Time has changed; so is cricket in India. There was a time when the Asian giants looked to draw the Test matches against SENA countries but skipper Virat Kohli changed the brand of cricket in the nation with his fearless approach.
In the recently concluded series, India thrashed South Africa 3-0 to complete their first-ever Test whitewash over Proteas. Indian batsmen were on fire throughout the series but there is no way anyone can ignore the bowling efforts of Indian bowlers, especially pacers. In the three matches, Proteas were bowled out on six occasions and all the matches were over within four days with India emerging as victorious.
Team India was always an exceptional batting unit but in the bowling department, they lack quality pacers from the emergence of the game, except for some players like Zaheer Khan, Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad. But the tables have turned for India in recent times as they have one of the best bowling units in the world right now.
The Indian team has won 11 successive series at home and every captain need quality pacers who can win crucial games for him. Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh had Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz, while Imran Khan had Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and himself to dominate world cricket. Even Graeme Smith had some deadly pacers like Dale Steyn, Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini during his South Africa reign.
Similarly, Kohli has now the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav to prove his dominance all over the world. This Indian pace-pack can bowl any team out in any conditions. Every bowler in India's squad have their USP or speciality as Ishant is a bowler who can provide you early breakthroughs, Shami and Umesh are working horse with pace and swing with both new and old ball, while Bumrah can do it all and at any time.
In the spin-friendly track against South Africa, Indian pacers Umesh and Shami proved that they are not in the team to have a supporting role for Ashwin-Jadeja. They went for the kill and dismantle opposition line-up throughout the series. The duo of pacers scalped 10 wickets in Ranchi while the trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Nadeem were the second fiddle to them with 8 wickets.
Before South Africa series, there were some doubts over Indian pace attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah (who ruled out of the series due to stress fracture) but Umesh, Shami shut the doubters. The emergence of Umesh in the Proteas series proved that how everyone in the squad wants to contribute to success.
After the second Test against South Africa, Umesh made it clear that it will not be easy for youngsters to grab their spot in Test cricket.
"Most of the boys in this set-up, at least 7-8 have played 40 plus Tests. So, when the youngsters, who are coming up, see the kind of hard yards seniors are putting in, it's not easy for them. They know that they need to get better than us to be in the side," Umesh said.
Umesh has proved to be a workhorse for Kohli with his exceptional fitness, he is a kind of bowler who can easily bowl 20-25 overs in a day without a niggle. It’s time for team management to value his talent and try to make a plan for him to better his skill because Umesh with red-ball and white-ball is completely a different player. It’s time for selectors to take a decision on Umesh and make him a Test cricket specialist like Ishant Sharma.
Meanwhile, rating Shami’s skills with the ball will do injustice to his talent, the 29-year-old is a special talent. Earlier, Shami used to pick wickets with the old ball with a reverse swing but he has progressed well in the game with time and now even with the ball he is threatening opposition batsmen.
Ishant is the leader of the pack, he is a kind of bowler who will give you wicket when no will able to. With the new ball, he is an exceptional bowler, the way he pitched the ball with seam makes him more dangerous in swinging conditions.
It’s an understatement to say that if Bumrah played against Proteas then the nightmare series will become even worse for them. Bumrah is sheer talent, who can do extraordinary things, he can swing the ball both ways and with his toe-crushing yorkers, he can put pressure on any batting unit in the world.
It’s not just South Africa Tests but in the previous few series, Indian pacers have peaked and helped the team to some glorious win that includes the historic series win in Australia earlier this year. It’s quite shocking that a leading pacer like Bhuvneshwar Kumar is not even in contention to claim a place in the Test squad.