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Match Analysis

Prasidh's hit-the-deck style just what India needs

The 25-year old fast bowler offers his team a different mode of attack

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
09-Feb-2022
At six feet, three inches, Prasidh Krishna can generate bounce even on the most docile tracks. It helps that his stock ball is mostly back of a length. He trusts that length to such an extent that it's become muscle memory.
Not only does Prasidh bowl this length consistently, he does so at 140 clicks or more. That's why West Indies had no answers against him. His opening burst of 4-2-3-2 stung them and what appeared to be a low-pressure chase was turned upside down.
Prasidh didn't bowl a single full delivery in his first four overs. Sixteen out of 24 balls reared up from short of length. Five of them nipped away off a length. The batters tried to weather this barrage but it was no use. West Indies were being made painfully aware that this wasn't going to be a stroll.
If the South Africa ODIs and these two against West Indies are any indication, India appear to be leaning towards hit-the-deck seamers, and in particular those capable of bossing the middle overs.
When Prasidh first burst onto the big stage at the IPL in 2018, he wasn't able to tell which way the ball would move. Only when he became a first-class regular in 2019 did he start to really understand his own action and release.
Working with S Aravind, the current Karnataka bowling coach, has helped Prasidh develop a strong wrist position that enables him to control the sideways movement. In his playing days, Aravind was a master of making the ball move subtly off the pitch. It's a trait he had to develop because he wasn't blessed with raw pace. That actually went against him when Kolkata Knight Riders were looking for a replacement for the injured Kamlesh Nagarkoti at IPL 2018.
Prasidh was preferred to Aravind and his life has never been the same since. More than the financial windfall, the IPL opened a window of unbelievable opportunities to a player who, until then, had only played a handful of first-class games in four full seasons.
The (unintentional) wobble seam has given way to a more pronounced one. Proof that he knows exactly what he's doing right now. Prasidh struck with his third delivery. A routine length ball kicked up from a spot outside off as Brandon King's slash resulted in a thin edge through to Rishabh Pant. It was a poor bit of decision-making from the batter. The ball wasn't full enough to drive, nor was it short enough to cut. An in-between shot to an in-between delivery got India an early breakthrough.
Now, it was Darren Bravo's turn to face the music. This wasn't chin music. It wasn't visceral pace or big banana swing. It was simple wicket-to-wicket bowling on what they call a "tappa". Slang for good-length spot. Except when a bowler well over 6' hits that spot, the cricket ball jumps up at you. Bravo was caught in two minds. Should he get out of the way or get behind the line? This indecision nearly cost him. By the time he dropped his wrists to leave, he had worn a stinging blow on the shoulder.
It's entirely possible the effect of that delivery had a hand in Bravo's eventual downfall. Once again, Prasidh landed one short of a length. Bravo pushed at it, anticipating the ball to deck back in. But this one moved away off the seam to take the faintest of edges through to Pant. Not given initially, the decision was overturned upon India's review. This was Prasidh's subtle mastery at play.
Shamarh Brooks was next in the firing line. He was beaten on the inside edge, beaten on the outside edge, popped one off a leading edge and only just survived another vicious short ball. The Indians couldn't help but have a chuckle. By the time Prasidh's first spell ended, Brooks had limped to 2 off 20 deliveries.
Cut to the 20th over and West Indies were 66 for 3. Not completely off track but you got the sense that they still needed Nicholas Pooran to bat through the innings. Guess who snuffed out that plan?
Once again Prasidh had a batter in two minds. Caught between a block and a pull shot, Pooran only managed to nick off into the slips. This gangly 25-year-old offers a different mode of attack for India. He has widened their fast-bowling pool and in the process helped ensure their best talents can stay fresh and protected from bubble fatigue.
But really, his work in the powerplay is the clincher. In 24 games between the end of the 2019 World Cup and the start of the ongoing ODI series against West Indies, India averaged 130.80 with the ball in the first 10 overs. That's almost twice as bad as No. 2 on the list: Zimbabwe (76.85). Shami and Bumrah have played just six of those games together. Bhuvneshwar Kumar isn't the force he once was. India were crying out for another wicket-taker and here he is. All six-feet-plus of him.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo