Fast bowlers making the difference

We can all see the big difference between the two fast bowling attacks in this Twenty20 series.

Pace is what matters!

India’s best is Ashok Dinda, who can bowl at 135-136 kmph and can stretch to 137 kmph at best. The best part about Dinda is that he runs in hard.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is slower, but he’s a swing bowler. Ishant Sharma now bowls only at 132-133 kmph.

Ashok Dinda during the one-day series against Sri Lanka in July this year. PIC/AFP

On the other hand, for Pakistan, Mohammad Irfan can bowl at 145 kmph, Umar Gul around 137-138. Sohail Tanvir is slower like Bhuvneshwar, but swings the ball.

But Pakistan’s bowlers are experienced and know how to take wickets. Umar is classic example: He bowled a short ball to Ravindra Jadeja and then bowled a yorker to Ishant first ball at Bangalore.

Blame coaches
I don’t understand why India’s bowlers don’t show the same attitude while bowling to tailenders. I won’t blame the bowlers, but their coaches, who probably ingrain these ideas.

Ishant entered international cricket at 145 kmph plus and even touched 150 kmph once, but now is a shadow of his former self. That’s the problem with India’s bowlers. S Sreesanth, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan — all started at 140 — but have slowed down in a year and a half.

I think the coaches at first-class and other levels are to blame. They may be telling these bowlers to concentrate on line and length, instead of pace.
In contrast, Pakistan’s bowlers are told to bowl fast; we will teach you swing later.

When I coach Kolkata Knight Riders, I talk to the bowlers and tell them the same thing. Now, we find these bowling coaches taking the bowlers out on the field in between breaks just to attract the attention of the television camera. You’ll never find me doing that.

Take Shami Ahmed for example. I tell him to watch the match, and learn how to bowl yorkers, observe how a batsman steps out to bat. That provides an indication as to whether he’s under pressure or not. Then, you get an opportunity to create pressure.

While India have a number of fast-medium bowlers, they are also blessed with three bowlers with pure pace — Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Shami Ahmed, who will play the ODI series.

Varun is injured right now and I don’t know his present level of fitness. But, Umesh and Shami are all about pace. India need to take care of them. However, the problem is India play so much cricket that they tire these guys out.

Even I have played international cricket for 20 years. We used to play around 12 Tests and 32 ODIs. Then I used to also play county cricket for 10 years. I was the only overseas professional and would bowl for six months in England. Then, I used to come back and play domestic cricket in Pakistan.

I don’t know why the BCCI does not allow their bowlers to play county cricket. The bowlers will be made if they go and learn how to bowl in different conditions for two months.

County stint must
County cricket is the ultimate if you are aiming to improve as a cricketer and a bowler. The different culture and atmosphere tests and moulds you. The weather is cold, and the body gets a different challenge.

Pakistan’s Umar Gul. Pic/Getty Images

What’s happening now is that India’s bowlers bowl only in India with the SG ball and then struggle when they go abroad to play with the Kookaburra, a ball which they do not know how to use.

Look at Zaheer Khan. He played county cricket in 2006 and came back a better bowler. He learnt the complete repertoire by bowling in county cricket especially the joys of swing bowling. The young bowlers should not be resting at the age of 20. At that time you need to bowl and bowl. I agree that the 18-22 age group is the peak in terms of injuries. Even I had injuries then, but that’s how you learn.

India should not classify Umesh and Shami as Test or ODI bowlers, but play them and then see which format they are best suited for.

Now, India has a long queue of injured bowlers, but all get fit in time for the IPL. That is something they need to look at as well.

India have a lot of fast bowling talent, but they need a method to maintain that talent.

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