Varun Aaron (left) and Umesh Yadav were given an opportunity against England, and they cashed in on it, thereby making sure that they were picked for the upcoming home series against the West Indies © Getty Images
Varun Aaron (left) and Umesh Yadav were given an opportunity against England, and they cashed in on it, thereby making sure that they were picked for the upcoming home series against the West Indies © Getty Images

 

By Karthik Parimal

 

Since the last few years, more often than not India have relied heavily on its batting prowess to wriggle out of difficult situations. Bowling has never been India’s strength and it doesn’t come as a surprise when India fails to bowl out the opposition when playing on overseas tracks that aren’t spin-friendly. Over the last three years or so, barring Zaheer Khan, very few Indian pacers have impressed or looked threatening. They can be effective under seaming conditions, but on surfaces that provide little assistance to bowlers, India’s bowling falls flat. However, the emerging crop of young Indian bowlers raise hope, as they have what it takes to change the face of India’s fast bowling unit and make it intimidating.

 

Although most of the damage was caused by the spinners during the recently-concluded One-Day International (ODI) series against England, the new species of Indian fast bowlers looked promising. Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav were given an opportunity against England, and they cashed in on it, thereby making sure that they were picked for the upcoming home series against the West Indies. They still have a long way to go before they become permanent fixtures in the national side, but they can only improve from this point forward with proper exposure.

 

Umesh Yadav bowled quick and scalped four wickets in the three matches he played against England. Although his economy rate was on the higher side, his numbers do not reflect his potential. He was at the receiving end of the English batsmen’s wrath during the third ODI and was taken to the cleaners – he gave away 71 runs and remained wicketless in his allotted quota of 10 overs. He has to quickly realise that control is as important as pace. As MS Dhoni said, “It’s good to have guys bowling quick, but they also need to be able to keep the runs down and not give away a boundary an over.”

 

Aaron’s debut was inspiring. He finished with figures of 3 for 24 in his first ever appearance on the international stage. Despite the fact that he was picked for just a couple of matches and bowled a little under 10 overs in the entire series against England, he impressed one and all with his ability to generate pace and beat the batsmen. He took four wickets in the series – all bowled. He also played a key hand in England’s collapse during the final ODI at Kolkata by breaking an opening century partnership that threatened to take the match away fromIndia. He sent Alistair Cook back to the pavilion, thereby providing India the much-needed breakthrough. England eventually folded after it lost its remaining nine wickets for just 47 runs.

 

The fact that India have gone in with three seamers and three spinners for the first Test against West Indies provides an excellent opportunity for Yadav and Aaron to make their presence felt in the longer version of the game. If India pick two spinners, it will be interesting to see who among Aaron, Yadav and Ishant Sharma will be selected. However, it will augur well for India if all three seamers get to play, keeping the upcoming tour of Australia in mind, where fast-bowlers will have a bigger role to play than the spinners.

 

It is a good move by the selectors to rest Praveen Kumar for the first Test against West Indies considering the fact that he has been playing non-stop since the beginning of June. Resting him for the entire series against the West Indies can ensure that he is completely fit for the all-important tour of Australia, and this also throws up an opportunity to the newbies to perform and get noticed.

 

All eyes will be on Ishant, who was suffering from an ankle injury and makes his comeback in the first Test against West Indies. He has confessed that his ankle needs a surgery but he will get it done only after the tour of Australia.

 

The big question: If he has postponed his surgery, wouldn’t it be a risk to include him in the side? Not many have forgotten the repercussions of selecting a half-fit Zaheer Khan for the tour of England. Wouldn’t India be risking a similar situation again if Ishant is picked for the tour of Australia?

 

Nevertheless, India has a good pool of young, fast bowlers to choose from. The likes of Praveen Kumar, Aaron, Yadav and Ishant can be a force to reckon with. They should be groomed well and used tactfully. Aaron and Yadav have played in the Emerging Players Tournament held at Australia a few months ago and they can make use of that experience and use it accordingly if they are picked for the series against Australia. It is good to see the selectors keep faith in these youngsters and they should not considering discarding these bowlers even if they have a couple of average series.

 

(If cricket is a religion and has many devotees, Karthik Parimal would be a primary worshipper. This 23 year old graduate student, pursuing his Masters in Engineering, could be an appropriate example of how the layers of what inspires, motivates and keeps one happy run deeply in our daily lives. He, unlike others, is not too disappointed about not making it big by playing for the country, but believes that he plays the sport every day with his heart by watching and writing on it)