Indian pacers are posing a serious challenge to opposition batsmen at slow Indian pitches. They are no more playing the second fiddle to Indian spinners. Indian pace bowling duo Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav have been bowling with pace and hitting the right channel which made them unplayable even on the Indian pitches. Remember the third Test at Mohali where on the fourth day England batsman Chris Woakes’ neck guard flew off the helmet as Mohammad Shami’s bouncer hit him on the back of the head. The well-directed bouncer rattled the batsman. In most of the cases, bowlers show restraint in the next delivery but Shami bowled another bouncer which hit the gloves of Woakes and went to wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel.
In international cricket many fast bowlers use their pace and bounce to intimidate the batsman, so Shami and Umesh deployed the same strategy at Indian condition. In the last decade, we have not seen Indian bowlers had been troubling batsmen at Indian condition. Only Zaheer Khan with in-swinger and reverse swing has enjoyed success at Indian pitches. But besides Zaheer, there was no bowler who has the caliber to pose a challenge to the opposition batsmen. It was always spinners who played the lead role to take India twenty wickets.
However, Zaheer has reduced his pace and focused on line, length, and swing which worked for him. He had uncanny ability to reverse the old ball. But unlike Zaheer, Shami and Umesh have pace. Shami’s slower, off the seam delivery, toe crushers, and ability to move the ball both ways made him the most potent weapon for India while Umesh works on seam and pace. They are using their all weapons at Indian pitches to disturb the visiting team. (Ranji Trophy 2016/2017: Mohammed Azharuddeen leads Kerala to their first victory of this season)
In the first innings of Mohali Test England’s 19-year-old opener Haseeb Hameed, who impressed everyone with his impeccable technique and temperament, hit on the left hand off the delivery of Umesh Yadav. The ball went to slip cordon where Ajinkya Rahane caught the ball. As Hameed got out he went to X-ray and found a ‘tiny crack’ in his little finger. In the second innings, he failed to open the innings but came to bat at No. 8. After the match England team management sent Hameed back home.
Indian bowlers nowadays clock 140kph regularly. They no more play the second fiddle to Indian spinners at home. Captain Virat Kohli’s five-bowler theory finally fulfilled as Shami, who made a comeback in West Indies after a year of injury lay-off, has become India’s pace spearhead replacing Ishant Sharma, who is now out of the playing XI. (Virat Kohli’s team has bowling attack to win overseas Tests: Virender Sehwag)
Shami is more consistent than Umesh. He could bowl through the certain channel which earned him the wicket and trouble batsmen. The Bengal pacer so far has taken 10 wickets in three matches at an average of 25.20 while Umesh has taken five wickets in three matches at an average bowling average of 61.40. But wickets and bowling average doesn’t tell everything about Umesh as his pace and swing with the new ball made him a lethal weapon for captain Kohli.
If Umesh troubles the batsmen, Shami will taste the success. This is the beauty of this bowling pair. The 26-year-old pacer has also taken a fifer. In the second Test at Visakhapatnam Shami pierced through England skipper Alastair Cook’s defense and broke the off stump. The dismissal sent a shock wave to England dressing room. In the second innings, his toe-crusher uprooted England’s last line of defense.
Talking about Shami and Umesh’s sharpness and speed former Indian pacer and current Indian bowling coach said, “They are hunting as a pair. If there is something which has impressed me, it is their seam position. If you get your seam right, you can generate pace off the wicket, which Zaheer used to do. This is exactly what they have done. The length has also been up there.”
Meanwhile, another former Indian pacer TA Sekhar, who worked with Shami and Umesh, said he was impressed with the pace at which these two bowlers are bowling, “They have not compromised on pace. Shami has looked fitter. His seam position is also better than what it was last year. Yadav, on the other hand, bowls with a lot of heart even if he goes for runs. What I like about him is even if he doesn’t have a big build, he has never reduced his pace.”
Captain Virat Kohli aggressive strategy to press hard on the opposition helped this bowling duo to enjoy the bowling which consistently brings them the success. Talking about this Sekar pointed a difference between former Test captain MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli’s captaincy which made the real difference in seam bowling at Indian condition. “Dhoni had a different gameplan. He would wait for the batsmen to make mistakes and his brief to the bowlers was to bowl the nagging line.Kohli always looks to attack and force the batsmen to commit mistakes. These two bowlers are always in the batsmen’s face. So they complement Kohli’s style of captaincy,“ Sekhar opined.