The fast bowlers… (From top left clockwise) Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma and Varun Aaron © IANS, PTI and Getty Images
It is fascinating that five out of the top six wicket-takers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 are Indian bowlers, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.
Bowling was never considered India’s strongest suit in limited-overs cricket. The batsmen are the ones who have usually dominated and made a mark with big records. However, in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, it has been heartening to see the Indian bowlers bowl some effective spells and putting in a much improved performance. It is worth noting that five out of the top six wicket-takers in the IPL 2014 are Indians. Compare that to the leading run-getters list, an Indian only features in the sixth spot. Logic may say that this is an anomaly.
The likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, Pravin Tambe and Varun Aaron have been in great form this year. In this list, it is great to see five seamers. Tambe is the odd one out with his leg-spin, but his story is truly inspirational. It isn’t just the fact that he has taken wickets, but has made them count, coming in situations where Rajasthan completely turned the game. His hat-trick against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is the best example in this regard.
On other counts as well, Tambe is the odd one out as he isn’t likely to play for India. At the age of 42, it is unlikely that he would be considered for T20 Internationals, and India do not play that format a lot with Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODIs) dominating most tours. However, the others are very much in the national radar, with Sandeep being the only one who is uncapped. The former under-19 swing bowler has the goods and has already had two good seasons in domestic cricket. This IPL is only going on to enhance his reputation and could prove crucial in his graduation to a higher level.
But, taking the other three into account, the Indian think-tank would be most happy with their performances. Bhuvneshwar is the one whose performance has been most encouraging. A swing bowler, he made an impact since his international debut in late 2010 and has been in India’s side since then. However, he was normally restricted to the new ball as his skills at the death weren’t considered any good. This season, he has worked on that flaw to bowl some good spells at the death. He hits the yorker length regularly and has kept the batsmen quiet. For India’s plans, this is a crucial development as they can now rely on him for consistency at the death.
Mohit continues to excel for Chennai and what he lacks in pace, he makes up for it with some discipline. There have been occasions where he has been taken for runs, but has also bounced back well in other spells. He continues to be a fixture in the Chennai bowling and may even go on to become the leader of the attack if Ben Hilfenhaus is kept out for too long. India may continue to call him for ODIs and T20s if he continues to maintain this intensity.
Aaron is an out and out quick and India would be happy he is delivering the results with wickets. After coming back last season, he was immediately drafted into the Indian side for the ODIs in New Zealand and then travelled to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup and the ICC World T20 2014. It shows that the selectors are interested in his development as the Indian attack does need the pace dimension. He has been hitting the right areas, unafraid to pitch it short to surprise the batsmen. Aaron has to show that consistency as he tends to be expensive at times. This tournament could prove to be a turning point for him.
Mid-way through the tournament, the Indians have dominated the race and as all teams will try to close in on play-off berths in what is a competitive table, one can expect better performances from these bowlers. Perhaps, the batsmen may too rise to the occasion.
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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)