English conditions will best suit Mohammed Shami than any ot

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Old 24-Jun-2014
English conditions will best suit Mohammed Shami than any ot

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In 2011, even without Zaheer after the first Test, the bowling was in capable hands of new-ball bowlers Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Praveen Kumar, if not Ishant Sharma, although the home batsmen, as if on a roll, kept plundering runs because the entire Indian team itself had been woefully demoralised right through the series.

Fast bowling is a major concern for this team, whose attack is spearheaded by someone like Ishant Sharma, who will otherwise struggle to get into any national team other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The irony is inescapable that he has played 55 Tests, which shows how bare the country’s pace bowling cupboard is.

It is Mohammed Shami who should be our best bet in Test series as far as fast bowling is concerned. He has the pace, variations and a cool mind, which can both think and listen to others’ advice. Shami has not done badly in his six-Test career and the English conditions will best suit him than any other Indian medium-pacer.

This leaves us with Varun Aaron, Pankaj Singh and Ishwar Pandey. While Aaron has played one Test, Singh and Pandey are yet to figure in any. They might get an opportunity or two in the five Tests, but only excessively optimistic cricket enthusiasts will expect too much from them.

So much has already been said and written about the omission of Umesh Yadav. The fact is he is not picked, whatever the reasons, and it is pointless debating whether he would have been a better choice or not, or whether he would have used the English conditions to his advantage.

Orthodox left-arm spinner Jadeja and off-break bowler Ashwin are in the process of forging India’s lethal spin bowling pair. Some of the English batsmen, yet to recover from the shock defeat in the Ashes battle in Australia, may find the duo too hot to handle when bowling in tandem in helpful conditions, particularly after the first or second day, when the wickets tend to begin to wear a bit.

Just like at home, on this tour, too, India’s chances of bowling out England twice will rest much on Jadeja and Ashwin than on Ishant Sharma, Shami and company. And both Jadeja and Ashwin have it in them to run through this particular English batting line-up, which has no Kevin Pietersen, their best batsman against spinners until recently, to rescue it when in trouble. It will be imperative for India’s seamers to make early inroads into the seemingly strong English batting order for the spinners to torture them further. A daunting task, indeed, but certainly not difficult.

But will the young Indian batsmen persistently stand up to Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and other English fast bowlers on wickets and in conditions tailor-made for them? India’s success, or failure, in the exhaustive five-Test series is likely to revolve round this key question.

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