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India’s bowling struggles — Only Mohammed Shami averages under 40 in the last 13 ODIs

From left to right: Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin... India's bowlers have not been consistent enough from the second half of 2013 © AFP
From left to right: Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin… India’s bowlers have not been consistent enough from the second half of 2013 © AFP

India’s bowling thrived in the early part of 2013, but that form has fallen apart since. Nishad Pai Vaidya examines a few statistics which show that only one Indian bowler averages under 40 in the last 13 ODIs.

It was only seven months ago that India lifted the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in England with a team performance that made skipper MS Dhoni proud. It is often the Indian batting line-up that has stolen the limelight; but even the bowling rose to the occasion and delivered spells that turned the tide in India’s favour. In a long time, the Indian bowling looked potent and a real threat to the opposition — be it spin or seam. That continued into the One-Day International (ODI) tri-series that followed in the Caribbean and, not surprisingly, into the tour to Zimbabwe. However, in the last 13 ODIs, the whole army averages over 40, barring Mohammed Shami.

If one examines the first half of 2013 (until the end of the Zimbabwe tour) and the latter (including the first ODI of the tour to New Zealand in 2014), one would find two extremes. For the first half of the year, the Indians were on a roll. Ravindra Jadeja, in particular, was a force to reckon with and climbed the charts to become the No 1 bowler in the format. Ravichandran Ashwin was decent and those statistics do not reflect the crucial spells he bowled at times. Even Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were on song and kept taking wickets consistently.

Here are the stats:

M

W

Ave

SR

Eco

4W

5W

BB

Ravindra Jadeja

22

38

18.86

29.9

3.78

1

1

5/36

Ishant Sharma

17

29

25.03

28.0

5.36

0

0

3/33

Ravichandran Ashwin

17

24

30.20

36.5

4.96

0

0

3/39

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

16

23

22.69

33.6

4.06

1

0

4/8

Amit Mishra

5

18

11.61

15.8

4.4

1

1

6/48

Umesh Yadav

9

11

33.18

36.0

5.53

0

0

3/32

Mohammed Shami

11

10

42.50

55.2

4.61

0

0

2/25

Jaydev Unadkat

5

8

17.37

30.0

3.47

1

1

4/41

Mohit Sharma

2

3

17.00

32.0

3.18

0

0

2/26

Ashok Dinda

2

2

47.50

45.0

6.33

0

0

2/53

R Vinay Kumar

4

2

76.50

93.0

4.93

0

0

1/32

*Stats from January 1, 2013 to October 9, 2013.

Note: Only specialist bowlers included.

Now compare them to India’s bowling figures after the Australians arrived in October:

M

W

Ave

SR

Eco

4W

5W

BB

Mohammed Shami

10

24

22.16

21

6.32

1

0

4/55

Ravichandran Ashwin

13

16

42.5

46.4

5.49

0

0

2/37

Ravindra Jadeja

13

15

44.33

49.2

5.4

0

0

3/37

R Vinay Kumar

5

8

43.12

32.6

7.93

0

0

2/50

Ishant Sharma

6

7

48.42

42.8

6.78

1

0

4/40

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

10

6

77.33

84

5.52

0

0

2/56

Mohit Sharma

3

1

177

141

7.53

0

0

1/48

Umesh Yadav

2

1

102

90

6.8

0

0

1/57

Amit Mishra

1

0

-

-

7.8

0

0

-

Jaydev Unadkat

2

0

-

-

5.83

0

0

-

*Stats from October 9, 2013 to January 21, 2014

Note: Only specialist bowlers included.

The struggle has been very apparent in the last 13 ODIs. What is worrying is that even Ashwin and Jadeja haven’t maintained their form. The wickets were flat and there wasn’t much on offer during the high-scoring encounters. Plus, they then went to South Africa, where they couldn’t expect much help from the surfaces. On the other hand, Shami had a decent outing and even Ishant performed in one of the ODIs.

Thus, that very team-work is conspicuous by its absence. When India lifted the Champions Trophy, Jadeja stood out, but the others also did well. It was a collective effort that propelled India to a famous victory. India need to find that mojo again and as this year is crucial to their ICC World Cup 2015 plans. Starting now, i.e. from the New Zealand tour, India have to chalk out plans for all departments, with the major focus on the bowling.

Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar

In 2013, India discovered two promising bowlers in Shami and Bhuvneshwar. Their fortunes have been contrasting during the two time periods. In the first phase, it was Bhuvneshwar who dominated and stunned the opposition with his prodigious swing, only to see his form drop after the Australia series. Shami was in and out of the side before the Australia series and has cemented his spot since then.

At times, India err in handling fast-bowlers. Bhuvneshwar was terrific early on, but after three games where he struggled to find his form, he was benched. The question is: Does this unsettle the bowler? At first, you are doing well and a small struggle and you are benched. Bhuvneshwar’s woes weren’t as bad as Ishant’s to warrant a quick change, but since then, he hasn’t shown the craft consistently. India have to be wary of that and not met the same treatment to Shami, in case he runs into a rut. He is their brightest prospect for the future and it is imperative to back him.

(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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