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The Indian bowlers toiled hard in their tour matches against Leicestershire and Derbyshire. The buzz is already doing the rounds that this could be another mediocre attack. Abhijit Banare reviews the Indian pace line-up and highlights the points that stand in India’s favour.
In the thrilling two-Test series against Sri Lanka, James Anderson bagged the Man of the Match series from the England camp for toiling hard on wickets which they were not well-prepared for. English conditions usually offer good swing and seam movement, which Asian batsmen often succumb to early in the series. Anderson and his senior partner Stuart Broad had to toil hard as the Tests progressed. In a few days’ time, the Indian pacers will have to bowl in similar conditions.
Ishant Sharma: Regardless of all the jokes made at this expense, Ishant is still one of the better options for MS Dhoni in these conditions. While he was blasted for his erratic performance in the One-Day Internationals since October 2013, he put up an impressive performance in South Africa and especially in New Zealand at Wellington. Ishant gets seam movement which will be critical as the test progresses. You can’t rely on the ball to swing all through the match. But as goes with this bowler, his inconsistency is a bigger threat than the opposition batsmen’s skill.
Mohammed Shami: Interesting prospect for India. Early days for him, but Mohammed Shami has shown the mettle to last in overseas conditions. In New Zealand he toiled hard but the wickets column doesn’t really do justice to his efforts. Along with Ishant, he was the most impressive seamer overseas in the last two series.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Genuine swing bowler who is yet to prove his abilities in maintaining consistency throughout a match. As mentioned above, swing is not going to permanent. And in the absence of it, Bhuvneshwar’s looks pedestrian with lack of pace to unsettle the batsmen. The third pacer spot is still open for India with Bhuvneshwar, Pankaj Singh and Varun Aaron in contention.
Varun Aaron: When he started out, it was all about pace. But post his injury last year, Aaron has looked much more consistent. Though the return to the Indian team wasn’t impressive, he did well in the Indian premier League. An unlikely bowler to be included in the playing XI considering the other options available.
Pankaj Singh: Another quality pacer who has gone through the grind in the domestic season. Pankaj is equally good with swing and seam, and if a scenario arises of India going with four pacers, he could pip Aaron in to the playing XI. However, it is unlikely Dhoni will opt for a gamble and start with him immediately.
Stuart Binny – The underdog: In case of a fourth seamer rather than an extra spinner, Dhoni might as well consider Stuart Binny, who has good batting abilities. The burly all-rounder hogged the limelight at the right time when he presented exceptional abilities on a friendly wicket in Bangladesh. That one performance has rested his place in the side and some are already backing him to be a key part of the tour.
Where does this pace attack stand in comparison to 2011?
Even during the last tour, India had travelled with as many as five pacers, and RP Singh was later drafted in to the side. Even back then, Zaheer Khan was the only experienced bowler while Ishant, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel and S Sreesanth had managed to settle in to the side regularly. In terms of experience, the current side is surely lacking, but in terms of skill, the this attack is better equipped to deal with the conditions.
Lack of Experience
There’s little past record to bank upon for this set of pacers. In fact, one of the jokes on social media showed James Anderson alone with 355 Test wickets and the Indian pacers together account for 203. Sometimes though, a lack of past burden allows players to carve their own way. Shami in particular has shown the difference by maintaining the consistency at 140+ kmph in New Zealand.
What to learn from Sri Lanka:
Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Pradeep and Dhammika Prasad — all three of whom combined are less experienced than Ishant Sharma — did far better than their England counterparts. While the English pacers struck in patches, they did a basic job of keeping it full. Sometimes adhering to the basics becomes the most difficult task. Take for example, Prasad’s spell on Day Four of the second test. On a pitch where nothing much was on offer, Prasad managed to get the seam movement and kept his accuracy rather than trying too many variations. The jittery confidence of England’s batsmen meant that they committed the mistakes, while the bowlers enjoyed success.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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