Zimbabwe v India, 1st ODI, Harare June 11, 2016

Sran shows promise with early swing

With a bit of help from the conditions in Harare, Barinder Sran was showing what the selectors had seen in him when they included him in the squad for that Australia tour earlier this year

Barinder Sran troubled the openers with inswing early on and removed Sikandar Raza later © AFP

Full, angling across the right-hander, swinging back in.

Swing. In his first tour as an India player, in an unforgiving Australian summer, Barinder Sran may have forgotten what swing looked like or felt like. He was still in the southern hemisphere now, but five months had passed, and this was Zimbabwean winter, an early morning start, and that mysterious atmospheric alchemy had got to work on his very first ball.

It curled back in, late, and Chamu Chibhabha was in no position to play it. The bowler's angle, from left-arm over, had dragged Chibhabha's front leg across towards the off side, searching for the off drive. Chibhabha's front leg had now become a barrier between the incoming ball and his bat. Denied a straight-line path, he had to bring his bat around and across, and by then he was too late. The ball struck his pad, low, as he overbalanced, falling over to the off side.

It was the plumbest of lbws, and only Russell Tiffin, the umpire, didn't think so.

On his first ODI tour, Sran played three matches and took three wickets at an average of 56.66 while conceding 6.45 an over. It was a series played on flat Australian pitches where 300 was an inadequate, undefendable total.

In Sran's first two matches, George Bailey scored 112 and 76 not out. Sran should have had Bailey caught behind, down the leg side, off the very first ball he bowled to him, in Perth, but the Indian fielders barely appealed, and Richard Kettleborough ruled it not out. In those two matches, Bailey scored 37 off the 26 balls he faced from Sran.

In that series, Bailey was experimenting with a new, unconventional stance, with his front shoulder pointing to extra cover and his front leg further across to the off side than his back leg. It proved wildly successful, and helped him cover the left-armer's angle particularly well, but everything was simply going across him, with no change in direction. A bit of swing back in, and Bailey might have found himself uncomfortably, and dangerously, closed off. Like Chibhabha.

Or like Peter Moor, who, off the last ball of that Sran over, got into a similarly closed-off position, and missed the inswinger as he tried desperately to play across his front pad. This time Tiffin raised his finger.

Fifteen years ago, India took a 22-year-old left-arm quick to Zimbabwe, for his first full tour. In two Test matches against a far better Zimbabwe side, he picked up 11 wickets at 19.72, and much of his success was the result of the ball that swerved wickedly into the right-handers.

Sran is a year older than Ashish Nehra was in 2001. He isn't as quick or as skiddy, and is at a rawer stage of his development. But here, now, with a bit of help from the conditions, he was showing what the selectors had seen in him when they included him in the squad for that Australia tour. He has a long way to go, but he sure can swing it.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naresh on June 12, 2016, 18:08 GMT

    Sran has strong shoulders and a big stride. Has the swing but his pace is about 132. As said by some if can build on that he can be a long term prospect. There is a need to continue taking those early wickets and being a left armer makes him handy for team India while Nehra is on his way out. So he will stay on the selectors radar.

  • Reetam on June 11, 2016, 21:10 GMT

    Selectors and team management need to be smart with these quicks, Can't play swing bowlers like Sran,Bhuvi on hard Australian,dead Asian pitches. Even the best swing bowlers of our times Anderson and Philander have struggled big time on those hard bouncy Aussie pitches. Broad became successful in Oz only after he mixed up his lengths and improved his bouncer. Philander in his prime, was dropped by SA in one of the tests on their last Oz tour. Bhuvi and Sran are must haves in Eng/Nz/a rare SA green top. Can't play Shami on those pitches. Bhuvi has now added some pace so he will do btter than last time in Eng. On green seamers/moist conditions India's test seam attck Ishant/Umesh,Bhuvi.Sran wd Binny as a seam bwling a/r. On Australian/hard SA tracks Ishant,Umesh,Shami/Aaron with Pandya as the seam bowling a/r. Pandya's one dimensional back of a length can keep things tight in Aus. Plus he can bowl 140+. Horses for courses are must in today's world. Can't play 2 spinners out of Asia/WI.

  • Manan on June 11, 2016, 20:05 GMT

    1)shami 2) bhuvi 3) bumrah 4) u yadav 5) sandeep sharma. 6) ashwin 7) jadeja 8) amit mishra. Indian bowling is not too bad. Considering england and austrailia who dont have any world class spiner and theire bowlers are only good in theire conditions. We can see this by past ashesh series. Its always home country wins and theire bowlers dominent

  • Chirag on June 11, 2016, 19:11 GMT

    @US_INDIAN- If you compare debutant Pathan vs now, today's looks toothless. No pace no zip. Bhuvi is not as food as before, so that dropped. I said over burnt to Shammi only. While Pakaj is really strongly built with excellent domestic record but could not establish at international level, same with mithun. ultimately both I believed pray of a fail management

  • Asker on June 11, 2016, 18:08 GMT

    @chirag-Don't forget failed sensation Pathan, Bhuvi, Balaji, Over burnt Shami, Munaf, Pankaj, Mithun and many more. When did you find Bhuvi or Pathan as failures or did you mean Ishant, praveen? Bhuvi is still very much here and roaring to go. Pathan is still here provided our management and captain support him and more over his is a case of mis-management than lack of talent/potential. Pankaj/ mithun hardly played and you are calling them over burnt wow. Munaf again talent wasted due to the management / captain under using him due to some cold vibes putting personal ego before the team's needs, Shami could be termed as the victim of too much cricket and he will be back pretty much on his way. The problem with fast bowlers is they need to be strong and groomed properly and taken care off, i mean a rotation policy would be good for fast bowlers have a pool of 10-15 bowlers and rotate them and keep them fresh and healthy and fit raring to go at any time just like doctors on call duty.

  • Chirag on June 11, 2016, 17:18 GMT

    Once upon a time we Indian had no fast bowling talent. Now we have a lot. But, we still lack good management to handle those. Don't forget failed sensation Pathan, Bhuvi, Balaji, Over burnt Shami, Munaf, Pankaj, Mithun and many more......... Hope current Corp don't fall in this list

  • J on June 11, 2016, 16:54 GMT

    Another indian trundler with swing but poor control being praised by the media, I'd have thought they'd stop after Bhuvneshwar Kumar's career ended up going no where.

  • ravinder mohan on June 11, 2016, 16:21 GMT

    he has potential n he has shown that he is a thinking player but he is a little too raw n needs guidance asap. May be A sheet or Nehra as bowling coach May do the trick.

  • Sujay on June 11, 2016, 15:52 GMT

    Sran bowls in the high 130s and is pretty useful even if swing is unavailable. He showed it in the IPL. Some people needs to stop being over-critical and appreciate that IPL is also played by "top level international batsmen".

  • Nandan on June 11, 2016, 15:42 GMT

    There is something about this kid. The first delivery was ala many pakistani left armers. He should add 5-10 kmph of pace to be successful at this level . All and all and for the sake of Indian cricket I hope he grows leaps and bounds. I have seen too many promising bowlers lose their after a few successful years, hopefully the team management should take care of him and Bumrah.

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