Impressed by the spin-bowling stocks at India‘s disposal, Bharat Arun believes the team is well-equipped in the department and that the conscious decision is to opt for a “horses-for-courses” approach to determine the selection of a spinner.
Arun, India’s bowling coach, in conversation with The Hindu revealed that India are proud to boast the kind of variety that it has in the spin department. R Ashwin is one of the most premier offspinners in the world, while Ravindra Jadeja’s ability to bat and be the best fielder in the world is an asset. And although Kuldeep Yadav did not get a game, he remains an integral part of India’s bowling plans.
In the recently concluded Test series against South Africa, Ashwin picked up 15 wickets at an average of 25.26. Jadeja, apart from grabbing 13 wickets, scored 212 runs at a healthy average of over 70. Kuldeep’s replacement, Shahbaz Nadeem, making his debut for India, claimed four wickets in the match, including the final two which won India the third Test in Ranchi and effected a 3-0 clean sweep.
Talking highly of the Ashwin-Jadeja combo, Arun said: “He’s [Ashwin] among the best spinners in the world, top class, and is approaching 400 Test wickets. In fact Ashwin went to England and Australia as our No. 1 spinner and then ran into fitness issues.
“Ravindra Jadeja grabbed his chance, giving us control with the ball, solidity with the bat and fielding brilliantly. Away from home, if we have to pick one of the two in the eleven, it will be horses for courses looking at the conditions and the opposition. Then we have Kuldeep Yadav who picked five with his wrist spin in his last Test, in Sydney. We have an embarrassment of riches.”
While spinners affected 32 dismissals in the series, the pacers made their own impact. Without Jasprit Bumrah, India risked the possibility of perhaps fielding a remotely vulnerable pace bowling attack, but the way Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav performed in the series, combining for 24 wickets is a testament to the depth available in the department.
“He’s strong and quick and now he is bowling in better channels, making the batsman play around the off-stump. He’s got reverse swing, has a nasty short ball,” Arun added. “He and Shami, who is fast, accurate and dangerous, are a potent combination. We not only have quality pace bowlers but quality fast bowlers with different skill sets. And unlike in the past where we had one or two exceptional bowlers, we now have a bunch of pacemen who can bowl at over 140 kmph.”
Arun provided an update on Bumrah, and is confident of the fast bowler regaining fitness in time for India’s tour of New Zealand starting January next year. Bumrah was sidelined from the three-Test series against South Africa due to a stress fracture and is expected to be out of action till at least the end of this year.
“Fast bowling is an unnatural activity. Despite our best efforts there can be no guarantees. We expect Bumrah to be back sooner than later, hopefully in time for the New Zealand Test series that is our next big challenge. As of now, he doesn’t need surgery,” Arun said.