England not only managed to beat India at their own game — spin, they also outperformed the hosts in the pace bowling department.
Naturally, at the start of the series against Australia, not many gave the India pace bowlers much of a chance when compared to the visitors' pace
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma were only expected to take the shine off the ball so that the spinners could work their magic.
The theory was further strengthened in the first Test where skipper MS Dhoni hardly summoned the pace duo. Prior to the Hyderabad game, Bhuvneshwar and Ishant didn't figure in discussions.
The first morning of the second Test changed it all. The Australia camp watched in disbelief as Bhuvneshwar set the game up with an exhibition of swing bowling, claiming three wickets to scythe through the top order.
During the spell, he also showed that effective pace bowling in sub-continent conditions is not restricted to the old ball.
To prove that his effort was no flash in the pan, the 22-year-old troubled the openers in the second innings as well. Ishant toiled without much success but his spell with the old ball in the second innings would have given him confidence.
As the series moves to the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali, the most seamer-friendly playing surface in India, the hosts will go in with the confidence that they have the arsenal to test the Aussies. And, unlike the first two games, Bhuvneshwar and Ishant will figure extensively in Dhoni's scheme of things.
“Definitely, the bounce will be better at Mohali and the wicket will be harder than Hyderabad and Chennai,” said former India pacer, national selector and Punjab coach, Bhupinder Singh Sr.
“The ball swings in the morning and evening and Bhuvneshwar should do well here. It's a venue where Ishant also enjoys bowling and has done well,” he added.
The former Punjab pace spearhead was floored by Bhuvneshwar's show with the new ball at Hyderabad. “He's a great find for India.”
The Australia batsmen grow up on a healthy diet of fast bowling and it's surprising to see them struggle against a medium-pacer. “The moving ball is always difficult even if bowled at 125 kmph. If you bowl with a right plan, it will give you results irrespective of the conditions,” observed Bhupinder.
“He has been sure which way he is swinging the ball and the angle he's swinging from. To succeed at the international level, you should be sure about these things and it's been the key to Bhuvneshwar's success.
“At Hyderabad, he was bowling the in-swingers to the left-handers from close to the wicket and kept it stump-to-stump,” said Bhupinder. For the connoisseurs of pace bowling, if curator Daljit Singh rolls out a typical Mohali track, there will be a lot to look forward too.
“At Mohali, the Aussie pacers will perform better as they will be fresh. When you are bowling at 140-plus, you need more time to recover. A gap of three-four days, like before the Hyderabad Test, is not enough. Here, they would be well rested and will enjoy the conditions,” he said.
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