India have multiple injury concerns to deal within their pace department ahead of the five-match Test series against England but Ishant Sharma is confident that the side has the depth to cope with any situation.
Virat Kohli’s men were dealt a huge blow when seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar was ruled out for the first three Tests after he aggravated a lower back injury in the final ODI at Lord’s. That came after Jasprit Bumrah had fractured his thumb in the preceding T20 series against Ireland, with the Mumbai pacer facing a race against time to get fit for the Test series.
Despite these recent setbacks, Ishant believes India’s pace department will be one of India’s key strengths in the series against England.
“Everybody used to say that India can’t produce fast bowlers. Now we have probably eight to nine good fast bowlers, anytime who can play Test cricket for India. We have a pretty good chance to win a series in England and Australia, because of the kind of attack we have,” the pacer told the Daily Telegraph in an interview.
The Delhi-born bowler enjoyed a successful maiden county stint with Sussex this year and is enjoying bowling in English conditions. Ishant’s spell of 7-74 in the second innings at Lord’s had helped India win its only Test in their tour of 2014.
“The weather is so nice (in England), you can bowl long spells, the conditions are helpful. The ball is nice, the wicket is favourable. There’s a lot of difference between bowling in England and India,” the pacer stated.
The first match between England and India gets underway on August 1 at Edgbaston in Birmingham. With Bhuvneshwar ruled out and Bumrah looking unlikely to recover in time for the first Test, India could line up with a pace attack comprising of Ishant, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.
The Proteas faced an uphill task on the fourth day as they resumed their chase of a mammoth 490 in the second innings with just five wickets in hand.
Temba Bavuma and De Bruyn frustrated the hosts in the first session on Monday as they stitched together a 123-run stand for the sixth wicket. That stubborn stand was ended by Sri Lanka’s veteran spinner Rangana Herath at the stroke of lunch when he had Bavuma caught behind by Niroshan Dickwella after the South African had scored 63 runs.
The visitors would be dealt another big blow before lunch could be taken when Quinton de Kock was adjudged lbw to Herath.
With just three wickets in hand in the second session, South Africa’s tail wagged enough to allow de Bruyn to register his maiden Test century before the batsman became Herath’s fifth victim of the innings.
From there on, the end was near for Faf du Plessis’ men as Herath went on to complete a six-wicket haul to bring up another fine victory for the Sri Lankans.
This is Sri Lanka’s first Test win over the South Africans since 2006. Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne was awarded the man of the match as well as the series for his two half-centuries in Colombo as well as a ton and fifty in the first Test at Galle.
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 338 all out
South Africa 1st innings: 124 all out
Sri Lanka 2nd innings: 275/5 declared
South Africa 2nd innings: 290 all out
Theunis de Bruyn: 101
Rangana Herath: 6-98
The young left-arm wrist-spinner picked up a five-wicket haul in the first T20I at Manchester before following it up with a six-wicket burst in the ODI opener at Nottingham. His limited-overs displays have seen India name a three-man spin contingent in their Test squad with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja also forming a part of the 18-man effort.
The transition to red-ball cricket, however, will not be easy for Kuldeep according to former England skipper Alec Stewart.
“All of a sudden, he won’t have four men at the boundary. He will have four men around the bat, and the batsmen don’t have to try and score with a positive intent. Can he bowl enough good balls and ask questions of the batsmen as he had done in white-ball cricket?” Stewart was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
“In ODIs and T20Is, you can get away with bad balls with batsmen getting caught off full tosses or sweep slogging caught at deep midwicket. Would Kuldeep have those fields in a Test? Would batsmen play those types of shots? No, instead, it will be a game of cat and mouse and it remains to be seen if Kuldeep can make those adjustments for Test cricket in England,” the former wicketkeeper-batsman added.
Kuldeep’s impact waned down considerably as the limited-overs clashes progressed and Stewart believes that England have started getting a handle on the wrist-spinner’s mystery.
“A mystery spinner creates doubts if you haven’t faced much of him, and it makes for great cricket when the batsmen are trying to figure out from 18-22 yards, which way it will go. But England, especially Joe Root, started to work out Kuldeep since Lord’s and the question is how Kuldeep is going to bowl in Test cricket,” Stewart remarked.
Despite his reservations, Stewart believes India skipper Virat Kohli will be tempted to go with Kuldeep over Ashwin and Jadeja in the Tests.
“Virat, as a captain, is very positive and will back an attacking bowler. He will possibly believe that Kuldeep has more to offer than Ashwin or Jadeja, and then that’s the route Virat will take. And then the wrist spinner has to perform, and replicate with the red ball what he has done with the white ball. We won’t know until he (Kuldeep) is given a go,” he said.