India vs New Zealand 2017: Rohit Sharma ready for Trent Boult 'challenge'
What's the story?
Ahead of the upcoming ODI series against the visiting New Zealand team, Indian batsman Rohit Sharma has opened up on the threat posed by Trent Boult. Hailing the fast bowler's prowess with the new ball, the elegant right-hander affirmed that the home side's batting lineup will be ready to tackle the left-armer's awkward angle.
During the pre-match press conference, Rohit said, "The last time India had a left-arm seamer was a long time back. I think Zaheer Khan was the last who played for India in the ODI format. Our team is used to that now and we have performed exceedingly well. For us as batters, it will be a challenge to face a left-arm seamer and Trent Boult being one of their prime left-arm fast bowlers, it will be a huge challenge for all the batters to come good against (him)."
"We played them last time and we know what they'll bring to the table and we know what they're capable of as a bowling unit. It's not just about one left-arm seamer, I guess we will have to look at their complete bowling unit."
In recent times, Indian batsmen have struggled against left-arm fast bowlers. Pakistan's Mohammad Amir scythed through their top-order to effectively settle the 2017 Champions Trophy final with a sizzling new-ball spell. More recently, Australia's Jason Behrendorff ripped their batting lineup apart with a four-wicket haul in the second T20I at Guwahati.
The heart of the matter
India's issues against the unique angle stem from the lack of quality left-arm fast bowlers at their disposal. As evidenced by the likes of Amir, Boult, Behrendorff, Mitchell Starc and Mustafizur Rahman, almost every bowling attack in the modern game possesses a quality left-arm pacer.
Since Zaheer's retirement and Irfan Pathan's decline, India have predominantly fielded only right-arm fast bowlers across both Tests and ODIs. While Ashish Nehra restricted himself to the game's shortest format, bowlers such as Barinder Sran and Jaydev Unadkat failed to sustain their slots in the playing eleven.
In order to counter Boult's left-arm angle, the Indian team management have roped in Arjun Tendulkar as one of the net bowlers. The first ODI against New Zealand is scheduled to take place at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.
India's paucity of quality left-arm fast bowlers can be discerned from the fact that they are practising against the 18-year-old Arjun. With the Ranji Trophy occurring concurrently, finding reasonable options can be quite difficult. Needless to say, Rohit and the other Indian batsmen will have to bring their A-game to tackle the challenge posed by Boult.