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Is India’s bowling attack for the 2011 world Cup in place?

Saturday, October 23, 2021
Shirin Sadikot

Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara – these are the young men who have of late given us a feeling of assurance that the future of Indian batting is as dazzling as its past and the present. Be it Tests or ODIs, the young guns have put their hands up and shown their mettle with élan.

But what about the bowling front? True, India has never been a country of bowlers. We’ve had our Chandras, Bedis, Kapils and Kumbles and we still have a Zaheer and a Harbhajan. But a team that dreams of winning the World cup needs some fine men to be a strong support to the main guys.

As has always been the case with Indian cricket, there is no dearth of talent. Ishant Sharma is tall and fast – an attribute so rare with Indian bowlers. Sreesanth and RP Singh can run through a line-up in swinging conditions, Praveen Kumar is lethal bowling under the lights and Ashish Nehra brings in enormous experience in the death overs. The likes of Abhimanyu Mithun, Vinay Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat and Umesh Yadav are soon making their presence felt in the domestic circuit.

The spin cupboard too, is anything but bare. Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha have demonstrated their capabilities in Tests and R Ashwin is soon showing his worth in the limited overs formats. Piyush Chawla too stays in the fray.

With such abundance of talent, what are we whingeing about? The answer to that question is another cliché that has been an integral part of Indian cricket. Inconsistency. Inconsistency in performance, fitness and selection. Be it Ishant’s pace, Sreesanth’s rhythm or Nehra’s death bowling, India has enjoyed it all sporadically. Also, sometimes one gets a feeling the Indian pacers spend more time in the NCA rehabilitation centre than in the nets or the cricket field.

Mishra and Ojha are a part of what seems like a never-ending game of musical chairs in India’s Test team and Ashwin’s inclusion in the playing eleven is at the mercy of India’s part-timer spinners, who Dhoni has a fetish for.

When India conceded 85 runs to Australia in the last five overs in the VIzag ODI, it wasn’t an aberration. Death bowling has been India’s Achilles Heels since the last two years.

"The last ten overs have always been a big concern for us. It's not a worry we have had (only) over the last 2 or 3 months. We have been bothered by it for the last – one-two years. We had done well in between but have not been really consistent. It's still an area where we can definitely improve.

“We are putting in a lot of effort but haven't achieved the desired result. We have not been consistent with it," The issue has even the captain MS Dhoni is at his wits end.

With the World Cup four years away, we can easily pick the eight best batsmen who are almost a surety in the squad given they’re fit. But can we say the same about the bowlers? If yes, who will be your pick?

Shirin Sadikot is a sub-editor with Cricket Nirvana