How Team India is just one bowler short of becoming the best pace attack in Tests
Be it a World Cup, Champions Trophy, or overseas tours, Team India, since last decade, has more often than not, suffered defeat due to lack of fast bowlers in the country, thus relying a lot on their batsmen to win them matches.
A nation which continues to produce top-notch batters hasn't been able to make a telling contribution when it comes to the production of fast-bowlers. However, in three overseas tours in last one year, the tables have turned drastically, as India now seemingly look a completely different side, boasting of a fast-bowling army which has - swing, bounce, and most importantly pace.
For the first time in over a decade, India now boasts of five-potent fast bowlers who can bowl over 140 clicks, swing the ball and use the bouncers at will - Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The performances of the pace attack in the last three overseas tours have, certainly, assured us that India bowling line has the ability to take all ten-wickets against any team, be it at home or away tours. And, they certainly have done on almost all occasions.
Not often we have said that in an overseas defeat, it was India's batting which led the team down and not the bowling. That's what had been the case in the series against England and South Africa.
Indian bowlers in 2018 were literally outstanding, breaking several records, thanks to some superb bowling by the quicks. For the first time in history, Indian bowlers took more than 250 wickets in a calendar year (261 scalps in 14 matches), the trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, and Mohammed Shami claimed 133 wickets combined in the year 2018. Moreover, Jasprit Bumrah became the first bowler to take 45 wickets in a debut year.
Indian bowling in the last one year has done wonders for the team, however, there is still, perhaps, one armoury left in the tank for India to become the best test bowling line up in the world - a left-arm seamer.
Yes, you read it right! A nation which boasted of outstanding left-arm seamers with the likes of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh etc. hasn't been able to produce much lately.
India in the last couple of years have tried a few left-arm seamers, namely Jaydev Unadkat and Barinder Sran, however, none of them could yield fruitful results to the team.
Having a left-arm bowler in the side adds variety, making it an even more potent bowling attack. On a flat pitch, where the ball isn't doing much, left-arm seamer could come handy who forces the right-handers to change their stance a little and thus cause problems. And if someone can bring the ball in at the same time, problems get plenty.
Also, there is no denying the fact that the Indian batting line-up has always been vulnerable to left-arm quicks. Pakistan's speedsters such as Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan have troubled Indian batsmen at will in almost all the showpiece events. Recently, in the ODI series against New Zealand, Trent Boult ripped through Indian batting line0up owing to his ability to bring the ball back in, combined with those accurate bouncers. Having a left-arm pacer in the squad would undeniably give Indian batsmen adequate practice in the nets before they face those fierce bowlers.
And with the crippling shortage of left-arm seamers in India right now, the 21-year-old tall left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed is perhaps the one for future.
Keeping the World Cup 2019 in mind, India, in all likelihood, look at Khaleel Ahmed to fill the shoes for the left-armer's role. Khaleel made his debut in the Asia Cup match against Hong Kong where he finished with figures of 3-38 in his 10 over quota.
However, the left-arm seamer hasn't managed to impress in the Australia and New Zealand tour. In the recently concluded T-20 series against New Zealand, Khaleel accounted for 122 runs in 12 overs, picking up only four wickets.
One would also understand that these are just early days for the 21-year-old bowler and bringing curtains down would be a harsh call knowing India lack quality left-arm seamers.
India must give more chances to Khaleel not only in white-ball cricket but also in Test Cricket in a bid to end the look-out for another Zaheer Khan or Irfan Pathan to have all bases covered in the bowling department.
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