World Cup: Teams are now wary of India's pacers

  • Nilankur Das, Hindustan Times, Auckland
  • Updated: Mar 13, 2015 23:30 IST

At the near corner of the practice nets of Eden Park, Zimbabwe batsmen were taking throw-downs of short-pitched bowling. Even a month back, it would have been difficult to justify such training by a team ahead of their match against India. But the five matches in the World Cup have changed the world's perception of Indian bowling.

With the likes of Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami, both of whom can regularly clock 140 kmph, teams have begun to take notice as India have used the short ball effectively, especially in the matches in Australia. India are the only side other than co-hosts New Zealand to take all 50 wickets in five matches.

But there has been a slight problem. Umesh's rhythm has been erratic and he is yet to demonstrate that he can quickly make the minor adjustments to the length of his deliveries to suit the conditions.

After an ordinary start against Pakistan in the first match in Adelaide, where he went for 23 off three overs, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had to take him off the attack. Umesh did come back later from the other end and take two quick wickets, but they were both due to some poor shot selection by the batsmen.

Not consistent

He found form in the next match against South Africa in Melbourne to rattle the batsmen. And against West Indies in Perth where the sea breeze across the ground helped move the ball a bit, Umesh was at times absolutely unplayable. Back on a flat, unresponsive wicket at the Seddon Park, Umesh was again hammered by the Ireland batsmen and had to be taken off the attack.

"Frankly, we misplayed it a bit," Dhoni had accepted after the first match. "That was the reason why Umesh was stopped in the first five overs. I wanted him to use the new ball well, which I felt he didn't, but he has pace so I gave him a break over there, brought in Mohit (Sharma)," Dhoni explained.

"Just having a bowler who can clock over 150 kmph can create doubts in the minds of batsmen. The bowler may be erratic but a batsman will always be sceptical of that one delivery that may land in the right area," said Umesh's coach and former India pacer Subroto Banerjee, who had spent quite a few years in Australia.

"But with speed, you need consistent line and length. His length was up and down. He needs to work on his discipline."

But Zimbabwe coach Dav Whatmore was willing to put his money on India going all the way. "It's a team that is bowling out the opposition quite regularly. That's been a huge plus point I'm sure for India. Their batting talent was never really in question. What was needed was a strong bowling performance," he said.

Captain's take

After the win over Ireland, Dhoni said: "I remember when the two-bouncer rule was introduced, I said: 'We don't bowl even one bouncer, will I carry the two bouncers home?' Now we have bowlers who bowl in the 140s and the boundaries are long. We've used the bouncer well. We're using the conditions and they're enjoying it."

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