Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Traditionally, pace bowling was never the forte of Indian cricket team. The team used to stick to the winning formula of posting mammoth totals and then putting pressure on the opposition with the guiles of crafty spinners to choke them.

We have seen the likes of Eknath Solkar and then, Sourva Ganguly, with their gentle medium pace sharing the new ball for India in the past. The team was over reliant on the spinners. The famous spin quartet of Erapalli Prasanna, S Venkataraghavan, B Chandrasekhar and Bishen Singh Bedi were leading the bowling attack of India in 1960s and 70s.

Then legendry Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh took over the reins from them and it was followed by Ravichandran Ashwin in the recent past. 

However, with a core of fast bowlers emerging during skipper Virat Kohli’s era, India’s winning formula has altered to be more dependent on the pace attack.

In the recently-concluded Lord’s Test, the pace quartet of India with a good balance of experience and youth blew away the English team in their own den. The first bowling unit of India comprising veteran Ishant Sharma, experienced Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami and rookie Mohammed Siraj was smarter and more skilful than their English counterparts. Many other pace bowlers like Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Navdeep Saini and an array of talented pacers emerging out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has made the department a potent force to reckon with.

Riding on the stunning performances of these pace bowlers, India is even facing a dilemma to choose between Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja who used to be their trump cards back in the subcontinent.

Skipper Kohli’s preference of aggression over caution by choosing firepower in the form of an extra pacer has really worked well for the team in Australia, England and South Africa. The important and interesting part of the pace bowling equation is all the bowlers are different and they complement each other. With most of the bowlers in their twenties and early thirties and many more coming up in the ranks, India is going to be the most dominant fast bowling team in the world in the next decade.

India is no doubt having a world-class bowling unit now. But without quality first bowling all-rounders like Kapil Dev the team balance is yet to be perfect. Hardik Pandya is not the same all-rounder as he used to be earlier following a barrage of injuries. Moreover, India is desperately in need of a quality pace bowling all-rounders to give a complete balance to the team.