Times are changing for Indian cricket. While the spinners dominated largely over decades on home turf, the present crop of Indian fast bowlers are slowly changing the statistics with was noticed during the recent series against South Africa and Bangladesh. Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav bagged 59 wicket between themselves in India's last five home Test as against the spinners who managed only 38. And Umesh, on Wednesday, revealed the mindset behind the pacers' rise in dominance in home turf.
"People earlier talked about spinners when we played at home. They assumed the pitch would start taking turn early. Fast bowlers usually bowled with the new ball and were brought back when there was reverse swing on offer. Our job was to roughen up the ball for the spinners. Spinners even started with the new ball. It is satisfying to know that now we are looked at as bowlers who could bowl all day. When this crop of fast bowlers came together, all five of us decided we are not here to just rough up the ball for spinners. We started thinking wickets. This ensured we got the new ball," Umesh said in an interview with Times of India.
Such has been their dominance that in the Kolkata Test against Bangladesh last week, the spinners went wicketless for the first time at home. The troika took 19 wickets with the other batsman (Mahmudullah) being retired hurt. The result helped India finish 2019 as their best calendar-year performance for pacers - 95 wickets at record 15.16 an average and record 31 strike rate. Their performance in 2019 leaves the current crop above the famed Windies attack of 1970s and 1980s.
Talking about pitches in India coming in aid of the pacers, Umesh said "It’s important to have good pitches for good contests. When there’s even a bit of a contest between bowlers and batsmen, then the quality of cricket improves and people love that. You need challenging conditions. There needs to be fair carry in the pitches. Fast bowlers need to be in the game. There is a change in mindset because people now value the importance of fast bowlers."
Umesh picked 23 wickets in the four Tests he played in 2019 which took his tally to 34 wickets in his last six Test matches in India.
"People think that there are a lot of different things happening with my bowling. It depends on the number of matches I play. I don’t get many matches. I have played most of my cricket at home in the last two years. When you keep playing matches, you have a rhythm. Bowling on those 22 yards helps you to learn more and grow – it helps you to sustain the rhythm. You start reading the game better when you are playing regularly," he added.