Indian pacers offer a bright sign

Indian pacers offer a bright sign

It’s not often that you see the Indian fast bowlers harry batsmen with their pace and particularly so on Indian pitches, whether in Tests or in shorter versions.

In the longer format, they play second fiddle to spinners on turning tracks and in limited-overs contests, the lifeless surfaces and shorter boundaries take the sting out of them.

Totals in excess of 350 have been stacked up and chased down routinely in the recent past, making the bowlers’ job, and more so that of pacemen, a hazardous one.

On Sunday under lights in Cuttack, where dew was expected to affect their effectiveness in the first one-dayer, Indian pacers set the tone for the defence of their 363/5 in fine fashion.

All three pacemen – Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Ishant Sharma – bowled with great verve and purpose. They worked up good speeds, got the ball to bounce at an awkward height from where shot-making was difficult. Despite having better conditions to bat, the Lankan batsmen came unstuck and lost the match in the first 10 overs itself in a high chase, struggling to come to terms with the fired-up Indian new-ball bowlers.
Aaron, who got injured after bowling just 4.1 overs, clocked 152kph while Yadav consistently hurled the ball at 140-145kph. Ishant wasn’t as fast but got the ball to bounce and returned with his best ODI figures (4/34) yet. It, no doubt, would have delighted the Indian supporters but it’s a sight as rare as a pothole-free road in Bangalore.
It’s not like the Lankan bowlers were off the mark right from the start. They had the Indian centurions Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan in a bind in the first 10 overs. But the home batsmen adapted well to the situation to flourish. The pitch was seaming and there was swing in the air and the Indian bowlers showed what they can do with a little bit of extraneous assistance.

“They bowled really well today,” Dhawan said of the Indian pacers. “They hit good lines and lengths at a very good pace. Most often, the batsmen were hurried into their shots. It is a good sign that India is producing good fast bowlers. They bowled with a lot of discipline. It’s great to see Ishant taking four wickets in his comeback match.”

Starting from the series against Australia in October last alone, India have conceded over 300 runs, either defending or bowling first, on six occasions in nine completed matches playing at home. While it’s progressively become tough bowling in conditions that are designed to heavily favour the batsmen, the rival bowlers have suffered worse at the hands of the marauding Indian willow wielders.

“It’s (India) not the best place to be a bowler,” conceded Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews after his bowlers were taken to cleaners in the first one-dayer. “The wickets are pretty flat and it’s hard work for the bowlers. Our bowlers are also inexperienced and we badly missed Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath.”

It’s a great entertainment for the crowd at the ground and for those watching it on TV. However, there is not only a high probability of batsmen getting a false sense of confidence but it also destroys the morale of the bowlers. George Bailey is a classic example. The Australian was in roaring form in the 2013 ODI series in India and was rewarded with a place in the following Ashes series at home. But the right-hander woefully fell short of expectations.

It’s a lose-lose situation in the long run.

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