The one missing component in India’s pace arsenal is a quality left-arm fast bowler.
Since 2017 (in the last five years), Jasprit Bumrah and Md. Shami have claimed 235 and 199 wickets respectively, across all formats (Tests, ODIs, and T20Is). The two pacers have been maintaining their position in the top 10 rankings.
In the Pataudi Trophy (India’s tour of England), in the four Tests played, Bumrah claimed 18 wickets in 4 Tests and Siraj bagged 14, while Shami took 11.
The young sensation Siraj was instrumental in India’s second successive win on Australian soil. He was the highest wicket-taker for India with 13 scalps in 3 Tests.
Is this the best pace attack Team India has ever had?
Zaheer Khan, one of the best pacers India and world cricket has ever produced, spoke to TimesofIndia.com about that, saying: “Everyone has impressed me. Whether you talk about Shami who has a prominent seam position. He has done consistently well. He has a good track record providing some crucial breakthroughs at crucial times. He has been the bowling mainstay for the team. He has been leading the pace attack in Tests for a while now. You have Bumrah who has that X factor. He has the talent to get rid of the best batsmen in the world.”
“The team has got a lot of variety. You have Shardul. He has been contributing with both bat and ball. You have Umesh. He is also amazing. You have Ishant Sharma who is tall and has been wonderful with his bowling and got major breakthroughs. He has been around for over 100 Tests now. He provides valuable experience in the team. Siraj is another emerging talent we have. This is a wonderful bowling attack that the Indian team has,” Zaheer, who took 597 wickets (including Tests, ODIs, and T20Is) for India, further said.
MISSING A LEFT-ARM PACER
A left-arm fast bowler is always a big asset in any team’s pace battery. Indian cricket has had the likes of Zaheer, Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan in the past, but of late no left-arm pacer has managed to cement their place in the Indian team. The likes of Khaleel Ahmed, Barinder Sran and Jaydev Unadkat have all tried. Most recently, T Natarajan made waves with his bowling prowess in Australia, making his debuts in all three formats, but he has been plagued by injuries.
T Natarajan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
And the search continues.
“There are plenty of good talents in the circuit. It is just about the timing. Maybe the wait is a little longer (laughs). If you have that kind of option (left-arm pace), it’s a luxury. But you need to get someone ready to play at the highest level,” Zaheer further told TimesofIndia.com.
Also the way the current Indian pacers have been performing, there is no real space for a newcomer to break into.
“If the current bowlers are performing well, then the others will have to wait for their turn and put up the performances to push the bowlers who are playing,” Zaheer further said.
WILL HARDIK PANDYA MAKE A COMEBACK AS AN ALL-ROUNDER?
One player whose future is somewhat uncertain currently is Hardik Pandya. With Pandya not being able to bowl at full tilt, the team management and the selectors have decided to give him time to recover bowling form before he can be brought back into the fold. After all, he is an all-rounder. The selectors now have their eyes on someone like Venkatesh Iyer, who has been called up for the ODI series vs South Africa.
Hardik in fact was not retained by his IPL franchise, the Mumbai Indians, ahead of the mega player auction that is coming up.
(Photo by Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images)
Can Pandya regain full bowling fitness? Zaheer Khan, who has played for Mumbai Indians in the past (2009, 2010 & 2014) and is currently their Director of Cricket Operations thinks he definitely can.
“Absolutely. Hardik is very keen on that. That is what he is going to work towards. The retention calls usually take into consideration various aspects and angles. The debates are usually very long (laughs). It is not an easy process when you set yourself up for a big auction and say goodbye to all players with a heavy heart with whom you spent a lot of time and energy.”