Formidable bowling allies may boost India at Champions Trophy 

Pace arsenal and spin options give India’s five-bowler strategy a formidable look ahead of Champions Trophy, reports Venkata Krishna B.

Published: 21st May 2017 01:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st May 2017 05:34 AM   |  A+A-

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Beginning with the 2013 Champions Trophy, India have played 24 matches in four ICC events (50 overs and T20) and their record reads: Won 20, Lost 4.

Three of the defeats came in knockout stages, with the team reaching at least the semifinals on each occasion. It also coincided with a departure from the past, as India started entering these events with five frontline bowlers instead of the seven-batsman strategy.

As Virat Kohli & Co head to England on May 24 to defend the title, bowling makes them worthy contenders for the crown again.

For matches to be played in Birmingham, London and Cardiff, selectors have opted for four pacers — Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuveshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah — with all-rounder Hardik Pandya in the mix. Add Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and this can be an embarrassment of riches.

Going by the recent trend, pitches in England have been on the flatter side, but cold and overcast conditions — even during the English summer — might still compliment this attack.

Pace battery In Shami and Bhuvneshwar there are two swing bowlers, who often hit the right length, and make the ball move both ways. In 2013, Bhuvneshwar gave away just 18 in nine overs against Sri Lanka. On the 2014 Test tour of England, he was India’s leading wicket-taker. Shami — whose last ODI was in 2015 vs Australia in the World Cup — didn’t have a great outing in 2014, but has become a top exponent of swing and seam since.

Both are reliable at the death, especially Bhuvneshwar, who brings in a lot of variations. Bumrah, least experienced of the lot, is the most vibrant.

His proficiency with yorkers at the death in unseen from an Indian bowler and he has even added a mischievous slow yorker to his kitty. Though there is the danger of this ending up in full-tosses, his accuracy having learned the trade secrets from Lasith Malinga is commanding.

Umesh offers pace and has the experience of playing ICC events, where he usually lifts his game by a notch or two.

“India have a very good seam attack with each one being different from the other. The lengths they bowl naturally is the length you need to hit in England, because it is just a fraction fuller than back of the good length. They should play Shami, Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah with Hardik, as that will allow them to play two spinners.

“If the batting isn’t clicking, they can drop one and still have a balanced attack with Yuvraj in the mix. Umesh offers pace, and has been the most improved bowler.

They have all bases covered,” former India medium pacer Venkatesh Prasad said. All-round talent Then there is trio of all-rounders — Pandya, Ashwin and Jadeja — who are all likely to play against Pakistan on June 4. Ashwin’s limited-over performances might not be as glittering as his Tests, but he can keep an end tight by picking the odd wicket. Jadeja is no different.

Ashwin is fresh, having missed the IPL, but how quickly he finds rhythm might be a concern for the team management.

Both spinners are economical and although his IPL economy rate this year doesn’t show it, Jadeja is particularly notable in this respect. Other than playing cameos, Pandya has the potential to become an asset with his seam bowling, which has gained a good two yards of pace.

“If the pitches are dry, Ashwin and Jadeja will play all the matches and last time, both had a good tournament. But batsmen need to compliment them. Without that, bowlers are not going to win matches. You need to give them totals to defend,” Prasad added.

venkatakrishna@newindianexpress.com



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