The Indian bowling attack is delivering under pressure
India's bowlers are repaying the faith shown by captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri, and how.
Indian fans of the 90s and early 2000s would just not believe what they are watching at the moment. They would likely be used to seeing batsmen win matches for India in ODIs and bowlers were a mere support act. But in the last year or so, the bowlers have been delivering under pressure consistently and helping India win from precarious situations.
During the final T20I against New Zealand (reduced to 8-over a side contest due to rain), India managed 67 and during the innings break, experts on air felt it wasn't enough to defend. But the bowlers understood from the first innings that the wicket wasn't as easy to bat because of the dampness and as a result the ball was gripping off the surface. Kohli's men successfully defended and India went on to win another series in this grand home season.
Bumrah emerging as the best limited overs bowler
Jasprit Bumrah is getting better with every outing at the international level. His ability to execute under pressure consistently is quite remarkable. He has been the go-to man for Virat Kohli whenever India need wickets at any stage of the innings.
In the third and final T20I at Thiruvanathapuram, Bumrah outsmarted Colin Munro with clever change of length and pace. He was not pitching the ball up, and instead used short length deliveries which didn't allow Munro to get under the ball and in between used his slower one to keep the batsman guessing. Munro tried to go over the top to a delivery that was not the ideal length and also a bit quicker than expected and that lead to a mistimed shot only to be brilliantly caught by Rohit Sharma running back from mid on.
That dismissal turned out to be the key in an 8-over chase as he was the in-form player with a hundred in the previous T20I.
Bumrah’s tally of 17 wickets in the limited overs series between Australia and New Zealand is more than the numbers. His impact has been much more, especially in the ODI series decider at Kanpur against the Kiwis when the visitors looked on track to chase down 338 with 35 required off 24 balls. Bumrah along with his partner Bhuvneshwar Kumar exhibited one of the best death over spells to steal the match in India’s favour.
India lost only one match against Australia in the five-match ODI series and incidentally Jasprit Bumrah was given a break and it was clearly felt as Australia went on to amass 334 and went on to win the 4th ODI at Bengaluru.
In 2017, Jasprit Bumrah stands fourth in the most wicket takers list with 35 wickets from 20 ODIs at 26.00 with one four and five wicket haul each and has risen to No 3 in ICC ODI bowlers ranking. He also holds the numero uno position in T20I bowler rankings.
Chahal the biggest plus for India in home season
The talking point of this home season for India has been the omission of finger spinners R Ashwin and R Jadeja and the inclusion of wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in white ball cricket.
It is quite evident under Kohli-Shastri combination; this team is looking for attacking options especially during the middle phase of an innings. And it must be said both Chahal and Kuldeep have grabbed the opportunity that has come their way. Especially the leg spinner, who came to limelight after bowling well for RCB in the IPL at his home ground Chinnaswamy Stadium where batsmen hit sixes for fun.
The biggest asset of Chahal is his temperament as he’s not afraid to toss the ball even against big hitting batsmen. His match awareness too has been very impressive and the way he changes the line with subtle change in pace makes him a genuine wicket taking option in white ball cricket. One classic example was how he changed the pace and pulled the length back which led to Guptill mistiming a lofted drive in Delhi in the first T20I and was caught brilliantly at long off by Hardik Pandya.
Another case of Chahal being a very smart bowler was how he foxed the big hitting Australian Glenn Maxwell in the limited overs series. The leg-spinner foxed the right-hander, who has a tendency to hit most deliveries towards long on, by bowling well outside off stump and inviting the batsman to drag the ball from there which is always a high risk shot. Chahal dismissed the "Big Show" four times through the series, three times in the ODIs and the other in the first T20I.
Yuzvendra Chahal scalped 14 wickets in the series against Australia and New Zealand and more importantly kept one end tight by not leaking too many runs. He even bowled with the new ball in the first T20I against New Zealand in Delhi and managed to keep Guptill and Munro quiet after India posted a huge 202-3.
Even though Chahal didn’t win the man of the match award in the T20I decider, his 0-8 in two overs was as impactful as Bumrah’s spell. Like Bumrah, the leg spinner too handled the pressure quite well and delivered on the big night.
Chahal's 15 wickets from 9 matches in T20I ranks him as the third most highest wicket taker in the shortest format this year and his 6-25 against England at Delhi in February, the best by an Indian bowler in T20I history, will not be forgotten for many years to come.