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India need to find stability in the pace bowling department before 2015 World Cup

Indian speedster Mohammed Shami (centre) has been in good form in recent times © Getty Images
Indian speedster Mohammed Shami (centre) has been in good form in recent times © Getty Images

 

India’s fast-bowling unit has often shown a lot of promise, but in the long-run, it fizzles out, as there is no consistency. Nishad Pai Vaidya examines a few stats post the 2011 World Cup.

 

Since the end of the 2011 World Cup, India have played as many as 15 frontline  pacers. Injuries, indifferent form, poor management and other factors haven’t allowed them to settle on a stable combination. Most of them have shone in patches, but rarely have they  performed as a unit. Save the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 and the One-Day International (ODI) tri-series held in the Caribbean, the pack has struggled to get its act together. The chinks in the armour are evident after the high scoring home series against Australia, and the first two  ODIs against South Africa.

 

Here is a table that records the statistics of the fast-bowlers who have played ODIs for India since the 2011 World Cup:

 

Bowler

 

M

W

Ave

ER

SR

BBI

4W

5W

R Vinay Kumar

29

36

36.13

5.85

37.0

4/30

1

0

Ishant Sharma

24

33

33.36

5.61

35.6

3/33

0

0

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

26

30

32.50

4.59

42.4

4/8

1

0

Umesh Yadav

24

28

40.07

6.08

39.5

3/32

0

0

Mohammed Shami

19

27

30.85

5.30

34.9

3/42

0

0

Irfan Pathan

13

21

28.38

5.40

31.4

5/61

1

1

Praveen Kumar

20

20

43.00

5.27

48.9

3/37

0

0

Munaf Patel

8

10

32.00

5.64

34.0

3/35

0

0

Ashok Dinda

8

9

42.66

6.27

40.7

2/47

0

0

Zaheer Khan

9

9

47.44

5.33

53.3

2/39

0

0

Jaydev Unadkat

7

8

26.12

4.01

39.0

4/41

1

0

Varun Aaron

4

6

26.00

5.53

28.1

3/24

0

0

Mohit Sharma

5

4

57.00

5.77

59.2

2/26

0

0

Rudra Pratap Singh

3

4

35.50

6.45

33.0

3/59

0

0

Abhimanyu Mithun

3

3

38.66

6.44

36.0

2/32

0

0

 

In all, India have played 71 ODIs after the last World Cup. The fact that no pacer has played more than 30 matches shows that none of the more experienced campaigners have held their spots in the long-run. The divide is clear: while the upper-half of the table shows that the leading bowlers (having played over 10 matches) have come and gone, the lower-half tells us that there are many who have filled  in as makeshift arrangements. At the top, there are quite a few who have played over 20 games. R Vinay Kumar has played the most matches  among thelot. However, with 29 matches to his name, he hasn’t featured in even half the games India have played since April 2011.

 

A look at the table also reveals quite a few intriguing details that articulate Indian bowlers struggle  in the recent past. In 71 matches, India’s fast-bowlers have only taken four four-wicket hauls and one fifer. Apart from Jaydev Unadkat and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, all bowlers have gone at a rate exceeding five an over. Plus, for bowlers who have played over ten matches, only Irfan Pathan averages under 30. Varun Aaron and Unadkat are the other bowlers who average in the 20s, but haven’t played more than 10 games.

 

These stats reflect the frequent chopping and changing in  the bowling department over the last two years. Let us take the example of India’s fortunes in 2013 for a clearer picture. Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar were part of India’s frontline pace-attack through the Champions Trophy in England and the tri-series in the Caribbean. As the year progressed, Yadav was dropped and Ishant’s terrible form also charted his exit from the team. Surprisingly, even Bhuvneshwar was made to sit out of a few games. Meanwhile, Vinay Kumar, Unadkat and Mohit Sharma came into the fold as well. By the time India played the second ODI against South Africa at Durban, Yadav and Ishant were back into the thick of things. It  is almost as if the  bowling line-up  has come around a full circle.

 

While these numbers show that the Indian pace bowlers haven’t done well, one can see immense talent in the roster. Yadav, Ishant and Bhuvneshwar  did very well during the early part of the year, and there is no reason why they cannot regain that touch. Plus there is Mohammed Shami who is in good form now. It is only a matter of maintaining their own personal form, but the team management also has to give them the confidence and backing to rise to their potential. A pack has to gel together as a unit to deliver in the long run.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

 

 

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