India's tour of South Africa 2018: Analysing India's bowling resources
It is said that batsmen save Tests and bowlers win them by scalping twenty wickets. The truism holds good across teams and continents, whether a side plays at home or away.
Talking from India's perspective, its core strength to achieve that desired objective, lied almost always with its wonderful array of "sheikhs of tweaks" over time, (barring of course when gents like Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath, and Zaheer Khan operated!) particularly wreaking havoc at abrasive dust bowls, crater-like minefields and in Bunsen burner like turners at home.
That it was against crease-tied visiting batsmen, with feet set in concrete and mental cobwebs exacerbated the visitors' misery, much to India's joy.
It is in the pace bowling front that India lately boasts of a bowling arsenal, that is increasingly fearsome, least of all abroad, varied in terms of techniques and execution, rhythmic (the X-factor that bowlers crave and yearn to achieve as if subconscious, and unhurried) and red hot in terms of form, fitness, temperament and miles in the legs, thanks to their continuous exposure and success.
It called for unstinted, grim efforts in benign, graveyard like surfaces of the subcontinent, which they mustered with stunning airspeeds and copious reverse swing. Against SA (who copped a 0-3 pounding in late 2015 in India in utter embarrassment) it is vitally paramount that the bowlers support the batsmen who are bound to face the heat at Capetown, Centurion and at Jo'burg. That it is comeuppance time for the Protean management to hand back the favour to the visitors does not augur well for starters!
Whoever said India does not breed pacemen in these lands famously fabled for producing wristy, rubber twisted gents, must have his head checked! To further emphasize the point, the Indian Board now has enough reserves up its sleeve to send a set of pacey net bowlers to accompany the side to SA to mitigate and wool wrap those senior men picked to play!
Bowling at 140 kmph with sustained aggression is the new 130 kmph of the modern day! Their real challenge would be to bowl longish spells in these pitches abroad with focus and aggression and at times up against scoreboard pressure too when the batting might fold in these tough conditions. Here are the men who'll matter with the ball for India.
His proclivity to swing the ball and bowl on a driving length consistently, to lure the batsmen to error-prone drives and feather nicks is next to none. By swinging the orb either way, he attacks both the edges of the blade. That he has increased his speed lately without sacrificing his core competence, i.e swing, as witnessed in helpful Kolkata conditions versus the Lankans is a glowing testimony to his mature head on slim shoulders.
The team management would sincerely hope and pray he does not break down midway, as it would be soul destroying in these salubrious climes. For pacemen raised in India, that would be an anathema! Should India achieve the bigger picture, his role can never be overstated. His wrist position, as the pundits claim, is impeccable and the ensuing seam position bolt upright.
A deadly lethal combo to unleash thunderbolts with his model load up, preceded by a bounding run that attacks the crease, he must not succumb to bowling back of a length in these decks, as an invited pitched up ball attracts swing and shots to swell his tally. His earlier sojourns after a spectacular debut versus the Windies in late 2013, on away tours, was nothing to write home about and put in that context, he has to deliver, for the time is now!