@Ben_Wisden 4 minute read
Ben Gardner picks out a combined XI from an India-England Test series won by the home team and dominated by the ball.
Normally, picking a combined XI is a problem of plenty. There are usually enough standout performers across a lengthy Test encounter to make choosing between players tough, and someone who has done well has to miss out.
The India-England Test series, however, has been dominated by a select few players to such an extent that the opposite problem presents itself. Only three bowlers claimed 10 or more wickets, and only three top-six batsmen averaged more than 30. It meant we were tempted to pick Ben Foakes just for his glovework, or Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane on the basis of a sole score of note.
It’s certainly left our XI looking lopsided, with arguably only Rohit Sharma in his best position.
Wisden’s India v England team of the Test series – the picks
345 runs @ 57.50, 1 100, 1 50, HS: 161
The best batsman in the series by a distance. His hundred at Chennai made a mockery of a sharply turning surface, while his half-century in the third Test was also a match-winning innings. He has never been more important to India as a Test batsman. If he can improve his iffy overseas form in England this summer, greatness could yet beckon.
368 runs @ 46, 1 100, HS: 218; 6 wickets @ 23.50, BBI: 5-8
After a magnificent double hundred in the first Test, Joe Root failed to convert any of his five subsequent starts into a score of substance. Still, even if you take out that innings, he was England’s third-highest run-scorer this series.
172 runs @ 28.66, 2 50s, HS: 72
Even as he endures the longest trot of his international career so far, Virat Kohli made a pair of pristine half-centuries in some tough batting conditions to earn his spot in this team.
203 runs @ 25.37, 2 50s, HS: 82; 5 wickets @ 30.60, BBI: 4-89
A typically Stokesian 82 in the first innings of the series wasn’t the prelude to another otherworldly spell of form, with R Ashwin working the left-hander over. However, a lion-hearted final Test performance, making a half-century and taking four wickets with a stomach bug, means he earns his place.
Rishabh Pant (wk)
270 runs @ 54.00, 1 100, 2 50s; 8 catches, 5 stumpings
A magnificent series for Rishabh Pant, arguably the most exciting cricketer in the world right now. His take-down of Jack Leach in the first Test could have left England a bowler light for the rest of the series, had the Tauntonian not bounced back so strongly.
An unbeaten 58 in the second Chennai Test was quietly crucial, while his 101 in the decider was arguably the best innings of a Test career already packed full of them, with his reverse-lap off James Anderson surely a Road to Damascus moment for his dwindling detractors. His keeping has markedly improved too.
149 runs @ 29.83, 1 50, HS: 50*
After impressing on debut in Sri Lanka, Dan Lawrence was pushed up to No.3 with Zak Crawley injured and Jonny Bairstow rested. In hindsight, it was asking too much and he struggled. But installed back into the lower middle order for the final Test, Lawrence showed once more exactly why he’s so exciting, making two scores either side of 50.
181 runs @ 90.50, 2 50s, HS: 96*; 2 wickets @ 65.00, BBI: 1-1
Washington Sundar earns his spot in this team for his exploits with the bat. His first game 85 not out wasn’t enough to keep his spot due to a toothless spell with the ball, but an unbeaten 96 in the final game confirmed him as a batsman of promise.
32 wickets @ 14.71, 3 5WIs, BBI: 6-61; 189 runs @ 31.50, 1 100, HS: 106
R Ashwin had another excellent series with the ball while continuing his return to form with the bat. His hundred at Chennai put any English pitch moans into perspective, and he claimed at least three wickets in every innings of the series.
27 wickets @ 10.59, 4 5WIs, BBI: 6-38
Axar Patel has had an incredible start to his Test career, with Narendra Hirwani’s record of 31 wickets in his first three Tests only just left unbroken. Ravindra Jadeja has been arguably India’s most important player in home Tests in recent times. Axar ensured his absence was hardly felt one bit.
18 wickets @ 28.72, BBI: 4-54
Now firmly ensconced as England’s No.1 spinner, Jack Leach emerges as one of the few bright spots for England from this series. After getting a tonking from Pant in his first spell, it marks another remarkable fightback from a player making a habit of them.
8 wickets @ 15.87, BBI: 3-17
Miserly and masterful, James Anderson has now emphatically answered one of the few questions that remained over his overall record, continuing his excellent form from Sri Lanka to bring his bowling average in India under 30. Could he yet make an impact in Australia this winter?
Wisden’s India v England team of the Test series – the line-up
1. Rohit Sharma
2. Joe Root
3. Virat Kohli
4. Ben Stokes
5. Rishabh Pant (wk)
6. Dan Lawrence
7. Washington Sundar
8. R Ashwin
9. Axar Patel
10. Jack Leach
11. James Anderson
Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match awards, player interviews, analysis and much more.