Indian cricket has a long history of batting culture. The country has produced some of the most renowned batsmen in world cricket. Growing up in the early 2000s, players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman were looked up to as role models – all of them, batsmen.
And so, if the batsmen were 'Batman', spinners were the 'Robin'. The spinners always held an upper edge among the bowlers in the country. The pitches at home were almost always rank-turners, and the Indian spinners have long tormented the opposition batting line-up. Justifiably, India never had a cushion of world-class fast bowlers.
It is due to this reason that the emergence of a pace-trio – Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah is a big thing – pathbreaking, actually, in Indian cricket. Never had an Indian pace attack dominated countries in their own backyard in such a manner as these three. The trio had been setting up India's wins on tricky overseas tours, and have emerged as one of the most lethal pace lineups in the world.
The arrival of Jasprit Bumrah in 2018 was significantly the turning point in India's bowling fortunes. The youngster, who had made his reputation in the limited-overs cricket by then, made a seamless transition to red-ball cricket in his first Test tour to South Africa. It seemed he was the only missing piece in the jigsaw which solved the Indian pace puzzle. In Bumrah, India had found an impact bowler who could set the platform for India's wins abroad, which made it easier for senior players like Ishant and Shami to focus on their strengths.
The numbers reiterate their contribution in India's incredible success in the last two years. No other team boasts of two bowlers with fifty or more wickets in the last two years. The fact that India had three is but a glimpse of how lethal the Indian bowling attack has been.
Jasprit Bumrah made his Test debut with the tour to South Africa. The Indian speedster was ranked 85th after his first appearance in the white-ball cricket. In merely 12 Test matches, which saw Bumrah take 62 wickets, the 25-year-old has climbed up to 3rd spot in the rankings. During this time, he also became the only third Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in Test matches.
Indian captain Virat Kohli puts faith in his impact bowler, and after the series win against West Indies, called him the most ‘complete bowler' in the world. “He confuses with his angles, swing and pace. I think he is the most complete bowler in world cricket right now. It's really pleasing to see a guy who was tagged a T20 specialist, he came and took over the ODI scene and now Test cricket. He is proving people wrong that there is a set template for every format,” Kohli said.
Ishant Sharma had showcased moments of brilliance throughout his Test career, but he couldn't sustain his performances for longer periods of time. This changed thoroughly in the last two years, as he established himself as one of the seniors in the Test side for the country. Contrary to the career average of 33.41, Ishant took 52 wickets in 13 matches for India in the last two years at an average of 19.78.
Same goes with Mohammed Shami, who took six more wickets at a slightly higher average (25.68). Together, the Indian pace trio has scalped 172 wickets in 17 Test matches, which is the highest among the leading pace attacks in the world.
Here's a statistical comparison of the performances by the top pace-trios in Test cricket around the world since January 1 last year.
|South Africa (Rabada/Philander/Olivier)||30||143|
|South Africa (Rabada/Philander/Steyn)||33||132|
Australia's trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood is close to India's, with lesser number of matches played. They also look set to go above the Indian pace battery in the upcoming 4th Test against England in the ongoing Ashes series.
More importantly, however, it is a testament to the consistency shown by the Bumrah, Shami and Ishant – both, in terms of wicket-taking abilities and fitness, that they are currently the most successful pace battery in the world.
Jasprit Bumrah credits their success to the understanding and camaraderie between them. “We have done a lot of hard work. Last year, we played a lot of away matches. Lot of camaraderie is there, we back each other. Even if things are going well, we discuss how to get better. We have a good relationship, all of us. We want to get better every year,” Bumrah said after India's series win against West Indies.
India's next task will be the home series against South Africa – which will be the side's first Test series in India with the three pacers. Indian pitches seldom assist pacers, and it will be interesting to see how the trio, which has achieved tremendous success overseas, fares in its own backyard.