For a long time, a very long time, India’s bowling had been considered its biggest folly in the limited overs format. Save for a few phrases here and there, the Indian swing bowling unit has struggled to consistently be a force to reckon with in the past couple of decades. Over the years, several captains have torn their hair in frustration as a bowler after bowler faltered on crucial occasions and lost India some very important matches.
Indian cricket fans have always envied teams like Pakistan, South Africa and Australia, who have had such robust bowling units. The fans have longed for a decent bowling attack of their own to back their superstar batsmen. The way things turned in the past few months, it appears that their prayers have finally been answered.
The Indian bowling attack in the ongoing Champions Trophy in England is, undoubtedly, the best they have produced in a very long time. The sheer variety, skill, and confidence that this swing bowling unit possesses make them one of the best in the world at present. Yes, they failed to control Sri Lanka in a big run chase in the league match of the Champions Trophy but that was more due to the placid conditions than any serious shortcoming from their part.
“If the Indian team management can somehow ensure that they do not overburden the current crop of bowlers and try to keep them relatively injury free, then this attack has the potential to become one of Indian cricket’s finest ever.”
There are many reasons to believe so.
Yadav has been absolutely sensational this season and has almost played every single game for India. Notorious for bowling down the leg-side and always leaking runs, Umesh has found a way to be more disciplined and now bowls with much better control. He has great pace and can swing the ball both ways beautifully.
Yadav also has the knack of picking up wickets at the top with his swing and seam and has been doing it with consistency in this last season. What is more impressive is that Umesh is one of the fittest bowlers around and loves to bowl as many overs as he can. His seam, swing bowling and control have troubled the best batsmen. Even though he may not have taken wickets in bulk, he has played a vital role in India’s successful 2016/17 season.
Bhuvneshwar has become India’s most improved seam bowler in the past year. The scrawny Indian seamer always had discipline along with an ability to swing the ball. However, lack of pace and regular injuries hindered his progress in international cricket. Bhuvneshwar has now made a strong return and is looking at his sharpest.
After ending the IPL as the leading wicket-taker, he has impressed in the Champions Trophy as well. What’s more, he has added some pace to his repertoire and also bowls very effective yorkers at the death. Clearly, Bhuvneshwar’s terrific revival augurs well for Indian cricket.
Bumrah has played just 14 ODIs and 24 T20Is and yet he has won the confidence of the team and fans everywhere. Bumrah came to the fore because of his unorthodox action and his ability to bowl lethal yorkers with remarkable consistency. Over the past year, he has developed myriad variations in his bowling and looks like a complete package.
He is hard to pick and varies his lengths astutely. He has been outfoxing batsmen with his cutters and slower ones and now has added an incredible slower yorker to his arsenal. Bumrah provides that much-needed cushion to India in the death overs when batsmen go for broke. He will be a key member of the team for some time to come.
Shami was the third-highest wicket-taker of the 2015 World Cup. He also had become India’s lead bowler then. However, regular injuries ruled him out of cricket for a good year or so. But Shami has come back fit and raring to go. From what little so far witnessed of him after his return, Shami still has the pace, bounce and seam movement with him.
Although he isn’t getting an opportunity in the playing eleven at the moment, an in-form Shami can be a massive boost for India. He uses pace in his swing bowling to snare wickets when needed. He will definitely play a big role in India’s upcoming future.
After the Champions Trophy, the next big target for Indian cricket would obviously be the 2019 World Cup. The team already has a fair number of spectacular batsmen in its ranks. But they can really be a force to reckon with if this bowling unit get some proper training as it has the ability to take Team India to its greatest heights.
On this very same context, newly-retired pacer Ashish Nehra rates India’s bowling attack as one of the best and said the first Test against Sri Lanka on a “green” Eden wicket was an ideal preparation for the hosts ahead of their gruelling tour of South Africa.
India will embark on a two-month long tour of South Africa where they will play three Tests, six ODIs, and three T20s starting January 5 next year in Cape Town.
Indian batsmen might have struggled in overcast conditions on a green top in Kolkata, but it provides them with the perfect opportunity to prepare for the grueling overseas tour.
According to Nehra, The Eden wicket was good preparation for India’s tour of South Africa. In South Africa, the ball will have carry and lateral movement. This (Eden) wicket was giving them a good test of roughly what lies ahead.
“It does not swing much here. To be honest I don’t remember when we played on such a wicket. Because of rain, there is more moisture underneath and it is helping seam and swing bowlers.
The former left-arm pacer also hailed India’s bench strength in the fast bowling department, which according to him is a must for a team in the current busy international schedule.
“It is one of the best Indian attacks. Ishant and (Jasprit) Bumrah are not there (in Tests) and but still, we have a good pool of five, six pacers. Looking at the amount of cricket we have been playing we need five, six bowlers in Test cricket as well in other formats,” Nehra said in Kolkata on Friday.
A fit-again Dale Steyn is yet to return to South Africa’s squad after a one-year hiatus but Nehra said India has talismanic captain Virat Kohli to counter such threats.
“I don’t think India will be under pressure in South Africa. I hear a lot of talks that they have Steyn and (Kagiso) Rabada, we have Kohli and he is always ready to perform in adverse conditions,” Nehra, who made his commentary debut in the ongoing India-Sri Lanka Test, said.
“I expect (Mohammad) Shami to come good in South Africa. Considering Dale Steyn and their good bowling unit, Shami could be a good competitor,” he added.
After all, India for so long considered as a weak bowling unit that it’s refreshing to see such a proficient bunch of bowlers coming to the fore. Here is hoping that they live up to potential and usher in a new era in Indian cricket: one where bowlers will rule the roost.