India v West Indies, World T20, Group 2, Mirpur March 23, 2014

Mishra, Kumar head bowlers improvement


As always, it was the most criticised component coming into the tournament. And not as always, India's bowling has clicked so well in their first two World T20 matches, they have even been able to let a misfiring batsman get some practice in the middle.

As surprises go, it could not have come more pleasantly for the Indians. Three of the frontline bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra and R Ashwin, have gone at less than a run a ball against two dangerous opponents in Pakistan and West Indies.

The conditions have been a huge help to the spinners, of course. But they have also stuck to their strengths - Ashwin using his carrom balls and bowling largely fuller lengths and tight lines, barring overdoing it into the pads at times.

Mishra has been a revelation. When you use so much flight in a T20, you often get carted for six, but Mishra has used it the old-fashioned way - to get wickets. There has been turn available, but Mishra has made the most of it by fooling batsmen in the air.

About an hour earlier, even Saeed Ajmal was finding it hard against Australia and Glenn Maxwell and before that, Pakistan had roughed up Brad Hogg. What were the Indian slow bowlers doing differently? Darren Sammy said they had been able to, and also been allowed to, settle down enough to bowl what they wanted to.

"They bowl wicket to wicket," Sammy said. "Normally if you let a spinner settle he will get his line and length and pace and variation at which he wants to bowl. In both games they have settled into a nice rhythm. They controlled the pace of the innings from there."

That they did so against a side that boasted explosive batsmen of the calibre of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels was what pleased MS Dhoni.

"I am really happy to see how the spinners are bowling," Dhoni said. "Yes, there is a bit of help for them but at the same time you have to execute your plans well, especially in this format. You have got some of the big hitters in the opposition that you will have to carefully plan for and innovate at times. So I was really happy that our spinners so far, along with the part-timers and the fast bowlers, have done really well."

With the limelight on the spinners, Bhuvneshwar has quietly gone about his job at the start of the innings. For a while now, the swing had more or less gone missing for him, and Bhuvneshwar without much movement in the air is not even half the bowler with it. But he has been making it dart around in Dhaka and the way he toyed with Dwayne Smith is not a sight one usually sees in T20s, where batsmen usually fall on their own because they play too many shots. In this case, to put bat to ball against Bhuvneshwar was proving difficult for Smith, as he took several away before bringing the odd one back in. A spell of 3-0-3-0 in a T20 is pure gold for a captain.

Sammy praised Bhuvneshwar when asked about West Indies' crawl of a start. "I think credit must go to the opening bowlers," Sammy said. "Kumar swung the ball both in and out and he bowled good areas. We know they were bowling to the two most dangerous openers in this format of the game. They kept them quiet."

Bhuvneshwar was unfortunate not to pick up a wicket, because he seemed to be on the verge of breaking through almost every ball. His role is to make good use of the new ball, Dhoni said, and that is exactly what he did, bowling some big away swingers.

"Make sure he does not give too many loose deliveries," Dhoni said. "The batsmen have to go after him to play the big shot. That will be like a winner for him and today there was a bit of help and he made sure he was bowling in the right areas. That is how he will contribute throughout. Especially in this game I thought he bowled brilliantly. His length was very crucial and he was able to swing the ball."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on March 26, 2014, 11:22 GMT

    great bowling by bhuvi I hope this is continue

  • Ashok on March 25, 2014, 13:47 GMT

    It is funny to see a comparison between Ajmal & Mishra by some commenters here. These 2 are as different as Chalk & Cheese! They are experts in their own art of Bowling- one an off spinner& the other a leg spinner. Only similarity between them is they are both right hand spinners. It is far more difficult for a RH leg spinner to succeed in T20 format than for a RH off spinner. This is where Mishra scores lot of points & deserves credit. Even in leg spinners there are 2 types - slow flighted ones Vs. quicker leg spinners. Afridi did very well as a quicker leg spinner. Mishra is at least 10KPH slower than Afridi. I would say Mishra is more like the Great Subash Gupte (Slow) than Kumble (Quick). So even amongst leg spinners there are various types- let alone comparing Leg spinner to Off spinners on the same basis. I would say Ajmal is a great Off spinner & best of his kind presently. Mishra is a fine leg spinner- currently a match winner! Mishra has given Indian bowling a new direction!

  • Israr on March 25, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    @ Temuzin ... ur absolutely right ... and if we get batsman like kohli and dhoni we will also be unbeatable then ...

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    No doubt, India are the most assured side in the tournament. They are assured of spinning services via Mishra, Jadeja, Ashwin & Raina. In batting department they are assured of services from Kohli, Raina and Dhoni the finisher. Additional staff is also contributing. Only death bowling and Yuvi are the last pieces of dead wood to be cut. To me india spin attack seems better than pakistan. Both Mishra and INdia were on the sidelines and many eyebrows were lifted to see india not being able to chase a regulation total in the first warmup but things are different now.

  • Android on March 25, 2014, 7:22 GMT

    a grate boy for india is coming soon

  • Android on March 25, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    i think raj will come back

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2014, 3:42 GMT

    Seems Yuvraj days are over. He is really struggling even with fielding, dropping sitters consistently. Binny should come in place of Yuvi, but Dhoni's formula is simple, do not change the winning combination. So Yuvraj is safe at least till the knockout round

  • TR on March 25, 2014, 3:13 GMT

    My worst fear is this: Yuvraj will be given one more chance against the weak Bangladesh and is going to score 35-40 runs against them giving a false impression that he has gotten his form back. And he will play the rest of the matches and fail again. Rahane should be in the team right away. Though I dont expect Rahane to score fast at least his fielding will be invaluable to the team. Rahane,Raina,Jadeja,Rohit,Kholi would form a good fielding set.

  • jithender on March 25, 2014, 2:33 GMT

    india should not gamble on yuvraj singh apart from batting poorly he has become a liability in the easier of the 3 departments,fielding.he is a spent force and should be dropped.cannot give him chances at india's expense.rahane would be an ideal replacement.wake up skipper and answer the reality check.

  • ashok on March 24, 2014, 22:38 GMT

    You can't get a better strategist other than MS Dhoni in the sub continent. I will be cursing him if the Asia cup form continued. I was amazed to see the signals that he give to the bowlers when they were bowling - A left arm movement means something and a wave means something...