Where are India's Twenty20 bowlers?
25th May 2012 02:45 PM
While our batsmen have learnt a few new tricks to stay ahead of the game, the same cannot be said about our bowlers.
When India chased down a mammoth 320 runs in just 36.3 overs against Sri Lanka in Hobart earlier this year, a mammoth, unprecedented feat had been achieved. Virat Kohli, the star of the match, had later revealed that this had been made possible by breaking down the chase into two Twenty20 matches.
Scoring 160 in 20 overs had been par for the course and hence the pressure never really got to the team. That was remarkable thinking and reason enough for the experts to hail the shortest format of the game which had indeed provided another dimension to 50-over cricket, and to the Indian cricketers.
The Indian batsmen, having played a crucial role in the world's biggest Twenty20 tournament, the IPL, have now begin to treat chasing 10 an over with irreverence. That's one of the biggest gifts of the IPL to Indian cricket, the nerve to take on any challenge. But that's only half the story.
How has the IPL affected Indian bowlers?
While our batsmen have learnt a few new tricks to stay ahead of the game, the same cannot be said about our bowlers. IPL 5 has thrown up a couple of young Indian batsmen who, if nurtured well, have the temperament to take on the best in the world. Then there are the likes of Gambhir, Sehwag, Rahane, Rohit etc. who have enhanced their reputation as game-changers. Unfortunately, the bowlers don't find themselves in the same league, of course with the exception of Parwinder Awana. In fact, even the settled Indian bowlers have lost a bit of sheen over the last seven weeks. And that should be a cause of major concern for the Indian selectors, for the ICC World Twenty20 isn't too far away.
Let's figure out the new ball options available to the Indian team. Zaheer Khan is most likely to spearhead the bowling attack but an economy rate of 7.55 over 15 games is a true reflection of how much he enjoys bowling in this format. While he's a different bowler in the remaining two formats, Zaheer has never been India's best in Twenty20.
The other option with the new ball could be Irfan Pathan, but eight wickets in 17 games isn't exactly the strike-option MS Dhoni would like to have operating with the new ball. Then there's the newest million dollar baby, Vinay Kumar, who's been amongst the wickets - 18 to be precise - but his economy rate (8.59) is beyond acceptable levels. Praveen Kumar too has looked half the bowler he was post the elbow injury and almost always finished his quota by the seventh over. Not something you'd want from your main bowler.
The only bright spot has been Umesh Yadav's relentless aggression but even he's struggled to stem the flow of runs in the death overs. From the current lot, barring Zaheer, there isn't a single one who can be entrusted with the job of bowling from the 16th-20th overs.
It's not just the fast bowlers who have left a lot to be desired, for the spinners haven't spun their web either. Ashwin has been the best Indian spinner with regards to his economy rate but the fact that wickets have deserted him puts a lot of pressure on the captain. Jadeja, Harbhajan, Ojha, Chawla and Mishra have barely managed to play a supporting role, while the foreigners in their respective teams have had to take care of both breaking the partnerships and bowling in the slog overs too. While it is believed that the best fast bowlers are overseas players, it should really bother the selectors that even the best spinner in the league isn't an Indian.
If this season of the IPL is anything to go by, we must brace ourselves for a possible setback in the World Twenty20. There are quite a few loopholes in our bowling that our batting line-up can plug.
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