Renowned commentator Harsha Bhogle has opined that Virat Kohli has been the biggest influence in the growth of Indian fast bowlers. He added that the current Indian captain's preference for fast bowling has brought the pacers to the forefront.
Harsha Bhogle spoke in detail about his own career as a commentator apart from the growth of Indian pace bowling in an interaction on the YouTube show Cric Cast.
On being asked how he saw the growth of Indian fast bowling, Harsha Bhogle responded that he had never imagined that India would have such a line-up of pace bowlers, with Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan carrying the baton in the previous generations.
"I had never thought that India will have so many fast bowlers to choose from. We felt that the crop of fast bowlers grows in Pakistan. There was a phase of Kapil Dev, followed by Javagal Srinath and then Zaheer Khan."
Harsha Bhogle observed that while Zaheer Khan had an impact on the current generation, the biggest contributing factor for the fast bowlers' growth has been the importance given to them by Virat Kohli.
"Zaheer Khan had a bit of an influence on the next generation but I feel the biggest influence has been that of Virat Kohli. Because Virat Kohli likes playing with fast bowlers. Dhoni was a very good captain of spin bowling. But after Virat Kohli came, we had Bhuvneshwar Kumar, then Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami came back again."
Harsha Bhogle added that when MS Dhoni was the captain, the Indian bowling attack was dominated by spin bowlers with Ravichandran Ashwin claiming a bagful of wickets in every match, but that that has changed after Virat Kohli took over the captaincy.
"When Dhoni was the captain, Ashwin used to get 7-8 wickets in every match. When Kohli became captain, we play with only spinner at times when we go abroad. That little impact has been there because of Kohli."
Harsha Bhogle on the influence of the previous generation
Harsha Bhogle highlighted the confidence in the younger crop of Indian fast bowlers, who have been inspired by the exploits of Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth, RP Singh and Irfan Pathan from the previous generation.
"The new generation that is coming is saying that they can also bowl fast, where is it written that they can't bowl fast."
"And once one generation starts becoming a little successful, it was not only Zaheer Khan, to some extent it was Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth, RP Singh, and Irfan Pathan, so there was a combination of 5-6 bowlers. One generation always leads to the next. Suddenly we are getting a good crop."
Harsha Bhogle was quick to add that while the Indian pace bowling stocks have risen, the batting standards seemed to have fallen a little.
"But we do not have those many batsmen as we used to have in Test cricket."
Harsha Bhogle signed off by acknowledging that he had never imagined that the Indian fast bowlers would be quicker than their England counterparts one day.
"No one would have thought that India went to Australia in 2018 and England in the same year and if you see the speed, India's bowlers were quicker than England bowlers. We had never dreamt of this."
India had defeated Australia 2-1 in the 2018-19 Test series, the first time an Asian team managed to do so. The Indian pace bowling quartet of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav were the star performers, accounting for 50 Australian wickets between them, apart from the exploits of Cheteshwar Pujara with the bat.
Published 30 Jul 2020, 12:44 IST