New Delhi: India’s young fast-bowling unit has impressed former pacer Zaheer Khan, who believes that the group has enough variety to sustain its success at the highest level.
The pacers, led by Jasprit Bumrah, have so far picked 23 wickets in the ongoing Test series in Australia, troubling the hosts with their speeds and movement in Adelaide and Melbourne. Even in the ongoing Test in Sydney, where the pitch is significantly suited for batting, the trio of Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and rookie Navdeep Saini have combined to snare five Australian wickets in the first innings.
The absence of senior spearhead Ishant Sharma due to injury sustained prior to the tour, and the subsequent pull-outs of Mohammed Shami (after the first Test) and Umesh Yadav (after the second Test) have done little to diminish India’s fast-bowling arsenal as replacements have stepped up to be counted.
“It’s really heartening to see how Indian fast bowlers have performed in this series. Jasprit Bumrah has led the pace attack really well in the absence of Ishant and Shami. Then, Siraj has adjusted at the international level admirably, which shows the kind of talent that is coming up and pushing the senior guys,” Zaheer told Firstpost.
The former pacer, who picked 311 wickets in his 14-year Test career, credited the country’s cricketing infrastructure and the Indian Premier League (IPL) for ensuring the young bowlers arrive well prepared at the international level.
“I am happy with the overall fast bowling scene in India and how it has evolved over the years. I think credit must be given to the cricketing system in the country that has ensured that bowlers look a lot ready and have access to the right knowledge at the right time in their careers.
“Then, IPL has also played a major role in the development of bowlers. It has given youngsters an opportunity to rub shoulders with world-class bowlers which has really helped their development. All these factors have combined to play an instrumental role in the journey of fast bowling in India.”
Analysing the strengths of each Indian bowler, Zaheer reckoned that despite the attack comprising of entirely right-arm bowlers, it does have enough variety in terms of style.
“Well, it is really surprising that we don’t have a left-arm pacer, but I believe that all bowlers are distinct in their own ways. Bumrah creates an awkward angle for the batsmen with his unique action; Ishant generates extra bounce with his height; Umesh swings the ball; Shami’s seam position is immaculate and he hits beautiful lengths.
“Then, we have newcomers in Saini and Siraj, both of whom have been impressive. Saini bowls out and out quick and has all the makings of a good Test bowler, and Siraj slipped into the role of the third seamer wonderfully in the second Test. I think this bowling unit is constantly pushing the bar and is striving for excellence. Their progress is truly satisfying to see,” Zaheer, the second most successful Indian pacer in Test cricket after Kapil Dev, said.
The 42-year-old, who is also the founder of ProSport Fitness, insisted on the need to have an educated approach towards fitness for budding athletes.
“I think it is very important for young athletes to get the right kind of knowledge from the right people when it comes to fitness. Fitness is a systematic and scientific process that needs customized planning and attention. Efficient injury management, right physiotherapy and proper knowledge sharing are integral to achieving your fitness goals. At ProSports, we aim to do just that, and provide customized, scientific solutions,” he concluded.
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The visitors need to chase down 407 – which would be the third-highest successful chase in Test history – or, more realistically, bat out around 130 overs to leave themselves a chance of winning this series.
After five days of intense Test cricket, the two teams cannot be separated as India pull off something similar to a heist, if the term can be applied in the context of a draw. Five days of facing Smith and Labuschagne’s brilliance with the bat, the pace trio and Lyon bowling as sharply as ever and some hostilities from the crowd, in addition to the spate of injuries and the absence of their talismanic regular captain. If the Gill-Rohit opening stand gave the early impetus, it was the surreal counter-attack by Pant and Pujara that truly turned things around today, with Vihari and Ashwin’s stonewalling efforts in the end while battling physical discomfort the cherry on the cake.India will look to carry the momentum over to the Gabba, a venue that is considered Australia’s fortress, with the series still level 1-1. Given the way Rahane and Co have fought back after the 36 all out debacle, they’ll certainly hope to end the tour on a high. For now, it’s time for me to sign off on behalf of my colleague Shubham!
Jasprit Bumrah, the key to India's bowling attack, sustained an abdominal strain during the drawn third Test in Sydney.