India has the best pool of pace bowlers

March 5th, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by admin  

By Avishek Roy
New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) The last five years have seen India produce pace bowlers with amazing regularity. And of late, each series has thrown up one or two newcomers, who have made their mark and have handled the new ball with quiet assurance. If the lanky Ishant Sharma was the find of the just-concluded series Down Under with his gutsy performance, it was Praveen Kumar who delivered the killer blow to the Aussies in the Commonwealth Bank Series finals.

The sheer strength of Indian pace attack can be gauged by the fact that despite the absence of Zaheer Khan and R P Singh from the ODI series, the others joined forces and rose to the occasion to stifle the opponents. Zaheer has been the spearhead of India’s attack for over two years since his dream comeback, but today the bench strength is such that he was not missed at all.

It may not be farfetched to say that India now has world’s best fast bowling attack, more importantly the pool has variety, youth and experience. They are ready to step in on a given day.

The competition is fierce and the rivalry healthy. Zaheer, R.P. Singh, Irfan Pathan, S Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Ishant, Praveen, and Pankaj Singh make for a great pool and with Pradeep Sangwan, Ajitesh Argal also around and vying for a place in the India team, it can’t get any better for India.

“It is the most successful attack in the last five years. The number of fast bowlers who have come up in these years is exciting. The bench strength is very good and more are waiting in the wings,” says T A Sekar, MRF Pace Foundation head coach.

“We always compared our pacers with Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Shoaib Akhtar. But we have produced bowlers who can swing the ball at a decent pace and that is more important,” says Sekar.

The latest duo Ishant and Praveen have emerged as the new poster boys of Indian pace battery in Australia. The way Praveen handled the new-ball taking three crucial wickets makes Sekar feel, that the Uttar Pradesh boy should open the attack more often.

“He has the knack of picking wickets. Nobody expected him to take those wickets. He is a good swing bowler and troubled the batsmen with the movement. He has handled the new ball very well and showed that he has good cricketing brains,” he said.

“He is basically skiddy and does not give the batsmen much time. Dhoni was right to point out that because a wicket-keeper knows best about the pace of a delivery,” he said.

Ishant has grown leaps and bounds in Australia, making somebody like Ricky Ponting bite the dust with his pace and bounce. The spell in the historic Perth Test in which he got rid of Ponting after beating him any number of times is, perhaps, one of the best performances by an Indian fast bowler for a long time.

“Ishant has certainly bowled fast. He has touched above 150ks. He will have to work on his body and add some muscle. That will give him the strength long spells because he is going to play more now. He has to be careful about his physical strength,” says Sekar.

A decade back playing without a Javagal Srinath or current bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad was inconceivable just as it was unthinkable of an India side without Kapil Dev who showed the world that the country famous for its tweakers could produce pacers. Then came a period when Balaji and Ashish Nehra held sway, but they could not force their way back into the side like Zaheer after recovering from injuries.

But now things have changed. Truly, pace bowling has come of age in India.

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