Bharat Arun has been a quiet achiever as India’s bowling coach, putting together an aggressive wicket-minded attack that can sting.
Despite India’s shock exit in the ICC World Cup semifinal, chiefly caused by a batting collapse in the first 10 overs, Arun, in a conversation with Sportstar, felt there were many positives for Virat Kohli’s men from the competition.
On India topping the 10-team group stage: We performed with consistency and aggression and were the team of the World Cup till the semifinal, topping in a gruelling format revived after 1992.
On the semifinal defeat against New Zealand: The whole team was heart-broken. Just 45 minutes of bad cricket saw us out. Also India batting on the second day hurt us. The ball always does things in the mornings in England and it moved. On Day One, the pitch actually eased out and the momentum was with us.
On the format for the knock-out stages: There should be some incentive for the teams that finish first and second in this long, demanding league phase. We should have play-offs like in the IPL.
On the criticism meted out to M. S. Dhoni: It was very unfair. He has contributed so much to the Indian team, is a legend. In fact, on many occasions Virat Kohli bounces ideas off Dhoni, respects him. In the semifinal, we were all confident till Dhoni was there. We could see he was lining himself up for the big hits in the final over. Sadly, the run-out happened.
On the harmony within the team-management and the support staff: It’s not that we agree on everything. We have our arguments and discussions on various aspects like the composition of the team and the strategy. Everyone voices his opinion. But at the end of the day, the other person’s view is respected and a collective decision is taken.
On the relationship between skipper Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma: It has to be seen to be believed. Rohit often runs up to Kohli to discuss things. They get along very well, share great admiration for each other’s ability. Kohli led the side well, is maturing as a captain and it’s nice that he has Rohit for support. The spirit in the camp was wonderful throughout.
Bharat Arun: “We were the team of the World Cup till the semifinal.” Photo: AP
On the Indian bowling in the World Cup: Many felt we were the bowling side of the tournament. Jasprit Bumrah was brilliant with his pace and variations. His hard-to-pick short pitched deliveries skid on to the batsmen. Bhuvneshwar showed character, moved the ball. Hardik Pandya was a revelation with his changes of pace and effective short-pitched deliveries. He was keen to pull his weight as a bowler and often completed his 10 overs. And the extremely talented, multi-dimensional Ravindra Jadeja showed finger spinners had a role to play, too. It was a difficult decision to leave out Mohammed Shami in the semifinal but had we made it to the final at Lord’s he would have been in the eleven as the fourth paceman.
On wrist spinners not having a great World Cup: The conditions did not really suit them, it was cold. The batsmen also played them well, a lot off the back-foot.
On the effective deliveries in the tournament: The deliveries on a good length that moved. The slower off-cutter bouncers, the quick bouncer and the cross seam deliveries.
On how the final concluded: I agree with Sachin Tendulkar that one more Super Over could have been played. Why look only at boundaries when there are so many methods to make runs? Looking at the number of wickets lost is the best way to decide.
On the evolution of Ravindra Jadeja: Even before his stunning performance against New Zealand, Jadeja made his presence felt. Even if he was not in the eleven, he still managed to make a memorable contribution. His catch to dismiss Jason Roy in the game against England was perhaps the catch of the tournament. He just has so much all-round ability and has matured. He will have an important role to play for India in the days ahead. Jadeja is a fluid, vibrant player.
On the takeaways from the World Cup: It was a largely happy campaign. The boys enjoyed the competition. The preparation had to be intense. From a bowling perspective we practised a lot on getting the yorker right. We also did a lot of work on the lengths we bowled since the conditions can change quickly in England. Within the camp there was a lot of bonhomie and this team was really together as a bunch. It was also a long campaign and we had to maintain our intensity levels. The semifinal was a crushing disappointment but we had our moments. Rohit Sharma shone with his five hundreds and Jasprit Bumrah was brilliant with the ball. We know we played well for a majority of our time on the field.
On the bowlers apart from the Indians who impressed him: Jofra Archer was outstanding. He has real pace, has a potent yorker and possesses a very good short-pitched ball. Trent Boult was very good too, so was Lockie Ferguson who is quick and varies his pace. Liam Plunkett used his experience in England to bowl effective cross seam in the middle overs.