The rarest of sights unfolded in Saturday’s morning session in the first Test between India and Bangladesh in Indore.
Not once did India skipper Virat Kohli turn towards his spinners in an entire session on a Day Three pitch in the subcontinent, where spin has been king since time immemorial.
Kohli’s unusual decision wasn’t down to a lack of choices. with India containing the top-two-ranked spinners in the world currently in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
It was more to do with the potency of his pace trio comprising of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, who had the Bangladesh top-order rattled for the second time in the Test.
The visitors were all at sea against India’s rising pace prowess as the fast-bowling battery made the batsmen dance to their tune in Indore. Four Bangladesh wickets fell to the pacers in the first session and three more were added later in the day as India wrapped up a mammoth win by an innings and 130 runs.
It was an encore of Bangladesh’s first innings display, where, once again, it had been India’s fast bowlers who had been the chief protagonists of their destruction. Then too, the Indian pace trio had picked up seven of the 10 Bangladesh wickets to fall with the spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja being consigned to a supporting role instead.
India's seam bowlers induced 27.9% false shots in this match. Since 2006 in Tests, only on two other occasions have induced false shots more often in a match.— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) November 16, 2019
Seven out of the top 10 instances here have come since 2018. This ruthless attack is getting better & better. #INDvBAN pic.twitter.com/BvC3G9Vzpa
India’s pace dominance at home against the Tigers didn’t exactly come as a surprise, with the same trio coming to the fore in the recent 3-0 clean sweep over the South Africans. In that whitewash, the home team’s pace battery had claimed a total of 26 wickets between them as they completely outclassed their much heralded Proteas counterparts. In comparison, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Anrich Nortje were only able to account for 10 Indian wickets in total in the series.
Against Bangladesh, Jadeja went wicket-less while Ashwin picked up five wickets over the course of the two innings in Indore. The pitch wasn’t exactly a green-top paradise for pacers either, which makes India’s fast bowlers’ feat of claiming 14 wickets in the match all the more impressive.
This is a pace attack still missing the injured Jasprit Bumrah who is yet to play a single Test on home soil so far.
It just goes on to show the depth in India’s abundant pace reserves currently with the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Navdeep Saini and Khaleel Ahmed waiting on the fringes for their chance.
It has been a complete reversal of roles for India’s pace and spin attacks with the former increasingly becoming Kohli’s go-to weapon of choice against visiting teams. It is hard to remember a time when watching pacers in action in the subcontinent brought so much excitement to both supporters and pundits alike.
I never thought I would see a test match played in India where, in the second innings, you wouldn't see a spinner get a single over in a session.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) November 16, 2019
Menacing lines, late movement and surprise bouncers were the theme in Indore, as Bangladesh’s batsmen wilted away under the beating sun. Audible ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ were common at Holkar International Stadium whenever an Indian pacer made life uncomfortable for the batsmen.
For the Tigers, the worst could be yet to come with the second Test at the Eden Gardens set to be a day-night affair. It will be the first time that both India and Bangladesh will play a Test with pink balls, and if the evidence of previous day-night clashes around the globe is taken into account, then seamers can expect plenty of joy under the lights.
It is not just visiting teams who need to be wary of India’s burgeoning pace power now, but also sides like England, Australia and South Africa who have traditionally banked on their fast-bowling advantage. They will think twice before preparing a pitch to suit their pacers, given the fact that India can easily turn the tables using the same yardstick.
All eyes now, will be on India’s tour of New Zealand in February, next year with the Kiwis known to prepare green tops to bamboozle visiting teams. They might just be reconsidering doing that against Kohli’s men as Shami and co. continue to rattle batsmen irrespective of conditions.
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