New Delhi: India's landmark 4-0 whitewash of Australia featured clutch performances by a crop of young players who pitched in match-winning turns that shoved Australia on the back foot and masked over the struggles and absence of more experienced players. Shikhar Dhawan stepped up in his Test innings with a memorable century; Murali Vijay made a strong return to the format to push for longer selection in tougher conditions; Ravindra Jadeja proved a marvel with the ball, finishing as the second-highest wicket-taker.
Here, Cricketnext takes a close look at what India's young generation of players did to help reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Murali Vijay: 430 runs at 61.42, two hundreds, one fifty
The leading run-scorer on either side in the series with 430 runs at 61.41, including two consecutive hundreds, Vijay continued his strong affinity for Australian bowling. Started off mutely in Chennai but reeled off 167 in Hyderabad, 153 in Mohali and made a solid 57 in the first innings in Delhi. His cool head at the top was in stark contrast to Virender Sehwag's slap-dash ways, and as Vijay himself admitted a couple times, he had worked hard at occupation of the crease. Very strong returns from a batsman recalled in place of dropped veteran, but his real Test will come in South Africa later this year.
Cheteshwar Pujara: 419 runs at 83.80, one hundred, two fifties
Second in the run charts behind Vijay, the 25-year-old batsman was at his best during the last innings of the series. Pujara's unbeaten 82 off 92 balls in the second innings of the Delhi Test turned a tricky chase into a stroll and took the conditions out of the equation. It was further proof that Pujara is an exceptional talent. His 204 in Hyderabad was a match-winning effort in every sense of the word, and coated in a confidence that augurs well for the future of Indian cricket.
Shikhar Dhawan: 187 runs at 187, one century
Dhawan batted just once, but left an immediate and perhaps indelible mark with 187 off 174 balls to become Test cricket's fastest debut centurion. Called up as a replacement for Virender Sehwag, Dhawan marked his first innings at Test level with a superlative effort that reeked of assuredness and bullishness. His confidence-coated, boundary-laden 187 dominated India's first double-century stand against Australia and their seventh best of all time, and made him a shoo-in for Man of the Match.
R Ashwin: 29 wickets at 20.10, strike-rate of 49.9, four five-wicket hauls
Ashwin came into the series searching for a way to bounce back after a poor run of form against England, and ended it Man of the Series for his 29 wickets , which included four five-wicket hauls. Ashwin learned from a disappointing England series and didn't rely so much on variation as he did good old-fashioned flight and length. This made him the go-to bowler for MS Dhoni, which a team in transition so desperately needed. With this series, Ashwin took back the mantle of No. 1 bowler from Pragyan Ojha.
Ravindra Jadeja: 24 wickets at 17.45, strike-rate of 48.3, one five-wicket haul
Radeja took 24 wickets at a better average, economy rate and strike rate than any bowler to quell criticism of his caliber as a Test bowler, and after four Tests proved himself a very effective fifth-bowling option in Indian conditions. His mantra was simple: pitch the ball in line with the stumps and put some revs on it. That worked excellently given the conditions, and Jadeja plugged away to take five three-wicket hauls and a maiden five-for in the last Test. Crucially, he made Michael Clarke his bunny by having his number five of six times. Jadeja's batting was a letdown, barring a brisk 43 in Delhi, but as a bowler and fielder he emerged a big asset for India.
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