2018 has been the year of India’s pace resurgence with Jasprit Bumrah’s sensational efforts in the Melbourne Test against Australia perfectly summarising the massive improvement the team’s fast-bowling battery has made over the year.
Bumrah’s career-best 6-33 in the first innings not only wrecked hosts Australia’s batting card, but also completed a record year for India’s pace arsenal. The 136 wickets shared between Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma in 2018 made them arguably the most complete and potent pace attacks in the world.
For a country not famed for producing quality fast-bowlers, the 2018 display of the pace trio is an achievement to savour.
The sight of Bumrah beating Australia’s batsmen through sheer pace in Melbourne was one to behold. What is even more impressive about Bumrah’s display is the fact that he is still in his debut year when it comes to Test cricket.
Having forged his reputation as a limited-overs bowler, the Ahmedabad-born pacer was introduced to Test cricket in India’s tour of South Africa and has gone from strength to strength.
His displays in South Africa, England and now Australia have more than confirmed his Test credentials with the 25-year-old picking up a total of 48 wickets in just nine matches at an average of 21.
While Bumrah has brought the X-factor in the Indian pace armoury, he has been complemented perfectly by Shami and Ishant who have been highly consistent.
Shami has matched Bumrah’s tally (47) although he has player 12 matches while Ishant has picked up 41 wickets in 11 games.
For long India has hoped for a bowling attack capable of picking up 20 wickets consistently across all conditions, especially away from home. Bumrah, Shami and Ishant have done just that with their overseas displays this year and that too in some style.
In fact, it has been India’s batting which let the team down in the tours of South Africa and England with only Virat Kohli making a consistent impact, along with Cheteshwar Pujara. There can be no complaints about India’s pacers who have matched – and maybe even bettered – their South African, English and Australian counterparts in 2018.
In the three Tests against Australia so far, India’s pace attack has outperformed Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. Bumrah and Co have picked up 45 wickets while Australia’s fearsome trio have accounted for 37 scalps.
In the 11 Tests India has played outside the subcontinent in 2018, India’s bowlers have picked up 205 out of 220 wickets available to them. When taking into mind that India lost the Lord’s Test against England by an innings, they have effectively picked up 205 out of the 210 available wickets.
It would not be too far-fetched to say that India’s core strength in the Test squad now lies in its fast bowling (and Kohli of course) which is a far cry from the teams of the 1990s and early 2000s which were mostly dependent on batting.
It has been a strange reversal of trends but it is one that Indian fans will absolutely not mind.
While Bumrah, Shami and Ishant have done the bulk of the bowling, there are also Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav lying in the reserves which makes the overall strength of the pace battery even more impressive.
The pace attack has rightly been gaining the accolades from all corners with several former players and pundits terming it as the best that India have ever produced in its history. On the basis of their 2018 showing, it is hard to argue otherwise.
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