Big test for ‘Best Indian Pace Attack’

Chennai: A lot has already been said about how this series Down Under for India would be the best chance to seal the series. It comes with the fact that Australia is without their talismanic run scorers, David Warner and Steve Smith; however, one may fail to notice that the ‘best chance to win’ talk also comes considering the good pace attack that India boasts of.

India’s pace attack at the moment is touted to be the best the country ever had. With Ishant Sharma leading the attack with experience, the pace battery consists of Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. What is heartening to see is the fact that all the bowlers possess different qualities that gives the attack variety.

Ishant Sharma’s height is a big factor as it helps him get that natural bounce in Australian conditions; Bhuvneshwar can swing the ball both ways; Umesh Yadav’s pace, Shami’s reverse swing and Bumrah’s searing yorkers coupled with the ability to bowl, make the attack fully loaded and suitable for any pitch condition.

Tall and experienced

Ishant Sharma will be touring Australia for the fourth time in his career, ever since his debut in 2007-08 where he tormented the Australian batting line-up that consisted of Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist.

That series made the world take notice of the tall teenage bowler. Nearly a decade down the line, Ishant continues to be a vital cog in the team, leading the pace attack ever since Zaheer Khan’s retirement.

Despite not being in the limelight which can be attributed to the fact that he has been confined to playing only red-ball cricket, Ishant tops the list of bowlers with the worst average in Australia.

However, his recent form, especially in England where he topped the wicket-takers list for India, picking up 18 wickets in five Tests, suggest that he is a more rejuvenated bowler. He missed the Windies Test series due to an injury and is on his way back. Ishant’s experience and longevity make him vital in Australia.

A chance for redemption

Among the pacers for this series, Umesh Yadav is the fastest and over the last one year, he has shaped himself to be the better version of himself. Since the Sri Lankan tour in 2017 ended in September, Yadav has got very limited opportunities in the playing XI for India across formats.

During the England tour, he played only in one Test and during the South Africa tour, he spent the entire time on the bench. He has, however, shown his ability in the home Test tour of West Indies where he picked up 10 wickets in a match, his best in his career so far. Now, the Australian tour opens up a good opportunity to showcase himself given his pace.

No place for swing?

Bhuvneshwar Kumar may be the leader of the pace attack in white ball cricket but in red-ball cricket outside the sub-continent, he is not the first-choice bowler. Bhuvi is the kind of a bowler who relies heavily on swing, which  in England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, with livelier pitches for fast bowlers might not be that effective. Also, given the fact that with the Kookaburra being used Down Under, it does not offer much swing compared with the Dukes. Since Bhuvneshwar is also recuperating from a back spasm that he suffered recently and might have to sit out for the entire series as it was suggested during India’s warm-up where he was not given a chance to bowl.

X-factor

Ever since his debut for India, Jasprit Bumrah has garnered attention and with his performances of late, he has also emerged as the No.1 bowler for India who is suitable to play in all formats. Bumrah is on his first Test tour Down Under and it remains to be seen how he lives up to the expectation in Australia adjusting to the conditions.

Shami is another bowler to have received a lot of attention. His reverse swing comes in handy on Australian pitches. Shami was the best bowler for India in South Africa with an impressive average of 17.06 runs but he could manage 16 wickets in England at an average above 35. Shami, however, is more of a stump-to-stump bowler who has that innate ability to pick wickets at the right time and break a partnership.

Having played in Australia before, he along with Bumrah and Ishant is certain to feature in the Adelaide Test starting 6 December, where the hosts have prepared a green top that could even make India go in with four pacers.

Aaditya Anand M