India’s tour of England was a much-anticipated series. The fans witnessed excellent rivalry, sublime stroke-play, lethal spells apart from eye-catching work on the field. Though the scoreline of the series – 4-1, suggests a rather one-sided affair, in reality, it was a hard fought set of matches.
At Birmingham, Virat Kohli’s men went down fighting, resulting in a 31-run narrow win for the hosts. At the Home of Cricket- Lord’s, the poms handed an innings defeat to the visiting team.
The series could have been done and dusted at Nottingham, but an inspirational comeback from the Indians ensured Southampton turns houseful. India lost the 4th Test by 60 runs, as England followed it up with a handsome 118-run victory at The Oval.
Now, we take a look at a combined Test XI featuring the best of cricketers from the recently-concluded Test series. Let us know, your XI too.
1. Alastair Cook
The England opener finished his last Test series with 327 runs. But the fact of the matter is that the 33-year-old scored more than 200 runs in the fifth and final Test match.
The former skipper announced his retirement ahead of the fifth Test, and by then England had already sealed the series 3-1, and he felt there is not much left in the tank which could motivate him to return next season.
Alastair Cook ended on a high just like his team. His drives through the off-side and the dabs on the on-side were complimented with applause.
2. Moeen Ali
Both the sides struggled to get solid starts throughout the Test series. While Cook lost count of the number of times he had to open an innings with a new face, India’s Shikhar Dhawan’s best performance of the series turned out to be the two-minute bhangra in front of the spectators at The Oval.
With the ball, Moeen Ali was magic. He bagged 12 wickets with a best of 5/63 that ensured a series win for the hosts. When it comes to batting, Ali scored 119 runs in two matches with a best of 50.
3. Cheteshwar Pujara
The curse of being Cheteshwar Pujara will someday make a great story. The right-hand batsman scored a total of 278 runs at an average close to 40.
An unbeaten 132 was the highlight for him, after getting dropped from the 1st Test. While he is known to consume the pressure and ensure that the ball turns an oldie, Pujara was far from his best.
India needed a strong guard who could complement the skipper. Pujara was hit in bits and pieces but failed to make a strong impact overall, resulting in a series loss.
4. Virat Kohli
The 29-year-old India captain put all the queries of his ill-form in England to rest. Virat Kohli fetched 593 runs at an average of 59.30. He started off with a magnificent 149 in the first Test match and batted with precision. With three fifties and two tons, he is way ahead of all the other batters.
The leader in Kohli might not have risen to the occasion all the time, but the willow did do the talking.
Virat Kohli is the only cricketer to have faced more than 1000 balls in the series and made the highlight package worth a watch.
5. Ben Stokes
There were clouds looming over his selection in the playing XI but Ben Stokes gave his 100% with both the bat and ball.
Ben Stokes stitched vital partnerships in the middle and picked up wickets at crucial intervals. With 200 runs and 14 wickets under his kitty, Stokes turned out to be an asset.
6. Jos Buttler
Let’s not put too much attention on what he writes in his bat because Jos Buttler has been England’s leading man whole through the season. He threatened to take the game away from India at Trent Bridge with a gutsy hundred and kept finding the gaps at a time when others struggled to put bat to ball.
He is second on the list with most runs scored in the series – 349 runs at an average of 38.77. And is the perfect man to replace Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps.
7. Sam Curran
The Surrey all-rounder is the find of the series for England. The Indian bowlers had a tough time breaching his promising stay at the crease. Sam Curran stood tall between victory and India and as the scoreline suggests, he won most of the battles hands down.
He scored 272 runs and scalped 11 wickets. The youngster keeps experienced campaigner Chris Woakes at bay, as he is the elite all-rounder in the XI.
8. Ravindra Jadeja
The India all-rounder had to polish off his sword after being out in the cold for most part of the season. But the street smart cricketer made his case with an unbeaten 86 off 156 balls. He batted well with the tail-enders and took India to a respectable total.
He bagged a total of seven wickets at The Oval but ended up on the losing side. Jadeja is a captain’s delight, as he is also a sharp fielder.
9. Stuart Broad
The veteran pacer bagged a total of 16 wickets in the series. He along with James Anderson troubled the Indians which resulted in 40 wickets in total. On a larger picture, Broad would have thought of claiming more sticks but with all the English bowlers doing their job to perfection, the pacer did well to sum it up.
10. Ishant Sharma
He is aggressive, knows his game well and is currently India’s spearhead bowler. India missed him dearly in the final Test match. Ishant Sharma walked off the field with ankle pain and India were a bowler short.
Ishant troubled the Englishmen in their own backyard. The Indian Indian pacer battery did a commanding job and the Delhi pacer deserves much of the credit.
11. James Anderson
The most successful pacer in the history of Test cricket is the final addition to the XI. Jimmy Anderson was England’s main man with the ball and he led in style. Though he failed to bag the prized scalp of Kohli, even after getting former to edge a few, Anderson is a hero at the end of the tale.
At 36, he played all the five Test matches, picked 24 wickets and helped his side win the series. You just can’t ask for more from an elite performer like him.