Fast and glorious: On India's resounding win


India winning at home is nothing new, but the manner in which it does so is

There was one telling statistical nugget from India’s resounding defeat of Bangladesh in Kolkata: it was the first ever home Test won by the side without spin bowlers having taken a wicket. The 2-0 series victory is the latest in a string of dominant Indian Test performances, all built on the strength of a remarkable fast-bowling attack. Since the start of the West Indies tour in August — a stretch of seven triumphant Tests — India’s pacers have delivered more than twice as many wickets as their spin-bowling colleagues, while averaging less than half as much. The flattening of South Africa and Bangladesh over the last seven weeks, led by the trio of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, will have brought cheer to a generation of Indian supporters unaccustomed to watching fast bowlers of their own tear through rival line-ups. “This is a dream combination for any captain,” Virat Kohli gushed, in Indore. Since January 2018, when Kohli’s men travelled to South Africa, India’s quicks — including the now-injured Jasprit Bumrah — have steadily outshone the spinners, accounting for over two-thirds of the team’s wickets. It is the strength, depth and variety of the pace attack that has enabled India to challenge — and also win — overseas in that period, the historic series victory in Australia the highlight.

How has this transformation, from a nation that seemed to produce gentle medium-pacers in the main, and the odd quicker bowler in isolation, to one boasting of a pace battery that is the world’s envy, occurred? Kohli and the team management, including bowling coach B. Arun, deserve credit. On his first full tour as captain, to Sri Lanka in 2015, Kohli remarked that he was “more pleased when the bowlers take 20 wickets than when guys get hundreds”. He has set about building a bowling attack capable of doing that in all conditions, realising that reliance on spin is not always going to work. The rise in fitness levels has also been a huge factor and India’s pacemen are now able to bowl fast well into their third and fourth spells — most evident in Shami’s case. The Bengal quick has always been a bowler of enormous skill, capable of moving the ball, in the air and off the pitch. Now consistently rapid, he is devastating. Umesh and Ishant have made significant technical improvements. Kohli handed Bumrah — a freakish talent — a surprise debut in South Africa; at the end of that series, nobody was questioning the wisdom of the move. On Sunday, India became the first team to win four consecutive Tests by an innings; the goal now, for Kohli, is to dominate away from home too.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 8:45:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/fast-and-glorious-on-indias-resounding-win/article30079473.ece

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