HYDERABAD: Since the start of the much-awaited home season, spinners were expected to play a crucial role in winning matches for India. After the series against New Zealand, England and Bangladesh, stats show how dominant they have been In nine Tests, the slower bowlers accounted for 121 wickets, as against 45 for the pacers. But there is something more to the contribution of quicks than just numbers.
When bowlers were struggling to take wickets on the fifth day of the one-off Test against Bangladesh at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on Monday, it was Ishant Sharma who got rid of two set batsmen — M Mahmudullah and Sabbir Rahman — and set the tone for the spinners.
There was a period that saw the Tigers put together a partnership. They were beginning to look comfortable when the lanky pacer came in and started firing on all cylinders. He troubled Mahmudullah with short deliveries. The batsman succumbed and hit one straight to the hands of fine-leg. For the other one, Ishant pitched the ball full and it came back a long way to hit the pads. It was only after this that the spinners thrived.
Similarly, in the first innings, when bowling was tough on this wicket, Umesh Yadav brought out his best game and prized out three important wickets. He was ably supported by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant. Few on numbers, but effective in getting breakthroughs, that sums up the contribution of Indian pacers in the home leg so far.
“All the fast bowlers bowled really well. The way Ishant bowled in the second innings, that gave our spinners chance to wrap things up. In the first innings, it was Umesh who bowled well. So the contribution of fast bowlers has been crucial. When we go abroad, these bowlers will be a real asset for us. In this Test, fast bowlers made all the difference,” Virat Kohli said after wrapping up a fifth straight win.
Earlier, Day 5 began in familiar fashion, bowlers picking up wickets in the first few overs followed by a long period of lull. Ravindra Jadeja got rid of star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan. In all, the left-arm spinner bowled 22 overs unchanged and kept hitting the rough to extract something from the surface.
Ravichandran Ashwin got rid of skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, when the batsman who scored a century in the first innings, was looking to score quick runs. Mahmudullah, who scored his first fifty after a year, looked good and batted patiently with Sabbir and the skipper. Mahmudullah’s hard work was undone by Ishant and that opened the gates for India. Though Kamrul Rabbi offered resistance and faced 70 deliveries, it was not enough.
India won the match in the 65th over of the day with Jadeja and Ashwin picking up four wickets each. Ishant finished with two. With the series against Australia starting on February 23, this bowling performance will stand India in good stead, assuming that the level of competition will be higher.