Aakash Chopra
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Former India opener; author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season

Who after Zaheer?

Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma are the likeliest candidates, but there are a few others who can be contenders, provided they are nurtured carefully

Aakash Chopra

July 19, 2012

Comments: 64 | Text size: A | A

Umesh Yadav bowls on the opening day of India's tour, Cricket Australia Chairman's XI v Indians, Canberra, 1st day, December 15, 2011
Umesh Yadav: showed marked improvement in the span of a year, and hasn't compromised on his pace © Getty Images

How have India been so dominating at home for such a long time? It's because their spinners have always had the upper hand over batsmen who are not so proficient against quality spin bowling on low, slow and turning surfaces, while India's batsmen counter the opposition's spin bowling with ease. And since conditions in India make fast bowlers ineffective, the hosts hold the aces while playing teams from outside the subcontinent. But this hypothesis is no longer all true.

Since Anil Kumble's retirement from Test cricket, at home, the pace bowling attack, led by Zaheer Khan, has taken 105 wickets at 33 runs apiece, with a wicket every ten overs, while spinners took 158 at 35.5, with a wicket every 13 overs. In overseas Test matches in the same period, fast bowlers took 201 wickets, while spinners took 108.

India's climb to the top of the Test rankings wasn't thanks to dishing out dustbowls, for their best chances of winning, even in India, are on decent batting surfaces. Zaheer played a pivotal role in shaping India's ascent in both ODIs and Tests, and one of the key reasons why India's tours of England and Australia over the last year were so abysmal was their less-than-potent seam bowling attack.

Zaheer's injury in the 2011 Lord's Test and his subsequent absence sucked the life out of India's bowling. Even his presence in Australia made little difference because the other quicks were not up to the mark. To be fair to him, Zaheer's body has started showing the toll of 12 years of international cricket. In recent times he has been able to make the initial breakthrough with the new ball, but once the ball has got old, he has looked to bide his time till the second new ball becomes available. While the strategy worked for him - he was India's best and most consistent bowler - it didn't help the team, because the opposition always batted for a day and a half.

If India need to plan for the future, they must start preparing for life beyond Zaheer. His absence, like it did in England, should not mean the end of India's chances. Here are five bowlers likely to take the baton from him in Test cricket.

Umesh Yadav
In 2010, when I played with and against Umesh, he generated a lot of pace but bowled only two lengths: too full or too short. So, despite the pace, others got more wickets. While his deliveries carried nicely to the keeper and looked impressive from the outside, Umesh didn't get the length right to either induce an edge or get lbw or bowled dismissals.

Come 2011, he was a different bowler. He not only consistently pitched the ball in the good-length area, drawing the batsman forward, he also swung the ball away from the right-handers. He used the bouncer sparingly but effectively. He was ready for Test cricket. It came as no surprise when he troubled some of the best batsmen in Australia with his pace. Umesh is the most likely candidate to spearhead India's fast-bowling department. His desire to keep improving, refusal to sacrifice pace for control, and sensible attitude will hold him in good stead.

Ishant Sharma
What struck me about Ishant when I first saw him play for Delhi was the bounce he generated off the surface and the wrist position that gave him accuracy. He could happily bowl to a 7-2 off-side field and never drift to leg. That aspect stood out on his first tour, to Australia in 2007-08, where he became Ricky Ponting's nemesis.

While his basics - action, the head and wrist position, and run-up - were already in place when he first played for India, he needed to constantly evolve to enjoy the same success over the next few years. He needed to find ways to take wickets, for bounce and carry don't fetch you wickets unless used effectively.

You might be surprised to know that among Indian fast bowlers, the 23-year-old Ishant is already fourth, behind Kapil Dev, Zaheer and Javagal Srinath, in terms of number of Tests played. He can no longer be regarded just as a bowler with a lot of potential, as Sanjay Manjrekar says here; it's time for him to assume the responsibility of leading the bowling attack in Test matches and translate that potential into five-wicket hauls more often. For that he needs to start pitching the ball a lot fuller, with his wrist right behind the ball, because it will give him the best chance of getting movement off the surface and finding outside edges more often.

India's bowling coaches over the last few years must also take responsibility for Ishant's lack of growth. He is still young and loves to bowl, so if he is mentored well, Ishant can turn it around for himself and for India.

Varun Aaron
Along with Umesh, India have unearthed another fast bowler who can hit the mid-140kph mark consistently. I first saw this bowler from Jharkhand in a Ranji match on a docile pitch. While he didn't take a bagful of wickets (blame the pitch), his pace and rhythm caught one's eye. I had heard a lot about his bowling and he didn't disappoint.

I had also heard about his history of recurring injuries. To see an Indian bowl fast is a delight, and I prayed he would remain fit for long. Miraculously, he managed for one full season and was rewarded with an India Test cap soon after. That's where the honeymoon ended, for he has been sidelined with an injury after a very brief stint at the top. For Aaron to be a real Test contender, he needs to find ways to remain fit. He will also have to make the ball move in the air and off the surface, for he will soon realise that pace alone is an overrated virtue.

Parvinder Awana
Awana has had a few good domestic seasons - 113 wickets at 29 - but more than the stats, it's the way he bowls that impresses me. He has a strong action, good wrist position, and hits the deck hard to extract lateral movement off the surface.

Thanks to the SG Test ball used in domestic cricket, there are quite a few swing bowlers in India, but not many who rely more on seam movement than swing in the air. Those are the ones most likely to succeed with the Kookaburra ball on hard, bouncy pitches outside the subcontinent, because once the shine fades, the Kookaburra doesn't move much in the air.

Awana isn't the finished product yet but the BCCI and India's chief bowling coach should step in and nurture his talent.

Varun Aaron leaps into his delivery stride, Australian Institute of Sport v India Emerging Players, Emerging Players tournament, 3rd day, Townsville, August 13, 2011
Varun Aaron: fast but injury-prone © Getty Images

Ashok Dinda
Dinda briefly flirted with the highest level before falling away. He seemed to lose his sense of purpose after a couple of good seasons in the IPL, but thankfully he's back on track. Dinda is not express but is sharp enough to make his presence felt. More importantly, he is fit and has the stamina to bowl long spells - he bowled a 17-over spell in the Duleep Trophy final last year. He may not have done exceptionally well for India A in the West Indies, but his performances in the previous first-class season should keep him in the loop.

Shami Ahmed was one of the few bright sparks from that A tour, but since he has only played nine first-class matches, I'd like to wait before forming an opinion about him. In any case, he must not be treated the way Jaydev Unadkat was - promoted to play for India after just one good A tour. The premature exposure seemed to have done more harm than good for young Unadkat.

Then there are Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel. While Praveen was magnificent in England (the last Test series he played), after his elbow injury he has been a pale shadow of his former self. Munaf doesn't seem keen to be a part of the longer format anymore.

As for Vinay Kumar, his unimpressive Test debut in the fast bowlers' haven of Perth must have pushed him to the back of the queue.

How I wish that I could include Sreesanth in this list, for when he's at the top of his game he's one of the most capable wicket-taking bowlers around. Unfortunately, his career has been marred by injuries and antics.

Unlike with their spin bowling resources, India have quite a few promising fast bowlers on the domestic circuit, but these are my top picks. India have the fast-bowling resources to prosper after Zaheer, provided they nurture the available talent. It's important for India's bowling coach and the National Cricket Academy to identify talented fast bowlers and put them through structured programmes throughout the year, so that when the need arises they are in top shape and form.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by   on (July 22, 2012, 19:01 GMT)

Ishant Sharma has been around for so long and definitely he is not the leader for the pack... Sreesanth is a history.. who knows when would he be back in team? seems our captain cool has ruined few bowlers like RP singh, Praveen kumar Ishant etc with his defensive and unyielding tactics. One undeniable fact that we should agree upon is that we are not looking at bowlers to win matches. We are so addicted to power game that we always want high scoring and bowler trashing games to happen and pitches ae being made like wise.... so to talk about next leader for pace attack, lets first think about right game plan for pace attack!

Posted by Empty-Sequence on (July 22, 2012, 7:28 GMT)

KiwiRocker Did u just mentioned Younis Khan?? Guys like him are found in every streets of Mumbai.

Posted by indianpunter on (July 22, 2012, 3:48 GMT)

Ishant Sharma- much heat, but little light. Indian fast bowling stocks are threadbare and i cannot see India winning a test in overseas in the foreseeable future. But then, who is bothered? The inconvenient truth has been shelved away. All hail the IPL. btw, It is incredulous that after pitiful tours of Eng and Aus, VVS still entertains thoughts of playing the home series this yr, at the ripe old age of 39!!

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (July 21, 2012, 2:34 GMT)

ANil Kumble was the fastest Indian bowler although Shahid Afridi's quicker one is also faster than all the bowlers mentioned in thsi article. DaGameChanger- Your comment made no sense. Virat Kohli has played couple of find knocks and you are over hyping the poor chap. Same thing was done to Yousaf Pathan before WC and he now has disappred. Let Kohli play around the world and then start ranking him with likes of Amla, Younis Khan, Sangakara, Kallis, Ponting..Right now, he is just another flat track bulley like Sehwag as Kohli was sitting duck in England!

Posted by   on (July 21, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

@Abdul.. Agreed when Waqar and Akram used to bowl, you had the best bowling lineup. But now? I do not think the current crop is any where close. Maybe it is the lack of exposure to test cricket. I do not see anything special in Cheema, Riaz or any other that have co e up. Pakistan is relying more on the hand bending tricks of ajmal to take wickets than their reverse swinging fast bowlers.

Posted by maddy20 on (July 20, 2012, 22:57 GMT)

@KiwiRocker Carting Steyn on Flat , docile lifless pitches where there is no hope for bowlers and batsmen bat for around 1 1/2 days each innings? Try touring SA. I would bet that Pak would not cross 250 in any innings as it happened to them in England. IF I recall correctly, 4 scores of under 100 in 3 tests!

Posted by MattyP1979 on (July 20, 2012, 19:04 GMT)

Strange article. WHo after Zaheer? India have some real talent in their side, the problem is the most talented are so old it is both a credit to their desire to keep playing but a worrying situation about replacements. As a nuetral, if i had to pick Ind 5 best players it would be their oldest 5. After Zaheer....what about after the rest, he is the youngest of my 5?

Posted by   on (July 20, 2012, 17:40 GMT)

I think the next fast bowlers who can take over after Zaheer's retirement are Ashok Dinda and Varun Aaron. It's sad that Varun Aaron is prone to injuries but otherwise, he is an excellent bowler. Ashok Dinda is another bowler who always reminds me of Zaheer. Ishant Sharma has been given far too many chances to prove himself, same for Praveen Kumar. Parvinder Awana has only been impressive in IPL 5 so he might need a little more experience. Same goes for Shami Ahmed, who did impress everyone in the A tour but he still lacks experience.

Posted by DaGameChanger on (July 20, 2012, 16:34 GMT)

@KiwiRocker..Stop living in Past..We all know how good Pakistan bowlers are right now..Even Virat Kohli our newest kid..toyed around Pak bowlers in Asia Cup like NFL player visiting high school football game. BTW, Football to be as an American..

Posted by anuradha_d on (July 20, 2012, 14:36 GMT)

Ishant??....you mean Ishant Sharma ??...the guy who has picked wkts @ 2.9 / test over 45 tests at an average of 38........he has Nothing left to prove.......he failed in places like Aus and Eng...... is just not an international quality strike bowler.....unless you want to blame Dhoni's dead defensive /restrictive captaincy for killing another strike bowllers he inherited ( Bhajji, Sreesanth, RPS the other 3)

India's gotta move on...beyond Ishant to give opportunities to Shami Ahmed....who has picked wicket ALL THE TIME.......Awana, Dinda, Bhuvan Kumar, Aaron.

And Sreesanth's antics ??.....what do you call antics......he shows passion and hasn't gotten an undertsanding captain to exploit his immense potential

Posted by MAK123 on (July 20, 2012, 14:22 GMT)

What a great shame that an average bowler like Zaheer Khan and his successors are being discussed. A great country like India should have been talking about producing at least three or four Bret Lees, Dale Steyns or even Jimmy Andersons. I really feel for the Indian public who have no choice but to back a battery of extremely mediocre bowlers. Again, I would rate Praveen Kumar 10 notches above Zaheer for his variety and big heart!

Posted by Nampally on (July 20, 2012, 13:05 GMT)

@raws: Excellent suggestion! I had forgotten him too after my initial support for him. In fact he will be an ideal replacement for ZAK. I watched him in the IPL game & was tremendously impressed with his pace, swing, control & direction. I was surprised to learn that he got that chance only because of injuries to the regular bowler. He should also have been on the India A team that was sent to WI recently. It is amazing how very talented guys get neglected when they have no God Fathers!.

Posted by Nampally on (July 20, 2012, 12:56 GMT)

Aakash, You have named all the right guys in the Indian pool of Fast bowlers. However BCCI must establish (a) Physical conditioning camp for the Cricketers - especially the fast bowlers & (b) coaching/ training camp for the bowlers.There are guys like Yadev who never had any formal cricket background coming from a village struggling to make a living.He has improved in his length & direction with experiece & guidance since his first appearance. Shami Ahmad, Aaron are both young & need to build their bodies to peak fitness to avoid injuries. The same goes for Sreesanth & Kumar plagued with injuries.Fitness should be the top priority otherwise there will be no fast bowlers available.ZAK should be phased out as Ishant & Yadev take over.Train Tyagi to take over LH seaming from ZAK. What ever happened to Abu Nechim after initial promise? I personally feel that Ishant, Yadev & Aaron should form the Indian pace attack & must be put under year round supervisedconditioning program to remain FIT.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2012, 11:51 GMT)

None of these bowlers impresses me or may be our standard of Fast Bowling is very high here in Pakistan. But wrist position, smooth run up and control of Praveen Kumar impresses me a lot.

Posted by LillianThomson on (July 20, 2012, 9:59 GMT)

@SJagernath, I think India will do even worse at home. England came close to winning the second and third Tests in UAE v Pakistan against far superior slow bowling, and then squared the series in Sri Lanka. They are clearly improving fast on slow, low wickets, and I can't see how this Indian attack can hope to bowl them out in India for less than 700. Now would be a great time for the Indian selectors to have a huge clearout, like the Aussies did in 1986. The likes of Sehwag, Tendulkar, Laxman and Zaheer have become serial Test losers now that they are past their best, and need to be discarded.

Posted by Naresh28 on (July 20, 2012, 8:24 GMT)

Aakash you touched on Sreesanth. I think this guy could have been another Nehra type bowler. How I wish someone could coach him back. Many fear him when he is at his top bowling.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (July 20, 2012, 6:44 GMT)

@LillianThompson...Do you realise India had four full tours in the space of a year & 3 of them were to S.A,England & Australia.Its time for India to play some cricket at home now,which means things will favour India a bit.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (July 20, 2012, 6:40 GMT)

Ishant Sharma is a shock inclusion,I highly doubt Sharma will ever evolve into a world class seamer.Umesh Yadav & Varun Aaron are both quick & also quite expensive but atleast they are wickettakers.Dhawal Kulkarni looks impressive & has the first-class stats to back him up.Parvinder Awana looks strong & could be very effective if he finds a consistent length.India need to be thankful for having Zaheer Khan,who might not have an elite test average but has been a high class seamer since his international return.

Posted by buntyj on (July 20, 2012, 5:54 GMT)

excellent article- in rsa next year a good pace attack would include zak, yadav, dinda,awana, shami (his batting is a plus ahead of others as a possible bowling allrounder); it would be great if praveen kumar rediscovers fitness, rythm n form. real prob is after zak since he may otherwise not be irreplacable (tho not another truly promising left hand pacer in sight) save in the one aspect in which his bowling record has been superior to all other indians (including the great spinners), ie, his effectiveness vs left hand bats; i had high hopes of aaron but his fitness probs so far now discourage me from seeing him as a serious prospect while i dont really share the the view that ishant will succeed abroad (uneven bounce especially late in match may give him a few wickets in india due to his height) as he appears unable to change his lengths and i dont know if easy ipl money incentivises sreesanth, irfan n ishant to improve as required for tests;

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (July 20, 2012, 5:53 GMT)

ali_78694 - I stand by my comments. Actually Zaheer Khan is an average bowler. He has 288 odd wickets in 85 odd test matches at an average of 32 runs per wicket. If you are talking about flat wickets then Zaheer is not Waqar Younis or Waism Akram..Have you seen Waqar Younis's record? He had 375 wickets in 85 odd test matches at an acerage of 23. Now that is called a real bowler. Zaheer Khan has done well lately but he is only made to shine because rest of Indian fast bowlers are useless. Dale Steyn on flat wickets? Yes, he would do well against over hyped batting line ups such as India but recently Pakistani batsmen took Steyn to cleaners in UAE. Only pace on flat wickets does not win you wickets unless you are playing against Indian batsmen who have problem with raw pace since they hardly play against express pace fast bowlers. I know Brett Lee and SHane Bond were far more successful against India than any other team! India's fastest bowler was Muhammad Nisar in 1930's..

Posted by raws on (July 20, 2012, 4:35 GMT)

I think, Dhawal Kulkarni should also be included in the list. I dont know why his name has come down in the pecking order. The way he bowled in the IPL play-offs, was absolutely fabulous, he bowled the out swinger close to the wicket at a pace nearing 140Kmph, had his captain kept faith in him and countinued bowling him, Mumbai Indians, might have played the finals. He was part of a team that visited New Zealand a few years ago but did'nt get a game to prove his worth. His domestic record is also pretty good 135 wkts at 28, also he can be handy lower bat.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2012, 4:33 GMT)

And its important that V Prasad is kept away from them, otherwise they will start bowling cuters!

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (July 20, 2012, 3:51 GMT)

@hhillbumper & Aryian007, even without a genuine 'quicke' for so long we still mixed it with the best in the world-and did'nt do too badly. Just b-coz it has'nt happened does'nt mean it a'int gonna happen...It will...and when it does....watch out....!!!!

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (July 20, 2012, 3:46 GMT)

@meety, spot on & thankx for commenting so well on an india-centric post. Ishant's going nowhere with his short of length/generally short bowling. I think he has still not sorted out in his mind what sort of bowler he needs to be, either quick or bounce with swing& aim for dismissals at slip/behind the wicket, he has to stick to his strengths which is similar to Mcgrath. Yadav is probably the 1st out&out quickie we've had in a long time, I like the guy'sattitude&demeanour-I guess the way for Yadav to go, is via the county circuit, bowl heaps to get fitter. As for curators to leave bit more grass on the wickets-wishful thinking M8-u might as well as ask for the moon. As for the rest, Varun needs to be injury free-has potential, needs guidance, Sreesanth-ditto. Zaheer-seriously over rated-does not have much2offer after his first half a dozen overs. Irfan/Munaf/RP are just glorified off spinners. The cupboard is bare,door shut tight with slightest glimmer of light under it!!!

Posted by basophil on (July 20, 2012, 3:03 GMT)

if in the next few years yadav can hone and sharpen his skill without compromising pace, then in his peak years he could be like steyn! it's good to see other 140k bowlers like awana, shami ahmed, dinda, and aaron! i really hope they all get a chance in the A tour to new zealand and at least two of them are allowed to play in the home test series at least against new zealand. we need to build a good pace attack not just for the future foreign tours, but also for the soon-to-come england and australia home series!

Posted by LillianThomson on (July 20, 2012, 2:54 GMT)

I can't see any Indian fast bowlers who could help them to break into the Top Four Test teams: England, Pakistan, Australia and South Africa simply have much better quick bowlers. The only one who could do a job at Test level is Irfan Pathan as a medium-paced all-rounder, but they don't seem to want him. Unfortunately India's descent from number 1 to number 5 in the space of twelve months is just going to continue even further downwards, because they lack the bowlers to dismiss a decent team.

Posted by vik56in on (July 20, 2012, 2:39 GMT)

(Yadav,Varun,Ishant-(140-150)) ,(Sudeep Tyagi,Sreesanth,Awana-(138-145)), (Munaf Patel,Zaheer,Dinda,Shami Ahmed,Nehra-(130s)),

Posted by Meety on (July 20, 2012, 1:21 GMT)

@Siddhatha Gupta - I wouldn't write off Vinay Kumar (yet), but I was amused watching him bowl in the WACA test. He steamed in (almost Ahktar like), & proceeded to bowl barely medium pace! It looks like he can run faster than project a ball!

Posted by Nampally on (July 20, 2012, 0:25 GMT)

With Fab 4 in the team + Kumble & Harbhajan at their best, India did very well both in batting & bowling. Even at home, it was Sehwag & Gambhir's fine start that allowed Dravid, Sachin & Laxman to carry India to safety & victory despite rather weak bowling. In England & Australian tours,the openers failed which caused the middle collapse causing India to free fall from #1 Test Ranking to #4. Now India has begun to realize the urgency of being good in bowling, batting & fielding. Fortunately Yadev(24) & Aaron(22) were discovered in the same year & with Ishant (23) & ZAK (33) already in the side it gives India adequate time to train these two. Zaheer may play 2 more years before packing in. BCCI must ensure to bring Aaron, Shami (22), P.Kumar(25) + Dinda & Awana up to consistent levels to make a pool of pace bowlers available.ZAK will certainly guide Ishant & Yadev with his knowledge.A good conditioning program needs to be implemented by BCCI especially for injury prone Aaron & Kumar!

Posted by Simoc on (July 19, 2012, 23:16 GMT)

Zaheer is a great bowler even when injured. I think if India has quick wickets they will have many fast bowlers wanting to knock batters heads off. As an opening bat I loved planting them over the square leg fence. The move now is having several medium fast to fast bowlers relentlessly pitching up close to off stump and looking for minor deviations off the pitch or through the air. It seems to work. Indias bowlers in Australia could bowl ok but apart fromi Zaheer they were erratic. So batsmen just try and see off Zaheer and take the loose stuff from the others.

Posted by Aryian007 on (July 19, 2012, 21:03 GMT)

@ hhillbumper - Indian "FAST" bowler - even the title is oxymoron, before it can be ironic

Posted by kabirsen on (July 19, 2012, 20:37 GMT)

For once, not only an excellent article by Aakash, but for the most part, all the comments that have already been made are right on the money. The recognition, mentoring and selection of all players on the Indian domestic (not only fast bowlers) have sadly not been up to the mark. Added to the always present domestic bias, there is the added influence of IPL teams which have their own favorites. Rather than outsourcing this task, as we have done with coaching, why not have an incentive scheme for selectors that rewards them for selecting players from outside their zones and IPL teams, a close monitoring of the number of balls and the pitches the bowlers have bowled, and finally a mentoring scheme that gives former bowlers the task of overseeing different stable of bowlers?

Posted by Vilander on (July 19, 2012, 20:23 GMT)

suddenly india has become all over pace, speed of bowling is not everything, look at junaid he bowls in 125-135 range much slower than the indian bowlers but is more effective than Yadav or even Ishant.

Posted by Vilander on (July 19, 2012, 20:09 GMT)

138-150+ ishant,umesh,Aaron 135-148 - Awana,Dinda,Shami,Sreesanth There is nothing ironic about india and fast bowling. Indians have been bowling very fast (140+)from around 2003 when Nehra,Zak came through to join Srinath.

Posted by hhillbumper on (July 19, 2012, 19:15 GMT)

Indian fast bowlers yeah that sounds ironic

Posted by i_witnessed_2011 on (July 19, 2012, 19:11 GMT)

Once again good article by Akash... One point I would like to add is why either Fast bowling coach or NCA were not made accountable for the lack of growth in fast bowling dept. We had many talents like Munaf,Sreesanth, RP Singh,Irfan and Now Ishant. Each one were capable being new Zahir. But none did... It was surprise to see how coaches are failed and even surprising is no one made accountable for this debacle. If you looseso many talents its not only problem with individual bowler there is also problem in coach and the system.

Posted by ali_78694 on (July 19, 2012, 18:14 GMT)

@KiwiRocker : I Strongly disagree with you calling Zaheer Above Average Bowler. He is the only bowler in World Cricket who can make the ball talk on FLAT Sub continent pitches. Dale Steyn is another bowler who can make the batters dance with his RAW pace on Flat pitches.

Posted by SDHM on (July 19, 2012, 16:39 GMT)

Something I've said for a while is that India need to produce a couple - it doesn't have to be more than that - pitches that are conducive to fast bowling. If a youngster sees an Indian bowler ripping through opposition batsmen, he might be more inclined to bowl fast himself! It's not like there aren't enough teams in India for it to be impossible.

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 15:57 GMT)

India needs to send them to county cricket or league cricket in other countries where they can bowl day in and day out to get bowling fitness and where the coaches can tell them hard truths about their bowling rather than being pampered by the Indian media. If you look at Wasim, Waqar, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding down to Zaheer Khan, they have all played county to get used to continuously bowling. If the BCCI restricts them from that and forces them to play the increasingly meaningless IPL then there's no chance for india to produce a test bowler.

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 15:46 GMT)

Zaheer Irfan Balaji , yadav, praveen kumar, aron and shami ahmed and if all of them fail bring sreesanth and ishant sharma. praveen and irfan had potential to be allrounder but BCCI( bharatiya collection of corrupt indivuduals!!!!!!!!

selectors have no vision and captain is too smart to handle a team and groom a player. Jadeja keeps playing despite of failing all the time. vinay kumar and all this is happening cuz of srikanth(from south) and dhoni(who thinks he is from south).

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 15:30 GMT)

To put it plain and simple, after Zaheer, the cupboard is empty. Please don't mention Ishant again. Some players do have potential, but it's performance that matters most. Sooner than later, he could go into oblivion, the only advantage for him being in the team is his still only 23 and as Aakash has pointed out, he is only next to Kapil, Srinath, and Zaheer in terms of the tests played though nowhere near these bowlers in terms of performance. Awana, Dinda and et al, sorry, it looks more like a Bangladesh attack.

Posted by Anil_m on (July 19, 2012, 14:28 GMT)

i still remember sreesanth reversing the ball at will in this match on a kanpur dustbowl - http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/430882.html. Alas he can't do that more often - the guy needs proper mentoring.

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (July 19, 2012, 12:10 GMT)

Aakash, the main point you have missed is that fast bowlers don't reach their peak until they are about 28. Up to then they are learning their craft as they usually get carried away with generating pace, seeing how high the keeper takes the ball and how hard it's hiting the gloves. Spinners on the other hand reach their peak much quicker and one the main reasons being due tho the number of overs they bowl. One of the main weaknesses of all Indian non-spinners is, as you have identified is the inability to move the ball off the seam and is an easier skill to master than swing. The opposition bowlers showed how useful this ability is on the last disastrours tours of Eng and Aus. There are 2 other interlinked factors - diet and training which if followed properly will reduce the the number of injuries, ensure bowlers are bowling at their capacity more often and extend their careers. This comes down to proper and professional mentoring of bowlers something the BCCI lacks in abundance.

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 11:55 GMT)

actually WHERE IS MITHUN........he was thought to be the new raw pace bowler....

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 11:29 GMT)

@MAK123...chk your stats abt zaheer....thn comment...

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 10:22 GMT)

i think Praveen Kumar is better than Ishant sharma. Praveen can move ball both way as we have seen him bowling in england were all bowler struggled except him.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (July 19, 2012, 10:20 GMT)

This is a good, honest article from Akash but I wonder why has he missed Irfan Pathan? I mean Indian selectors have become so desperate that they ended up chosing Pathan. Someone out there commented that an attack of Zaheer, Ishant and Yadev can rival the best in world. That is utter non sense. Ishant Sharma has been tried, tested and failed for many years. His name should not even be mentioned. Umesh Yadev went for over 5 in an over in Australia. Yes, he did get few wickets, but that was because every other Indian bowler including much hyped Ashwin was useless. As far as Zaheer Khan..Again he is just an above average bowler with an average of 32/wicket. He is no Wasim Akram. Reality is that India has no promising fast bowlers..Indian fans and media are responsible for ruining many promising fast bowlers as they over hype them, e.g Pathan,Varun( who has not even played test matches) and so on. India has no Junaid Khan, Phillander, Cummins, and anyone remotely as good as them emerging!

Posted by US_Indian on (July 19, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

Well a good analysis, You have missed out Balaji,Mithun, Irfan- Balaji & Irfan has age and experience on their side and Their recent performances have been good so to keep the balance of experience you need to have either Balaji or Irfan around rather than making youngsters shoulder the responsibility and definitely not Ishant, who inspite of being around for few years says that he does not know the right length to bowl, cannot control his directions for over a long time and does not know to set up a batsman, if he learns this tricks he can become a good reliable bowler otherwise selectors should look beyond him rather than just hoping for some miracles. Atleast rotation policy should be effectively pursued in the selection of fast bowlers. And there is one guy who either plays for Andhra or Hyderabad, he is too good to be ignored. If Shrishant & Munaf can be handled and managed effectively, he has all the tricks in his bag to be successful. Both BCCI and Dhoni have failed in handling

Posted by maddinson on (July 19, 2012, 7:42 GMT)

Yadav is a gun and Vinay is for fun

Posted by MAK123 on (July 19, 2012, 7:40 GMT)

Zaheer Khan is just an over-rated, second-grade bowler that you would find at every nook and corner of Karachi and Lahore streets in Pakistan. Umesh Yadav could develop into a good fast bowler over the next two years' time. With all the handicap of his slower speed, I thought Praveen Kumar was the top current bowler India posses.

Posted by SHANEDAPPAL on (July 19, 2012, 7:28 GMT)

in my concern the best test bowlers in india after saheer are 1. sreeshanth 2. umesh yadav 3. ishanth sharma 4. varun aron 5.shami ahmed

why sreeshanth , he has the pace aggressive and swing, he can take wickets in crucial times, me from kerala but personally i don't like him. but he is the best swing bowlers in india for test. unlucky his career have the shadowof injuries and antics. 2. umesh yadav all them know his ability as like chopra noted 3.ishanth sharma , yes consitantany in line and length will make him different from others and his height helping him to make good short deliveries ..but he have to focus on his body strength (fitness) 4. varun good and intelligent bowler can perform well when he got good chances 5. shami ahmed impressive we have to wait for his time

indian fast bowlers have to focus more there fitness...bcoz most of indian bowlers suffering injuries once they got injury they are missing there career they should have to get more mental strenght

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (July 19, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

very good analysis on our fast bowling resources , umesh yadav looks like the real deal , varun aaron is good but like you said his fitness remains a concern , ishant sharma is not helping himself by refusing to bowl fuller , i remember him saying its not his natural length ! , and finally sreesanth , the guy has all the talent in the world but with his attitude and fitness he may remain same , which is a lot of unfulfilled potential

Posted by moBlue on (July 19, 2012, 6:35 GMT)

sreesanth befuddles me no end! such raw talent - proven a few times, the last at durban in 2010-11 [just as he had harassed SA on the previous tour as well!]- going to waste! to what end?!?

Posted by Jack_Tka on (July 19, 2012, 6:34 GMT)

Umesh Yadav is the future of Indian Fast bowling department. Ishant Sharma, even after playing so many tests still lacks consistency. Praveen Kumar on the other hand bowls at 120s even though he's 25 years of age. So down the line in another 2-3 years, he'll become slower and would be purely called as a medium pacer. Vinay Kumar is only a 50 over or T20 bowler. Enticing a batsmen to play an unplayable delivery in a TEST match and get him out is certainly out of his league. If he can't do that in England or Aus, then certainly he can't do that in Indian pitches. Varun Aaron is unfit even though the count of matches he played is far more less. So all in all, with the FOUR bowler theory of Indian team(IN ALL FORMATs), the future does looks bleak. Even playing a computer game(aka EA Sports Cricket), you need to take 20 wickets to win a test match.

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 5:37 GMT)

I think the best thing you Yadav is try to get him to play some county cricket, even if he has to sacrifice the IPL for it. It would be excellent for his development as a bowler (South Africa and Australia are good places to learn his trade too), but the BCCI will never let it happen.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (July 19, 2012, 5:28 GMT)

I have been quite impressed with Shami Ahmed. He seems a tough fast bowler capable of bowing consistently in the 140s and is also a never say die batsman. He seems to have imbibed a bit from Wasim Akram I feel with their association for KKR in the IPL. He is definitely India bench material right now and could play for India soon as and when the opportunity comes along if the BCCI has a rotation policy for all the fast bowlers in the pool. Abu Nechim to me is a more civilised version of the great lasith Malinga and should be kept a close eye on.I think he has made some strides under Shaun Pollock's tutelage in the Mumbai Indians team.Munaf can be very good but as Aksh says, he seems to have realised the futility of Test Cricket. He is not alone in this view though !! Umesh Yadav could still dvelop into the great fast bowler India has been looking for for so long. The ease with which he generates pace and his calm demeanour suggests the possibility that he will be a revelation very soon.

Posted by aashishcalla on (July 19, 2012, 5:21 GMT)

Potentially, an attack comprising of Zaheer, Ishant and Umesh must be among the best in the world, almost close to the trios of Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and Steyn, Philander, Morkel.

But considering that Zaheer may not be around for long (although I personally believe he must quit ODIs and T20Is now to focus on tests for at least 2 more seasons), it must be Ishant, Umesh and one from Praveen/Varun/Sreesanth to form India's pace trio in the years to come.

Posted by Bilal_Choudry on (July 19, 2012, 5:12 GMT)

india needs to be patient with thier quick bowlers .. if they want to develop this new set of bowlers they need to start playing with 3 quick bowlers in tests .. and use the new kids to bowl quick spells rather than do what they do now

Posted by SamRoy on (July 19, 2012, 5:04 GMT)

Munaf never had the attitude though he had the skill. Let's hope Awana and Shami Ahmed can be good fast bowlers. Ishant should play a county season before he again plays for national team. Hope, Praveen gets back to his best quickly. I am only referring to test bowlers here. in ODIs and T20s any one will do.

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

Problem is Zak has not been able to inspire them to next level. Unless BCCI sits chalk out a plan to nurture the resources these resources will largely unfulfilled. For next 2 to 3 years, I recommend to use different set of bowlers for different format. Tests - Praveen, Umesh, Ishant, Shami, Unakadt/ Pradeep, B. Kumar, P. Awana // ODI's - Munaf, Vinay, Varun, Ashok, RP Singh, Nehra// ZAK should play in all test matches aboard and choose important ODI's series and should not play T20's. This will ensure sufficient rest and help them review their body and performance every series. Only in case a bowler show tremendous form & fitness play him full series. Year around program/academy (with hard working foreign coaches) should be set up in Mohali/ Dharmsala where pitches offer assistance to fast bowlers. Any other bowler with talent should put in the academy for 1 yr before Indian colors.

Posted by Meety on (July 19, 2012, 4:40 GMT)

I was hugely impressed with Yadav when he toured Oz. The thing that worries me is I thought the same of Ishant Sharma the tour before! I remember when Sharma toured the first time, after the series, I said to an Indian mate of mine, you guys have just found McGrath clone only faster! He was brilliant. Apart from a good tour of the WIndies, he has been below par ever since. I hope Yadav stays healthy, I hope that maybe Indian curators may get tempted to leave a bit more grass on their pitches, at least domestically, so these guys don't break their backs for no rewards!

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 4:39 GMT)

Not even God can save India if it it Ishant Sharma!

Posted by   on (July 19, 2012, 4:20 GMT)

Vinay kumar is an embarrassment, i'm sorry to say. please refrain from mentioning him, we dont have a very potent attack, but i'm sure we have many better bowlers worth noting.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (July 19, 2012, 3:44 GMT)


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Aakash ChopraClose
Aakash Chopra Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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