Spin may be the buzzword as India go into the Test series against Australia, starting on Friday, but the hosts' young pace bowlers are leaving no stone unturned as they gear up to provide early breakthroughs.
Australia's main strength lies in pace with the likes of Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson in the side, but the focus for India at the brief camp, which ended here on Monday, was to make accuracy and movement count.
The hard yards Zaheer Khan, the master of swing and control, is out due to injury and poor form. Ishant Sharma as well as Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashok Dinda — both yet to play Tests — thus worked hard to get the perfect seam position, so crucial to get the ball to swing, reverse or make it cut off the seam.
To this end, their practice weapon was the Aggot training ball. Compressed on both sides, it bounces only if it pitches on the seam; and a perfect wrist position is required to make that happen again and again.
Former India pacer Bharat Arun, the National Cricket Academy (NCA) bowling coach, explained that young trainees have been using it for some time. "It helps land the ball more on the seam, correct their release and get an immediate feedback on their bowling," he told HT.
The Aggot ball was used extensively in the three-day camp. Ishant, due to lead the attack, has had a lot of success against Australia batsmen with reverse swing. He is gaining full momentum after undergoing an ankle surgery last year. Bhuvneshwar's ability to prodigiously swing the ball has been credited to his excellent wrist position. Left-arm seamer, Irfan Pathan, another practitioner of swing bowling, is on rehabilitation at the NCA following a knee injury. He said India bowling coach, Joe Dawes, got a fresh set of balls from Australia.
"It's really helpful for those who don't have a good wrist position or those who are trying to get their bowling rhythm back." A twin-coloured ball - one half pale yellow and the other red - is also used to help bowlers see whether the seam is wobbly or straight.
(With inputs from Khurram Habib)