If you ask someone who the best Twenty20 bowler in the world is, the name of Lasith Malinga will figure very high on their lists. The odd action, the ability to fire in a yorker at will, the slower ball variations and of course, raw pace mean that the Sri Lankan is a tough guy to get away at any time in the game.
We’ve also seen the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Brad Hogg and Daniel Vettori bowl some very impressive spells in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League but as hard you try it’s hard to come up with the name of an Indian bowler who has consistently impressed.
So, humour us, and tell us who is India’s best T20 bowler.
Zaheer Khan, with his much-talked about hairstyle in tow, hasn’t exactly been a revelation.
In fact, he’s been rather under-par. He is clearly India’s best bowler in Test cricket but in the IPL, he’s looked ordinary.
Umesh Yadav has looked good in spells but still doesn’t have the consistency to make a sustained impact on the fortunes of the game. Varun Aaron, the other ‘fast’ bowler, still isn’t playing. Ashish Nehra has been hammered all over the park regularly. S Aravind has fallen away. Ashok Dinda is good in one game — that’s when his jump reminds Allan Donald of himself or so we’ve heard — and downright average in another.
“It’s a tough question because it exposes the fact that India’s bowling cupboard is rather bare. The only names that I can come up with are perhaps Parwinder Awana, who should have got a shot India ‘A’, and Praveen Kumar. Munaf Patel has done well too but other than that there is no one,” said veteran cricket writer Ayaz Memon on Sportstalk.
Indeed, a look at the top ten wicket-takers reveals that only three Indian bowlers have managed to make the cut. Munaf Patel, when he isn’t angry and cursing the umpires, has impressed with his line and length to take 12 wickets at 18 with an economy rate of 7.10. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla has also managed 12 wickets and his economy rate is an even more impressive 6.70. And the last Indian bowler to make the cut in the unheralded 30-year-old Amit Singh, who has ten wickets to his credit.
With the Twenty20 World Cup around the corner, the Indian team management would need to give the bowling attack some serious thought. If you can’t cut it in the IPL, then what are the chances of you succeeding in international cricket? With the tournament being held in Sri Lanka, the spinners will have to play a major role and who does India have in that department?
“Piyush Chawla has been very good. He did get hammered for 27 runs in an over but that was a one-off. He has been good and economical too. The T20 World Cup is a pretty long tournament too and the quality of players will be higher. So I feel that the performances in the IPL should be considered while picking that squad. Shahbaz Nadeem has been impressive for Delhi too. But other than that, India’s spinners have struggled,” said Ayaz.
Indeed, the likes of R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha (who hardly gets a game despite bowling well) haven’t done anything of note and perhaps a signal from the selectors might get them to put their best foot forward.
Either way, if your bowlers can’t protect a total, it won’t matter how many runs India’s batsmen manage to put on the board. It’s time they start to make their move or pay the price for not performing. This isn’t just about the IPL, this is about India.
You can watch the entire discussion between Sports Editor Ashish Magotra and Ayaz Memon above.