The emergence of Ishant Sharma as strike force and the resurgence of Zaheer Khan have given India's bowling the edge and made the team potential world beaters, senior Test batsman Vangipurappu Laxman said.
Wiry fast bowler Sharma took 15 wickets and his new ball partner Zaheer took 11 on docile home pitches this month to record batting-heavy India's first test-series victory over top-ranked Australia in seven years.
"We'd never seen such kind of bowling on flat Indian pitches by Indian pacers. That was one of the reasons why the Australian batsmen were under tremendous pressure," Laxman told Reuters in an interview.
"The two contributed to half of the dismissals. That's been huge as we have always relied heavily on our spinners," said the wristy 34-year-old batsman, who became the eighth Indian to play in 100 tests during the series.
The 2-0 victory in the four-match series saw India move to second place in the official test rankings. Thirteen points separate them from Australia.
Ishant was adjudged player of the series versus Australia but missed the first two one-dayers against England on Friday and Monday with an ankle injury. India play two home tests against the tourists next month.
The seasoned Zaheer and the 20-year-old Ishant struck early blows and then troubled Australian batsmen by reverse-swinging the old ball, backing mainline spinners Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra and Anil Kumble, who tallied 32 between them.
"We've never bowled so well in tandem. The pressure was put by both the pacers and spin bowlers and right through. This was the first time I saw, and the team saw, we put pressure even on the scoring rate of the opposition," Laxman said.
Harbhajan took 32 wickets during Australia's previous test-series defeat in India in 2001.
The long-haired Sharma, who stands 1.93 metres tall and has a high-arm action, poses problems for batsmen with his ability to get the ball to lift disconcertingly from a length.
He has taken 38 wickets from 13 tests since his debut in May 2007 and particularly impressed on the tour of Australia early this year, shouldering the burden after Zaheer was injured.
Zaheer, 30, has been leading India's attack since his renaissance as an international strike bowler early last year after a stint in English county cricket.
"To become the number one test side we'll have to win consistently," said Laxman, who scored his second double century against Australia in the drawn third test.
"We've done well in recent times but there were one or two series when we didn't play to our potential," he said, referring to the test series defeat in Sri Lanka in August that led to a nationwide debate about whether the time was up for senior players.
"We definitely have got the talent and potential to become the number one."
India are in the process of rebuilding following the retirement of leg-spinner Anil Kumble, test cricket's third highest wicket-taker, and batsman Saurav Ganguly after the Australia series.
"All of us have taken the responsibility to perform consistently, that's why the team's been doing so well," he said.
"(With) the confidence from beating Australia and the manner in which we played our cricket, I am sure we can end on a positive note against England as well."