The Indian pacers’ ability to regularly take 20 wickets in Test cricket has been a welcome addition to the team’s bowling arsenal. It was on display during the three-Test series in South Africa in January earlier this year and again in the seamer-friendly conditions in England in August-September.
The great West Indian fast bowler, Michael Holding, believes bowling on livelier wickets at home has held the Indian seamers in good stead. “I think the preponderance of fast bowlers in India is due to the fact that pitches that encourage fast bowlers are now quite prevalent in the country,” Holding told Sportstar.
Between November 2014—October 2018, India played 45 Tests, both home and away, with the bowlers taking 20 wickets in 30 of those. However, between November 2014 and October 2018, the bowlers have fared better with 20 wickets being taken in 30 of the 45 Tests played, at home and overseas.
The seamers, in particular, accounted for 342 of the total wickets to fall during this period, with 226 coming overseas.
The pace battery comprises Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, and Jasprit Bumrah with all-rounder Hardik Pandya rolling his arm depending on the conditions and the team combination.
While Bumrah brings to the table a lethal yorker, Kumar, Shami and Yadav can swing the ball at good speeds. Ishant uses the short ball well while Pandya’s dibbly-dobbly pace comes handy in swing-friendly conditions.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar celebrating the dismissal of Keshav Maharaj during first Test match against South Africa. (File photo) – AFP
Holding attributed this variety and depth in India’s bowling to better strength and training programmes. “The entire culture of nutrition and training seems to have changed over the years. They are all a lot stronger and fitter which enables them to maintain their pace over a longer period of time,” he said.
In England, the Indian quicks — Ishant (24.27), Bumrah (25.92) and Pandya (24.7) — had averages on par with England pacers Stuart Broad (29.68). Ben Stokes (29.14), Chris Woakes (20.87)and Sam Curran (23.54). Of the 82 English wickets to fall during the five-Test series, 61 went to the seamers — including three five-wicket hauls — at an average of 28.60. Mohammed Shami (38.87), however, was on the expensive side, averaging close to 40 but he was also slightly unfortunate throughout the series.
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England’s lead pacer James Anderson (18.12) was, however, a league above the rest.
“It was interesting to see that all the Indian pacers were quicker than all the England quicks who played the series,” the Jamaican said before adding, “They are all different so they compliment each other whichever four are selected.”
With India’s high profile tour of Down Under not far off, Holding believes ‘who will do better in Australia will depend on how they adapt to the conditions (bounce and pace).’
“There are no easily identifiable qualities that should qualify or disqualify one from the other on the pitches,” he signed off.