Back in the mix, Aaron to stick to mantra of pace

Back in the mix, Aaron to stick to mantra of pace

Back in the mix, Aaron to stick to mantra of pace

In a country where genuine fast bowlers are a rare commodity, Varun Aaron offered a beacon of hope when he came on to the scene in the later half of this decade.

However, injuries, mainly a stress fracture on his back, hindered his progress. He has so far played just one Test and eight one-dayers despite making his international debut in 2011. But his outing against England in the on-going fourth Test at Old Trafford, where he replaced an off-colour Mohammad Shami, offers a lot of promise.

Aaron had tweaked his action last year to reduce the stress on his back while working with former India pacer Bharat Arun at the National Cricket Academy. “It’s just a minor change in the action, and I hope it won’t get into the way of my pace, which is my strength,” Aaron had said a few months back.

After that prolonged injury lay-off, the Jharkhand man got his chance to represent India in the one-dayers against New Zealand and Bangladesh. The four one-dayers were massively disappointing, leaking runs in abundance.

In Auckland (52 runs in 7 overs), Hamilton (51 runs in 6.1 overs), Wellington (60 runs in 10 overs) and Fatullah (74 runs in 7.5 overs), Aaron neither could contain the batsmen nor take too many wickets. But his reasonable outing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League earned him a berth in the England-bound India squad.

He had to wait till the fourth Test at Manchester to play the second Test of his career. There were fears of his ability to sustain his pace for a longer duration, and his tendency to spray the ball around in one-dayers too added to the worry.

But under overcast skies, Aaron excelled. He nudged the 90 mph mark often, troubled the English batsmen with good movement and rattled Moeen Ali with a barrage of short-pitched balls. Then he dismissed Ali with a quick inswinger, and a delighted Kapil Dev said, “The best delivery by an Indian bowler on this tour so far.”

Aaron explained it. “Moeen had a problem with short ball in this series, and in that scenario, a short-pitched ball followed by a full ball is a good strategy.”

More significantly, there was no hint of him dropping the pace, and Aaron said he would look to maintain it. “I had five stress fractures, still I don’t believe in holding myself back. After the surgery I was walking on thin ice in terms of bowling fast. I am quite happy that I managed it today.”