Fast, furious, very effective

Fast, furious, very effective

Boom boom: Jasprit Bumrah has rattled the Australians with his express pace. AFP

Whenever Jasprit Bumrah gets ready to bowl a new over or a spell, the description below his name on the screen reads “right arm fast” -- a welcome change from what has been a common sight for many years: “right/left-arm medium fast.”     

Bumrah has fired the imagination of Australians like few Indian pacers have before on their maiden visit. His gallop towards the popping crease, the angled release and, more importantly, the pace he generates with that awkward action, have all fascinated them. He has been with the Indian Test team only for about a year, having made his debut against South Africa in Cape Town this January, but has made the biggest impact on the team.

His addition to the pace group has provided a different dynamic to India’s bowling, and you can see why they have bowled out teams twice so many times in the last one year. Out of last 10 Tests -- spread over South Africa, England and Australia -- Indian bowlers have bowled out the opposition in both innings in eight of them. It’s only because the batting has been so inconsistent that India have failed to make the most of the attack they have always craved for.

There is a talk in the Australian media that this may be the best Indian attack to ever have set its feet Down Under and there is little to make you believe otherwise. Greater pacers may have accompanied the Indian team to Australia in the past – from Kapil Dev to Javagal Srinath to Zaheer Khan – but they never had an attack of four-five world-class players that can make the rival camp think twice before going on to produce green tops.

You need bowlers that can bowl fast with sustained hostility, create pressure and maintain it for long spells from either end, forcing the batsmen into mistakes. With varying pace and skill-sets, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar –- depending upon which set of bowlers India go with in a particular match -- have been able to provide that edge to the Indian attack. The biggest difference, perhaps, has been the fitness of these bowlers. If you start your day clocking in the late 140 kph and finish the day bowling at almost similar pace in pitiless conditions, then it speaks volumes about the fitness of a bowler.      

“I think it’s pretty different from what we had when we came here last time,” Virat Kohli had said at the start of the series when asked if he had the attack he wanted. “They are more experienced, and the guys are fitter than they were when they came here last time. I think the key in Australia is to keep bowling in the right areas for longer periods of time and the conditions also become hard because it can get really hot and the pitches can be flat purely because of the Kookaburra not doing much after 20-odd overs till it reverses around 45-50 (overs). That middle phase is very crucial. We have identified those things and the guys themselves feel that they are at the peak of their skill-level at the moment. They are looking forward to this challenge,” elaborated the Indian skipper.

Shami toured Australia during the 2014-15 series and went back with a mixed bag of results. Four years later, he is a different bowler. He is, of course, more experienced, but he doesn’t have to worry about what the bowler at the other end does or doesn’t.

“As you would have seen, after such a long time we have an Indian pace attack where all the bowlers are fast and are bowling good lines and lengths,” he noted.

“Four years ago, we weren’t even this experienced. Now we have the experience. You must have seen the difference in our accuracy from four years ago. It helps a lot to have a good bowler at the other end, who has the same mentality as you have and is keeping things tight. This keeps the pressure up, and sometimes you don’t even realise when the game turns your way. The bowler at the other end is sometimes just as important,” he acknowledged.

Now if only the much-pampered batsmen could show some spine and complement their bowlers.