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

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