Ishant Sharma is expected to be India's spearhead in bowling department © Getty Images
Ishant Sharma is expected to be India’s spearhead in bowling department © Getty Images

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been ruled out of the first Test between India and Australia in Adelaide. Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron seem to be certain to take the two pacers’ slots, with a third left vacant. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami will compete for that lone berth ahead of the first Test. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about the ideal pace combination for India.

What would be India’s pace attack for the first Test against Australia in Adelaide? Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the swing bowler, has been ruled out due to injury which leaves India to choose from four bowlers.  In all likelihood, India would pick three seamers and one spinner, which would mean that one man out of the quartet would be benched. Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron are certainties given their performances in England. The real tussle is between Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami.

It isn’t easy to choose between Shami and Yadav. Both have been in good form in recent times and are genuine wicket-takers. Shami may have had a tough time in England but has bounced back with some good performances in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Umesh also seems to be in a good rhythm as he had a decent run at home in the ODIs. Collectively, the bowling attack has had a good workout in the warm-up game. Umesh had only one game, where he picked a solitary wicket.

The Indian team management has to see what they bring to the table. This time, India won’t be found wanting for lack of pace. Ishant and Shami are brisk, who can clock around the 140s. Umesh and Aaron are the out-and-out fast bowlers in the side. With Ishant and Aaron in, they have a good pair with varying strengths. Ishant can use height and subtle movements off the seam to take wickets. On the other hand, Aaron can bowl quick and will try to get a bit of movement.

Umesh is in a similar mould to Aaron. Both bowl quick and can shock batsmen with their pace, but have the tendency to spray it around. They have an economy rate over four in Test cricket, which is too high for the format. While playing both of them is tempting to unleash their pace on the opposition, there is an inherent risk of conceding too many runs.

Shami’s case strengthens as a result. He is comparatively frugal when compared to the two pacemen and may be able to bring in variety into the bowling. When compared to Ishant and Aaron, he has a different skill set. While he bowls at a brisk pace, he has more control and can get movement. Also, his abilities with the old ball cannot be ignored. His reverse swing could be quite a handful with India perhaps waiting for the new ball.

Thus, the ideal combination for India should be Ishant, Aaron and Shami. It seems the most balanced combination that could deliver the goods early in the series.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)