India vs Bangladesh: Virat Kohli explains what separates India fast bowlers from the rest
Lethal. Relentless. Skilful. World-class. Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque and coach Russell Domingo have used these words often while describing the Indian fast bowlers in the last couple of weeks. They had their reasons too. Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami shared 14 wickets among them in the first Test in Indore. The domination went up several notches in Kolkata during the pink ball Test. The Indian fast bowlers bowled Bangladesh out inside 30.3 overs on Day 1 and on Day 3, it took them just 47 minutes to claim the remaining 4 wickets and wrap up the Test match. Bangladesh lasted all of 71.4 overs in the day/night Test.
Al-Amin Hossain was the last man to go, it was one of the faintest of edges to Wriddhiman Saha. Umesh Yadav completed a five-for – his third in Tests - as India crushed Bangladesh by an innings and 46 runs to sweep the series. But there were no erratic celebrations, no outrageous screams from neither Umesh nor the team. All seamed so smooth, so inevitable. India sweeping series and fast bowlers being the architect of it was no longer a rare sight.
“Everything happens with time,” said India captain Virat Kohli. “They have gained more experience and now they are bowling well together. Now they take ownership of their training, their fitness and everything. Shami was already in the system when I became captain, Ishant had played 4-5 years of Test cricket, Bhuvi was in the system, Umesh also came into Test cricket in 2012, Bumrah is a late addition but he has blend in very well too.”
Ishant, who claimed his first five-wicket haul at home after 12 years on Day 1 of this Test, was adjudged player of the series for picking 13 wickets in 2 Tests. The trio of Ishant, Umesh and Shami shared 34 of the 39 Bangladesh wickets, outbowling – both in terms of wickets and in terms of overs – spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja at home that wishful thinking even a couple of years ago. But things have changed.
This was the second time in two years when Indian pacers had kept the spinners away from the wickets column for an entire Test match. Ishant (9), Umesh (8) and Shami (2) shared 19 wickets – the highest ever by Indian pacers at home – in the pink ball Test. Two of them – Shami and Umesh – were part of the XI which had taken 17 wickets a couple of years ago at this venue against Sri Lanka. A lot of the credit must be attributed to the team management for making the fast bowlers feel secure, said Kohli.
“The communication is very clear. If someone is going through a workload problem, we don’t tell them it’s upto you, we take that call for them. We tell them to train and comeback, bowl like this, get 20 wickets. They feel very secure. Even if they don’t play, we have enough back-up bowlers, so the bench strength is also helping us a lot,” added Kohli.
What separates the Indian fast bowling unit from the rest of the world, is their ability to pick up wickets even on pitches which are less conducive to fast bowling. “I think it’s the skill set. All three of them (Ishant, Shami and Umesh) have a lot of skill and that’s why India have one of the best fast bowling unit in the world,” said Mominul Haque.
The foundation was laid much earlier. Even in the last series against South Africa, Shami and Umesh picked up 10 wickets while three spinners shared the other 10 on a Ranchi pitch which was anything but seamer-friendly. On the same track Kagiso Rabada picked only 3 and Lungi Ngidi went wicketless.
“When the fast bowlers don’t get wickets on difficult conditions, my and Ravi (Shastri) bhai’s job is to put in small reminders as to why they have started playing this game, you can’t let loose when the situation is not in favour. I think that change of mindset has helped them pick up wickets on pitches that the others feel are dead and not just in India but also in Australia in that Sydney Test, our fast bowlers were pretty effective and lethal,” said Kohli.