Fast bowlers are a rare breed in India. India haven’t had many world class fast men and have only 3 bowlers in their entire cricketing history who have gone past 200 test wickets. Zaheer Khan is the last fast bowler who has gotten anywhere close to being world class. In the 90’s India struggled to find a decent third seamer to consolidate the good first spells of Srinath and Prasad but at the end of the decade there were some promising additions. Zaheer was the first to emerge in 2000, followed by a plethora of young fast men who promised a lot but faltered to deceive in the long run.
The problem with the Indian pace men over the years has been their fitness. Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Sreesanth etc. All began their career with lots of promise bowling quick and swinging the ball. But none of them were able to convert their earlier promise into performance over a sustained period of time. The trend is extremely disturbing. The emphasis on fitness is something which seems to be lacking in these fast men. Within just a year in international cricket, these bowlers have lost their fitness, pace and ability to swing the ball.
The number seems to be increasing over the years. In 2007 India possessed one of the best pace attack for a long time. Zaheer, Sreesanth and RP Singh bowling in the excess of 135 KMPH and swinging the ball both ways was a great sight for an Indian fan. The joy just lasted for a year before RP Singh lost his way and pace. Sreesanth has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. Ishant Sharma who bowled India’s fastest delivery in Australia and troubled the best batsmen in business with his length and bounce has lost the attributes which made him an instant success in his first year of international cricket.
It is hard to understand how a cricketing board can turn deaf to the problems causing this decline of the fast bowlers. Fitness is an important aspect for a bowler in International cricket. It is also important for the bowlers to keep evolving and learn new tricks as they advance their careers. The Indian pace men have faltered on both counts. The reason can be many and one of the most important reasons in the recent times has been the excessive cricket the bowlers have been subjected to. The IPL/CLT20 followed by countless international games can only break a bowler.
Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav spend more time recouping from an injury than to play for their country. Playing excessive T20 games also gives no option for the bowlers to work on their bowling. The Indian board has to realize that Zaheer’s stint in county cricket in England was the reason for his evolution as one of the best bowler in the world for about 4 years. The BCCI has blocked that avenue too. The county cricket can be a great learning ground for these bowlers and will be much more beneficial than playing in meaningless T20 games in India.
Now we again have talented new crop of bowlers like B Kumar and Shami Ahmed and it will be interesting to see how the board handle these bowlers. The BCCI have the finances and resources to keep the promising Indian bowlers away from the T20 leagues and keep them fresh for International cricket. It will be great to have Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, B Kumar, Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar and Shami Ahmed fit and available for an international series. Constant cricket can only be detrimental to Indian cricket future. If India needs to become a force to reckon with at the international level we need a pool of good pace bowlers and this is the time to preserve the resources we have.
The Indian team’s performance in the World T20 was not a bad one but the think tank must now think ahead. The biggest problem for India in the championship was their bowling. The next T20 world cup is in 2014 and this is time for India to build for that tournament. The fact that India improved quite a lot from the last two editions should not pull down the wool over the frailties of the bowling attack.
The Indian team was highly reliant on Ashwin and Yuvraj with the ball and the new ball pair of Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan was not consistent enough. The rest of spin attack wasn’t given that many opportunities but again the sight of Chawla and Harbhajan with the ball did not instill the necessary confidence among the Indian fans. The Indian batting too struggled with the consistency. The lack of runs from the openers was a huge disappointment and it is time for India to look past Sehwag in the T20 format.
India needs to probably take the queue out of the 2007 T20 world cup. The team was in shambles after the shock exit from the World Cup and the decision to go to South Africa with a young team worked wonders. I am not sure if Dhoni is the right captain for this format either. He is good but probably the time has come to bite the bullet and make Kohli the captain of the T20 team. India also needs to identify a good wicket keeper for this format. The name of Robin Uthappa comes to mind immediately. He did keep wickets for Royal Bangalore Challengers in the IPL and he is pretty good with the bat too. Ambati Rayudu is another player who will be excellent in this format and he kept wickets too for Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
Ajinkya Rahane needs to get a look in as an opener. The bowling too needs a rethink. It is hard to imagine Zaheer and Balaji playing in the 2014 T20 world cup, so I guess India need to unearth some quality pacers suited for this format. Varun Aaron comes to mind and he seems well suited for the shorter format. The spin combination too needs to be rethought too. Piyush Chawla isn’t consistent enough in this format to be a regular, so probably someone like Rahul Sharma can get a look in. He has the bowling style of Anil Kumble and can be more suited to this form of the game than Piyush. Again like Zaheer it is hard to imagine Harbhajan playing for India in the T20 World cup in 2014.
India needs to look to have a young set of players in the T20 format and needs to implement the same starting immediately. Even though people will argue that 4 wins out of 5 isn’t a bad result, the team combination just did not look right. The selection by the team management wasn’t smart either in the individual games but those are just in the hindsight now. India hasn’t been great in this format for a long time now and the selection committee needs to completely revamp this side with some young blood. The selection committee has changed and possibly will have some tough decision to take in the coming months. Let’s hope that the committee comes in with some fresh ideas and gets the right kind of people for this format.
Sehwag, Dhoni, Harbhajan and Zaheer have been brilliant for India over the years but the time has come for them to bid adieu to this format. They are still the key players for India in the other two formats but realistically India needs to look past these legends keeping the 2014 world cup in mind.
Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron will have their tasks cut off when the grueling Indian season begins in a month’s time
Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron were like a breath of fresh air when they took the new ball against the touring West Indies side at home. Both bowled with extreme pace troubling the West Indies batters on pretty flat wickets in India. Both bowlers capable of bowling in the excess of 150 will now have to concentrate on cementing their place in the Indian squad. The Indian fast bowling cupboard has not been fuller than the last decade or so. We had fast bowlers appearing left right and center only to disappear after a year.
We have had bowlers with enormous talent making their debuts, only to lose their way within a year. The reason to the same has never been analyzed. Talented bowlers like Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, and RP Singh etc… All had a great beginning to their career only to lose their way and finally disappear from the radar. When Umesh Yadav came on to the scene, I was little skeptic. India plays a lot of cricket throughout the year including the IPL and champions League. For a bowler to remain fit through this grueling schedule requires meticulous planning from the team management as well the bowler himself. It is not an easy task.
But after almost a year, Umesh has done quite well to withstand the pressure and has still maintained his speed. This shows that the boy has great work ethic and tremendous fitness. Aaron though wasn’t that lucky, he missed the Australia tour due to injury but made a good comeback bowling at 150 k’s even after his return in the IPL. These two have for sure have for now broken the trend of Indian bowlers losing their pace.
The next hurdle to cross will be to pass the grade from promising to good. This will be something which will separate them from the rest of the pack. Umesh Yadav had a great start to his test career and was very impressive in Australia. Aaron too had a decent debut test against the West Indies. Fast bowlers need to be looked after. There are only a hand full currently in international cricket who can bowl 90+ mph consistently. The Indian think tank needs to understand that. Aaron and Umesh are the future of Indian bowling and I hope the rigorous schedule of the Indian team does not consume them too.
It will be interesting to see how these to shape up in the coming year or two. It will be interesting to see if the Indian think tank has the courage to play both these players together in the test team. India has finally found genuine pace bowlers and my hope is that we don’t lose them to mismanagement and greed once again.
When India tour Australia later this year pace will come to the forefront. In India though most of the times the pacers are just supporting acts to the spinners but when the team tours abroad the roles are reversed. This is the reason India is so heavily reliant on Zaheer Khan, who without a doubt has been India’s premier performer over the past few years.
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The team selection for the upcoming West Indies series shows the immense faith the selectors have on the youngsters. The team has the right balance of youth and experience and it will be interesting to see how they fare in the longer format. The series also proves an ideal ground to prepare for the future. West Indies aren’t a force anymore and this young team playing in India will gain immense experience.
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With the IPL nearing the play offs, the Indian selectors will convene in Chennai tomorrow to select the Indian team to tour West Indies next month. It is going to be an interesting selection as it seems like almost an A team would visit the Caribbean at least for the ODI-T20 leg of the tour. The IPL has thrown up some interesting names for the selection and it will all depend on how many seniors want to actually play in the ODI’s. The West Indies team is currently struggling but as seen in the series against Pakistan they cannot be written off completely. The Indian team will also not be as lucky as Pakistan since once the IPL is done, Gayle, Bravo, Taylor and Pollard will be back to bolster the WI line up. So I am guessing that the Indian team will have a good mix of youth and experience.
So let’s look at the possible candidates for the WI tour. After great performances for Mumbai Indians in IPL, it seems like finally Ambati Rayudu might fulfill the promise which was seen in him about 10 years back. He is also a wicket-keeper, so his success will mean that we will have a capable understudy to Dhoni on tours. The other player who might get a look in is Subramaniam Badrinath, who has looked in incredible touch for CSK in this IPL and has also had an impressive domestic season prior to that. Rohit Sharma might also get a call back as he has been in impressive form in the IPL. Apart from these three there are other contenders in batting such as Rahane, Pujara (Provided he is fit) and Murali Vijay.
If Dhoni decides to skip the ODI’s, Ghambir might captain the team to WI for the ODI leg. With very good chance of senior players giving the ODI a skip, this tour will provide excellent chance for young Indian batsmen to prove themselves at international level. The bowling line up though will provide much interesting selection. With Ashish Nehra missing out due to Injury, we will see Praveen Kumar making a comeback to the national side. Ishant Sharma who bowled brilliantly for his IPL side Deccan Chargers will also be in the reckoning. It was heartening to see Ishant getting his pace and accuracy back. Munaf Patel who has been consistent and accurate for the past few months will for sure make the side.
Varun Aaron, the new pace sensation might be the wild card but I don’t think the selectors will pick him ahead of Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav. Zaheer I am sure will be rested for the ODI and T20. The spinning combination will be an interesting one. With lots of them doing extremely well in the IPL, it will be a tough pick for the selectors. Ravichandran Ashwin will for sure make the squad and if the selectors decide to rest Bajji for the ODI’s we might see Pragyan Ojha making the cut too. Rahul Sharma who has had a dream IPL with his consistent leg-breaks will also be in the radar for the selectors. Amit Mishra and Iqbal Abdulla who have been very economical in the IPL will also be in the discussion. I am thinking that Amit Mishra might anyways make it to the test team but they might want to try Rahul Sharma in the ODI’s to see how he does at the international level. Piyush Chawla though would be missing out as he had a bad World Cup followed by an equally awful IPL.
The seniors are for sure are expected to be back for the test series and there might not be many surprises in the test squad. With Sehwag missing Vijay might join Ghambir at the top of the order followed by Dravid, Sachin and Laxman. The number 6 spot again will be in the discussion and I hope that they give another chance to the young Pujara. Raina might probably make the squad too unless the selectors want to include another youngster in his spot. The bowling for sure will feature Zaheer, Sreesanth and probably Ishant as the three speedsters and Bajji might be joined by Mishra in the spin department. All in all this is going to be an interesting selection and I hope that some youngsters get a look in at least in the shorter format.
The WI tour will be a potential banana skin tour for the Indians as they are expected to win it comfortably. With the return of the stars WI is not going to be pushovers in either format and the Indians need to play extremely well to win the series convincingly. The number 1 test team needs to win all the three games to avoid losing any points and the ODI team needs to win the series pretty convincingly to not drop down the ODI rankings. So this will surely be in the mind of the selectors when picking the players for the tour. Duncan Fletcher is expected to join the selection meeting tomorrow in Chennai and I don’t think he will have too much of an input as this is expected to be just an introduction exercise for the new Indian coach.