the DRS at Bangalore was an unwanted sidelight. He was, again, easily his side’s best player.

    Steve Smith celebrates a run out

    Shaun Marsh: 4 (151 runs at 18.9)
    Picked as a subcontinent specialist, his selection proved to be a failure. At 33 years of age and with a 23-Test average of 36.0, we have likely seen his last series in the baggy green.

    He looked good for 66 in the first innings at Bangalore and his half-century at Ranchi helped stave off defeat, while his other six innings comprised 16 and five scores under 10.

    It has been a perennial problem – handy innings interspersed with numerous failures. He will surely lose his place to Usman Khawaja for the first Test of the Ashes series.

    Peter Handscomb: 5.5 (198 runs at 28.3)
    Yes, it was his first Test tour of India, but more was expected from Handscomb. He has long been touted as an excellent player of spin, however aside from his unbeaten 72 at Ranchi, he was unable to make an impression.

    One single-figure score was accompanied by six between 16-22. When you get starts like that, some of those innings need to be converted into significant scores. Like Renshaw, he will be better for the experience, and will be in the first Test at Brisbane next summer.

    Mitchell Marsh: 1 (48 runs at 12.0, 0-6)
    The younger Marsh fared worse than his brother. A shoulder injury saw him fly home after the second Test. He was likely to be omitted anyway.

    He averaged 27 in Sri Lanka and less than half that in this series. He was trapped dead in front in the first innings at Pune by Jadeja, having failed to pick his straight one. He was unlucky at Bangalore when one from Ishant Sharma crept along the pitch.

    Selected as an all-rounder, he sent down just five overs in his two appearances. A prolonged successful, injury-free period at Sheffield Shield level is needed before he can again be considered for Test selection.

    Glenn Maxwell: 7.5 (159 runs at 39.7, 0-18)
    Mitch Marsh’s misfortune proved a godsend for Maxwell. Overlooked initially, despite numerous supporters, he seized the opportunity.

    His 185-ball innings of 104 in his first knock at Ranchi showcased what he is capable of when he shelves the unorthodox.

    His reaction to his maiden Test century smacked of a man who felt he finally belonged after some uncertain times on the outer. He top-scored with 45 in Australia’s calamitous series conceding 137 at Dharamsala.

    He is almost certain to be at number six at the Gabba. Again, Smith used him sparingly at the bowling crease, sending down a mere six overs.

    His place in the team next summer potentially opens the door for Australia to throw a four-prong pace attack at England early in the Ashes series.

    Australia Test player Glenn Maxwell raises his bat

    Matthew Wade: 6.5 (196 runs at 32.7)
    No one was under more scrutiny pre-series than Wade. Safe to say, he performed better than most expected. The pitches at Pune and Bangalore were as difficult for wicketkeepers as they were for batsmen.

    While he may not look copybook he was, in the main, effective in trying conditions. His batting improved as the series progressed, with his half-century in the first innings at Dharamsala helping his side scramble to 300.

    You get the feeling that Wade will be under the microscope every Test he plays, especially with Peter Nevill having averaged 56.8 in the Sheffield Shield this season. Expect Wade to be behind the stumps at Brisbane.

    Mitchell Starc: 7 (118 runs at 29.5, five wickets at 30.2)
    Injury to Starc saw him only feature in the opening two Tests, in which he made an impact. His swashbuckling, counter-attacking 61 at Pune rescued Australia from 6-190 and took them to 260, as he scored nearly every run in that period.

    He removed Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in the space of two deliveries in India’s first innings, the latter for a morale-boosting duck. He narrowly missed a hat-trick in India’s second innings at Bangalore.

    Pat Cummins: 6.5 (33 runs at 11.0, eight wickets at 30.2)
    The selectors rolled the dice with Cummins. He was being nursed back to first-class cricket in readiness for the Ashes but when Starc went down with the series alive, he was on the plane on the back of 8-104 in his first Sheffield Shield match in over five years.

    It was a risk that paid off. In two matches, Cummins bowled 77 overs and his raw pace set up many wicket-taking opportunities, not all of them being grasped.

    On the low and slow pitch at Ranchi he was still able to extract bounce, and at times at Dharamsala he would have reminded England of the threat he will pose next summer. Expect him to play a major role in the Ashes.

    Pat Cummins Cricket Australia 2017 tall

    Josh Hazlewood: 6.5 (6 runs at 2.0, nine wickets at 32.8)
    Once again, Hazlewood did what he does best – plugging away in a no-nonsense fashion. His 6-67 in India’s second innings at Bangalore was a masterful performance.

    In concert with Cummins, the pair ignited the game early on the second day of the final Test with a prolonged spell of fiery and incisive pace bowling. Early in the series, when Starc was at times bleeding runs, Hazlewood’s miserly efficiency kept India under wraps.

    Steve O’Keefe: 7 (45 runs at 7.5, 19 wickets at 23.3)
    O’Keefe’s pair of 6-35s at Pune was the stuff of dreams. On a pitch that turned square from the start, he used the footmarks to torment India’s batsmen. The last three Tests produced seven wickets at 53.1.

    One of his trademarks at first-class level is his miserly economy rate. At times, he slowed the scoreboard in this series. At Pune, his slider undid several of the Indian batsmen.

    As the series wore on they became more adept at handling it. For a player with a first-class batting average of 27.6, he offered little with the willow.

    Nathan Lyon: 7 (31 runs at 3.9, 19 wickets at 25.3)
    The second Test at Bangalore provided polar opposites for Lyon. A career-best 8-50 on the opening day was followed by 0-82 in the second innings. One of the knocks on him during his career has been his inability to make solid inroads late in a match.

    Bangalore was yet another example. He toiled through 46 overs at Ranchi for just the one wicket before claiming 5-92 in the first innings at Dharamsala.

    On balance, throughout the series he looked slightly more threatening than O’Keefe. He needs two more wickets to equal Richie Benaud’s career tally of 248, leaving only Shane Warne ahead of him in the list of Australian wicket-taking spinners.

    Glenn Mitchell
    Glenn Mitchell

    After 21 years as a sports broadcaster with the ABC, since mid-2011 Glenn Mitchell has been freelancing in the electronic and written media. He is an ambassador for mental health in Australia, and tweets from @mitchellglenn.

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