Indian bowlers are inconsistent but these five instances show they contributed in tough times
Indian bowlers are inconsistent but these five instances show they stood up and contributed in tough times Getty Images & AFP

There was a time when India seldom produced quality fast bowlers. They have remained a batsman’s team since time immemorial. As an outcome, while Indians worship batsmen, bowlers seldom receive their share of adulation. This goes around in a circle, for while nobody wants to be a bowler because nobody respects bowlers, it is the other way round as well. For a team to win, you need batters as well as bowlers. For MS Dhoni and the current Indian team, the problem has been the band of inexperienced bowlers at his disposal. Very often have bowlers stood up for Dhoni and eased his workload. Bowlers have been good for Team India, but have often been inconsistent, or worse, unfit. Nonetheless, India have still managed to keep its record intact in ICC events since their famous ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 victory. Here is a look at 5 such instances when bowlers rescued India from the bottom and got the team over the line (from 2011-2016): ALSO READ: Kumble’s selection was unanimous: Shirke

Zaheer Khan’s 10-0-64-3 against England, World Cup 2011: In the second match, hosts India were up against England at Chinnaswamy. On a flat track, bowlers were falling apart with their rhythm as Sachin Tendulkar blasted a century; Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir got fifties, while Dhoni and Virender Sehwag played quick cameos. The team scored a huge 338, but England were up to the task. They lost Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott but that did it hamper their run rate. Ian Bell (aided by a dubious DRS call) and skipper Andrew Strauss’ timely partnership of over 170 runs made them favourites to win the game going into the last 8 overs. The equation read 59 runs from 48 balls with 8 wickets in hand.

Dhoni recalled his most experienced bowler Zaheer Khan to bowl his third spell; that proved a masterstroke. Zaheer quickly removed Strauss with a superb yorker; the next ball, a deceptive slower delivery, got the better of Bell. England started tottering after this, and the wicket of Paul Collingwood confirmed the game for the Indians. However, Piyush Chawla’s expensive penultimate over tied the game, which was indeed the best outcome of this nail-biting encounter. Dhoni and co. were saved by the efforts of their premier bowler, Khan. ALSO READ:When MS Dhoni became 1st captain to win all ICC tournaments

Ishant Sharma’s 4-0-36-2 against England, ICC Champions Trophy 2013: India were hot favourites to lift ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 as they comfortably cruised to the final without losing a single game. The match was reduced to 20 overs a side following constant showers. India scored 129 for 7 in 20 overs. England kept on losing wickets, but Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan steadied their ship and looked set to take their team to the finishing line. Dhoni recalled Ishant, who looked erratic till then.

Ishant started with 2 wides, and conceded a huge six. However, some guidance from his skipper produced the best out of him in that match. He bowled a slower bouncer to take the wicket of Morgan; he repeated the same delivery, with a set field, to take Bopara’s wicket too.

Suddenly, Indians were breathing fire with bowling and fielding, and they eventually won by 5 runs. Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Shikhar Dhawan were the top performers for India in the tournament but some credit went to Ishant for his crucial breakthroughs in the final. ALSO READ:Ganguly, Shastri must have kept things confidential

Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 10-0-68-3 against South Africa in 2015: With India trailing South Africa 1-2 in the 5-match ODI series, the hosts had all to play for in the fourth ODI in Chennai. India set the visitors a stiff target of 300, and were falling apart but AB de Villiers was still at the crease holding one end and playing comfortably. India had to get him out soon or else the series could have been over by then itself.

Bhuvneshwar came into bowl in the last 5 overs with the South African ODI skipper still at the crease and well past his century. Kumar bowled an uncomfortable bouncer and got the nick of de Villiers as the over after a relatively quiet over. His dismissal led to an opening of sorts for the Indians as they made further inroads to the weak lower-order for the visitors and sealed the game by 35 runs. The series was eventually lost, but it was Bhuvneshwar’s precious spell in the fourth ODI that kept the series alive till the last game.

Jasprit Bumrah’s 4-0-32-0 against Bangladesh in ICC World T20I 2016: India were playing Bangladesh at Chinnaswamy, and had given a modest target of 147. Bangladesh were determined to win to stay alive in the competition; India, on the other hand, had to win to inch closer to the knockout stages.

The visitors kept on losing wickets but still required around 8 an over in the last 5 overs. Bumrah came to bowl his last spell after a forgettable first few overs and dropping a sitter of Tamim Iqbal. He stuck to his basics and did what he does best: he bowled consecutive yorkers which on target and conceded 6 an over at a crunch time. India eventually pulled off a heist as they came from behind to win the game by 1 run but it was Bumrah’s efforts along with those of Man of the Match Ashwin’s that India survived another day in the tournament.

Mohammad Shami’s 8.1-0-57-3 against Australia in 2013: India and Australia played a cracking bilateral ODI series in 2013. The final ODI saw Rohit Sharma score his first 200 and India post a mammoth 383 for 6 in 50 overs. Australia gave India a fitting reply with the bat as their batsmen came and went but kept the run rate ticking.

Shami removed Aaron Finch and Adam Voges but James Faulkner was going bonkers on the other end. Along with Clint McKay, he kept Australia on the verge of a historic win but when the ball was finally given to Shami with the hope of picking up the last wicket before it gets too late. Shami did not disappoint: he got Faulkner with the first ball of the over and sealed the deal for the hosts. His timely breakthroughs took India past the line and won the series 3-2.

Surely there were many such performances but these bowlers bowled in the toughest or the most crucial situations and hence made it to the list. All these bowlers in the list were expensive but impactful as they chipped in with wickets at the most crucial junctures. Hopefully fans of Indian cricket team would get to see the likes of Barinder Sran, Jasprit Bumrah, Dhawal Kulkarni and co. take more responsibilities and deliver consistently in future.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)