Team India, led by Virat Kohli, is currently in England for a three-month long tour, comprising of the ongoing World Test Championship final against New Zealand, followed by a five-Test against the host nation. Due to the current COVID-19 situation across the globe, Team India have selected an extended 24-man squad, comprising of several bowling options.
Team India last toured England in 2018 when the hosts beat them by a 4-1 margin in the five-Test series. Although the Asian giants performed well in patches, the Englishmen were too good for Virat and co. Three years on, India have again reached the English shores with confidence as high as ever. What has changed in the last three years? Virat Kohli’s aggressive approach towards the game has resulted in Team India discovering one of the best bowling line-ups in the country’s history with a rich bank of genuine pacers.
On that note, let's analyze Team India's bowling unit for the England tour.
#1 Ishant Sharma:
Ishant Sharma, the most experienced pacer in the squad, recently became the second fast bowler from India to play 100 Tests. In the last few years, he has become a lethal bowler who can swing the ball both ways with speed and accuracy. Ishant was the highest wicket-taker during the 2018 tour of England, picking up 18 wickets. His experience will surely help India in the WTC final and the subsequent Test series against England.
#2 Jasprit Bumrah:
When Jasprit Bumrah began his career, he was labeled a T20 bowler who couldn't succeed in Tests. But he has proved his critics wrong and how! Highly regarded as one of the best pacers in world cricket at the moment, he has been successful wherever he has played. His discipline and passion towards the game, with the ability to learn from his mistakes, makes him stand out. The overcast English conditions will also suit his style, with Bumrah picking up 14 wickets in three Tests during the 2018 England tour.
#3 Mohammed Shami:
Mohammed Shami has been Team India's most improved fast bowler across all formats over the last four years. With an intense run-up, he swings both ways with his upright seam and wrist position. He's also capable of reverse swinging the old ball. With 16 wickets to his name in the 2018 England tour, Shami will be confident about hitting the ground running on English shores this time around as well.
#4 Mohammed Siraj:
Mohammed Siraj's meteoric rise up the ranks in Indian cricket has been nothing short of a dream. Picked as a backup bowler for India during their 2020-21 tour of Australia, the pacer was in fine form Down Under. Siraj made his India debut in the longest format in the Boxing Day Test after Shami was ruled out through injury. In the fourth and final Test of the same series, he picked up his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket. The last six months have seen Siraj grow into a different bowler altogether, with the pacer's temperament worth mentioning. If given a chance, Siraj is expected to fare well in swing-friendly English conditions.
#5 Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja:
The spin duo are the biggest reason behind Team India's dominance at home in the longest format. However, the last time India toured England in 2018, Moeen Ali overshadowed the two Indian spinners. But the scenario is expected to be different this time around. In addition to bowling, the pair also considerably bolsters India's batting unit. Ashwin will be India's key bowler against the left-handers and it would be interesting to see if Kohli goes in with the two spinners for the entire England tour.
Team India also have quality pacers in Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav, as well as spin all-rounders Axar Patel and Washington Sundar. India have never been blessed with such a rich bank of quality bowlers who are at par or even better in many aspects to their English counterparts.