There was a time when a genuine fast bowler was rare in Indian cricket. Now, even if there are three or four who can consistently touch 140 kph, they fail to make the squad.
Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav have not been able to find a place in the India squad in all three formats due to a lack of consistency.
The first to arrive on the scene, Ishant made an impact in the 2008 Test series in Australia. He consistently clocked 150 kph, made Ricky Ponting his bunny and troubled the mighty Aussies with reverse swing. Since then, he has been in and out of the side.
His next high came in the 2014 Lord’s Test, where he claimed a six-wicket haul to help India win. Ishant bowled well in the sub-continent last year and teamed up with Umesh Yadav in Delhi to help India clinch the series 3-0 against South Africa.
However, Ishant hasn’t replicated this performance with the white ball. His ODI economy is just under six, as his control is not as good. In January, he played four ODIs in Australia and took nine wickets but conceded 250 runs. It didn’t come as a surprise when he wasn’t picked for the WT20.
In the IPL, he has played only four of Rising Pune Supergiants’ eight games, taking three wickets.
Former India coach Madan Lal analysed the problem with the trio. “Ishant hasn’t improved despite playing so much. It seems he doesn’t work in the nets. For me, he will never be on a par with Zaheer Khan because he doesn’t realise his strengths.”
Fitness has been an issue for Aaron. Last year, he bowled well without success in the only Test he played in Sri Lanka and played two Tests against South Africa. He too does not complement pace with variation. Swing has been missing, and though he started well with the new ball for RCB, he ends up becoming predictable. He is yet to take a wicket in IPL 9.
“Aaron is a one-dimensional bowler and speed alone cannot get you wickets,” said Madan Lal.
Umesh has been taking wickets for the Knight Riders, although he has been erratic and gone for runs. He has taken wickets with the new ball when he lets it swing, and move in the air and off the pitch.
However, when he is brought back to bowl with the old ball, he bowls fuller and drifts down the leg.
“Even though he can move the ball, Umesh doesn’t work hard on his bowling. He is the most inconsistent of the three and lacks pride to do well for the country,” Madan Lal signed off.