HYDERABAD: The Ishant Sharma-led Indian fast bowlers have come in for a lot of flak for their poor show in the on-going Test series in Australia. Former Australian captain Mark Taylor made a pertinent point during the third Test at Melbourne and did not mince words on Ishant. He said this being Ishant’s third tour to Australia, the fast bowler should be knowing where to bowl on Australian wickets. “If he is not able to get the right length to bowl on Australian tracks, then it is poor cricket.”
Ishant has nine wickets from three Tests at 48.22. So has Mohammed Shami in two Tests at 43.45. Umesh Yadav has 10 wickets from two matches and has better average than the first two (36.60). But Varun Aaron has been very expensive for his five wickets have come at 72.40 in two Tests.
Former Indian fast bowler TA Sekar feels that the young Indian fast bowlers are getting carried away by the bounce. “They try to pitch short in the hope to bounce out the batsmen. But it did not work. By now the bowlers should have got their areas corrected. In Australia the length is the key. Even if we bowl a bit short, it is good for a cut or pull short. First of all, the bowlers have to stop by giving that width to cut or pull. You have to find the length to draw the batsmen forward,” he said.
Swing bowler Debasis Mohanty, who had toured Down Under with the Indian team in the past, said the bowlers need to be more disciplined in their approach. “India are trying to buy the wickets. They are bowling in good areas to the top order batsmen but later on they are losing their rhythm. I think there should be more discipline in their approach. It is best to bowl at the right length and allow the ball to move from there. Bowling short often would not help. It could be kept as a surprise weapon. The Indians should move the ball. That has been our strength,” he said.
Dwelling further on this issue, Sekar said because of his height, Ishant is getting the extra bounce. “But he is not moving the ball much. Bowling with Kookaburra ball is always going to be difficult. Our bowlers are more comfortable with the Duke ball. We have not played in Australia of late and the bowlers will find it difficult to get the right line and length. White Kookubora balls are different from red balls. By now they were supposed to get used to it. Variation is the key. They are not bowling yorkers or varying the angles. If you watch Ryan Harris, you can see how he uses the angles. You don’t see much with Mitchel Johnson. Harris’ angles are really good.”
Is India missing swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar with the new ball? Sekar doesn’t think so. “I don’t know how much he can do with Kookubora ball. It stops moving after 15 to 20 overs. Australian wickets doesn’t encourage reverse swing unless you tamper the ball. Again reverse swing is an art.’’
Sekar pointed out that someone like Zaheer Khan could have been a great help to the Indian bowlers. “I think Zak as mentor could have helped the young Indian bowlers lot as he has played a lot of cricket on Australian wickets. For instance Shami drifts the ball to leg side. He has bowled 96 overs and has bowled maximum of them on the leg side. It is a huge percentage in Test cricket. The good point of Ishant that he is not leaking runs but he is not taking the wickets.
According to Sekar, every bowler wants to bowl a length to take wickets. “Ultimately, length is natural, the line changes wicket to wicket. There could be some technical flaw that is not allowing them to bowl to that length. I’m not pointing my finger at anyone. B Arun is a good coach. But while playing a match, a coach has to get into the bowler’s brain.”