Asia Cup: India's Bowling Attack
The Citizen's Asia Cup finals coverage
What is the difference between having a good batting unit and a terrific bowling unit? Well, a prolific batting side can win you games, but in order to win tournaments, a side needs a resourceful and well-organised bowling attack, that can step up in crunch situations. Not every side in international cricket is blessed to have both the fronts covered, but India are definitely one such side. In recent times, India have developed into an frightening bowling unit and their bowlers have inspired confidence while putting in the hard yards. India have always been a batting power-house; they have world-class batsmen and batting has never been a drawback.
There is no evident weakness in this Indian bowling attack; they have a fine aura of skilful bowlers. The exclusion of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav from the Asia Cup squad was somewhat surprising for many, especially Shami. He was India’s leading wicket-taker in the 2015 World Cup and has proved his worth with the white ball. He is one smart operator and his presence is always lethal for the opponent. Apart from the recurring injuries, there is no other reason why a bowler of his calibre should not be in the national side. Shami, like any other fast bowler, has been prone to injuries, which has also been the reason behind him not being a mainstay in the line-up.
However, India’s bowling attack in the Asia Cup has been very effective and looks good for the future. Despite the absence of Hardik Pandya and Shami, the bowling has done extremely well. The new ball bowlers – Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah has been unstoppable while the spinners have rendered bowling a joy to behold. It has been a collective performance and the side has not relied on a single bowler to bail them out. There is no weak-link in this bowling attack and have enough bench strength for back up.
Apart from their first game, where India tinkered with the bowling a little, their bowlers have wreaked havoc. In their second game against Pakistan, Indian bowlers folded the Pakistani side for a modest 164, which they chased without any hassle. In the Super 4s, India’s first assignment was against Bangladesh. Indian bowlers were once again leading from the front and restricted the Bangladeshi side to 173. The game was won inside 37 overs with seven wickets to spare. On Sunday, India locked horns with arch-rivals Pakistan and a victory here would mean a place in the finals for both the sides. The pitch at Dubai was no less than a batting paradise; it was dry and had nothing for the bowlers. Pakistan decided to put pressure on Indian batsmen by getting big runs on the board and opted to bat first.
After seven odd overs from the seamers, Rohit Sharma introduced some spin, which turned out to be a masterstroke. Yuzvendra Chahal trapped Imam-ul-Haq leg before in his very first over and drew the first blood. Kuldeep Yadav got the better of Fakhar Zaman, the moment he started looking to shift gears. Babar Azam was run out on 9 after which, a partnership started building between Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed.
Once the partnership was broken, Indian bowlers had no difficulty in putting the brakes. Jasprit Bumrah bowled a mesmerising spell in the death overs and was equally supported by other bowlers. Pakistan set a target of 238, which turned out to be a cakewalk for Indian batsmen. None of the Pakistani bowlers managed to pick a wicket; Indian batsmen feasted on the amazing batting conditions, which also highlights the kind of impact Indian bowlers had. Indian bowlers, so far, made the job easy for their batsmen by restricting their opponents to low totals.
India have a well-oiled pace attack, both – Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar are equally effective with the new as well as the old ball. Indian wrist-spinners have kept things extremely tight in the middle and chipped wickets in heaps. Ravindra Jadeja has latched onto his new lifeline while Kedar Jadhav has been more than handy with the ball. Once India have all their bowling resources available for selection (Pandya, Shami or even Umesh), it would be very difficult for the opponents to dominate this bowling attack.
Against Afghanistan, India played a second string attack, but their spinners did extremely well to break the spine. Mohammad Shahzad scored a scintillating century, but one should also remember, he was dropped on 49. On a whole, their bowlers did deliver against a spirited side. There are only positives to take for Indian bowlers from these encounters despite the match ending in a tie.
India have won 9 out of their last 10 ODI series, the only one they lost was against England. They did put up a fight there, but England were just too good. It is safe enough to say, India have one of the best bowling attacks in the world. There is variety in pace department as well as in the spin. All bowlers are unique in their own way and the attack on a whole have the ability to do well across conditions.
There is not much time left for the 2019 World Cup, and so far, India have their bowling attack sorted. The only hurdle for India remains their middle-order, especially No. 4. India will be hoping that their bowlers carry the purple patch into the World Cup. If they do so, India will be the team to beat in the grandest stage of ODI cricket. India’s big challenge lies in the final against Bangladesh on Friday, this where the ability to handle pressure and come out fighting will be tested brutally. Will Indian bowlers replicate their magical performance in the ultimate game? Well, only time will unveil the mystery.